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}
Crew Disclaimer

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}
Crew Disclaimer

Monday, October 23, 2017

Monday Menu

Happy Monday, friends!  Can you believe another Monday is here?  As you read this, I am still on the road, headed home from Mississippi after visiting our daughter in college. (look for pictures and an update on her on Friday!) 

Luckily for us, the dear girl who watched our house and dogs for us while we were gone is also  putting our dinner in the crockpot for us so when we walk through the door the house will smell good and we won't resort to more fast food. 

Gotta love a crock pot!  How often do you use yours?

On the plan for this week-

Monday- Pulled Pork Sandwiches (crockpot) *recipe coming next week for you! So easy and yummy!

Tuesday- Soy Glazed Fish and Bok Choy

Wednesday- Butter Chicken

Thursday- Smothered Pork Chops (crockpot)

Friday- Chicken Divan

Saturday- Stuffed Shells

Sunday- Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

You may have noticed that I tend to do soup or sandwiches for Sunday.  We usually eat out with friends after church and by the time we get back, mom is full and done! ;)  So we typically eat light and late in the evenings.  I consider it my "day off."

Hope this inspires you!  Feel free to leave your menu for us, we would love to be inspired by YOU!


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

God's Great Love For You

I absolutely love that my collection of beautiful children's books is growing!  Yes, I know I don't have any little people in our lives currently, but one can hope that someday there will be grandchildren around.  No worries- I will be ready to read!!

God's Great Love for You, by best selling author Rick Warren, will be at the top of the stack!   This 30 page hard back book is a gem.  It begins by telling the reader that God's great love created the universe, then page by page shows how great that love is.  From the oceans to the skies- no matter where you go, and no matter how your day is going, God's love is "perfect and will never end."

Written in very simple terms this cute book is a great way to show young children that God loves them regardless of location or circumstances.  It reminds us all that God is everywhere.   With only a few words per page, it is a quick read and certain to hold young children's attention. 

Illustrated by the award winning Chris Saunders, you will love the beautiful artwork that fills each page.   Gentle colors and soothing lines make it a peaceful book to start or end your day with. 

How perfect that we can fill our children's reading lists with books that tell of their mighty God and the loves He has for them.  Can you even imagine if that was all they heard from sun up to sun down?  What a beautiful thing!

I know that you can not read non stop to your little ones, but I think you will enjoy reading this precious book over and over again. 

Flyby has once again graciously offered to provide a copy of God's Great Love for You to one of our readers.  Just leave me a comment and tell me who you would read this sweet book to, making sure you leave a way for me to reach you if you win.  One winner will be chosen randomly next Wednesday!  This would be a perfect addition to your Christmas list or to gift to a new momma!

You can buy this book and others by Rick Warren here!

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Monday Menu- The Short List

Good morning, my friends!  The sun is shining BIG today and it is the start of a great week for us!

But a great week for us, means a short menu for you! ;)

You see, we are headed out in a few days to see Riley, daughter #2, in her college performance of Into the Woods!  No worries, the dogs and the house are being well watched!

The exciting part is that means I only have to, I mean will, cook three days this week.

Well, the other exciting part is seeing this cute face!

Excuse me while I do a party dance!

Don't get me wrong, I do love cooking for my family, but sometimes it is nice to have a little break.  Plus let's face it, it only takes a few meals out to make you appreciate home cooked ones even more!  So on that note-

Our short list-

Monday- Egg rolls and Fried rice

Tuesday- Meatballs

Wednesday- Breakfast Burritos

Together soon!

Friday, October 13, 2017


Are there days that you just struggle to get through?  Days that you are tired of being sick?  Or days that you are tired of stress?  Or days that you are just- TIRED?

Oh friends, I have been there a lot lately.

Tired of pain and not feeling well.  Tired of struggling to school a child that wants to fight me every step of the way.  Tired of sadness and stress.  Tired of- well, a lot honestly.

And sometimes most of all, just tired of pretending all is well.

Sometimes all is not well.

But who wants to say, yeah, I am struggling right now.  Or yeah, things stink right now.

I get tired of myself some days.  I can only imagine how others feel.

But here's the thing.  We all go through rough spots in our lives.  Some are mercifully short lived and some are not.   When you are in them, whether short or long, they are no fun.

Refining, but often no fun.

I am pretty sure God is doing some refining in my life.

  • Teaching me that there is a time to share and let others help bear my burdens and a time to just simply turn to God.

  • That there can often be times of great pain and sorrow in our lives and that of our children's, but then he sends joy and hope when you least expect it.

  • That there are times that we are healthy and then there may be times when we have to slow down and allow God to restore our bodies.

  • That there are times when we are ministered to by friends and times when we must do the ministering. 

And all the while, God is using it all to refine us.  To draw us closer to Himself.  To make us more like Him.

Sometimes it is a long, painful road.

Always it is a worthwhile one!

If you are reading this and are in a rough season of your life, I want to encourage you today.  Know that you are not alone.  Know that you are loved.  And know that  you will get through.

God is with you and He loves you!


Monday, October 9, 2017

Monday Menu Meets the Freezer

Another week, another menu!  Does anyone else feel like they spend a lot of their days in the kitchen?  Thankfully with a planned menu in hand it does cut down on the time a little.  Hey, I will take what I can get.

This week two of the recipes we are using, both new to us, were specifically chosen with saving time in mind.  A blogging friend raved about a cookbook called, Fix, Freeze and Feast so I broke down and ordered it from Amazon.  With over 125 recipes, it concentrates on meal prep in bulk and then freezing for later meals.  One thing I like is the simplicity of it.  Some meal recipes only make two serving , while some make 4 plus.  But none are made to break the bank or consume all your day cooking in the kitchen.  Instead of making them all at once, I am choosing one or two a week for a while, eating one immediately and freezing the others for later use, whether for us or to bless someone in need.

I also love that the recipes are simple to make and are family friendly. (think picky kids!)  There are also cooking instructions included you can print off and tape to the extras that go in the freezer for easy reference when cooking time comes.  How cool is that?!

So here we go!

Monday- Italian Chicken

Tuesday- Rose City Teriyaki (from Fix, Freeze & Feast)

Wednesday- Chicken Cordon Bleu (from Fix, Freeze & Feast)

Thursday- Left overs

Friday- Chicken Quesadillas

Saturday- Hamburgers

Sunday- Baked Potato Chowder

And for an easy recipe-

Italian Chicken

Cover Chicken Breasts in Italian dressing and generously sprinkle with garlic salt. 
Bake covered for 45 minutes at 375. 

Yep, that's it! ;)

Told you it was easy.  I often put it in the crock pot as well.  If you prep meals once a month, this is an easy one to freeze in a baggie and is simple to pull out and cook quickly!

Have a beautiful week, my friends! 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Daring to Hope

Ah,  yes.  Another book review.  Because what is life without books, right? ;) 

I have just finished reading the soon to be released book Daring to Hope- Finding God's Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful, by Katie Davis Majors.  You may vaguely recognize the author's name from 10 years ago, when Katie first wrote and published the best selling book, Kisses From Kate.  Now married and still doing life in Uganda, Katie tells of her continued journey with God and the people she ministers to in a country far away from her homeland.

I have to start by admitting I did not LOVE Katie's first book.  There I said it.  To be honest, though it was well written, I struggled with some of the things she shared, especially leaving her home and staying in Uganda, seemingly at the time without her parents' full permission or blessing.   Whether or not that was reality, it was how I perceived things and I could not shake the feeling that God would not have called her to do something that went directly against honoring and respecting her parents.  Again, just my feelings.

But I have always been intrigued by missionaries and the remarkable work that do for God's Kingdom.  I also had no doubt that this young lady was indeed furthering His Kingdom with the work she was doing, so when I had the opportunity to read her second book I jumped at the chance.  Because of events in our lives this past year or so, the subtitle Finding God's Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful jumped out to me.  I mean, whose life is not broken in some way?

This book I liked and would recommend.  Far different from her first, Daring to Hope is about just that- HOPE.  It does indeed reference Katie's story of living in Uganda and eventually adopting 14 young girls, but that is not the focus of this book.  Instead, page after page of this 204 page book, focuses on Hope.  Through stories of various struggles Katie has encountered in Uganda, she uses the lessons learned to point herself, and us, back to hope every time.  From having to allow one of her daughters to return back to her biological mother, to the loss of numerous friends and the healing of others, Katie relays how God used EVERY circumstance to point her back to hope and the One who gives it to her.  And us!

In times of crisis, Katie learned time and time again to be faithful and put her hope in the Lord, knowing that no matter what the outcome was, she had a God who was even more faithful.  It was often a gut wrenching lesson to be learned and Katie shares each story with love and compassion.  She has wrestled with God and known His goodness.  She has asked hard questions and gotten beautiful answers.  She has remained faithful and so had God!

I am in awe of the maturity of this young lady, inspired by her stories, and challenged by her faithfulness.  I think you will be too!


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Grab a Friend for Dissections

It is no secret that Science is not my favorite subject to teach.  In the younger grades, there are always "cool" experiments to do that in my opinion, are just like art- messy and usually a pain.  By the time you get to science in the older grades, things just get complicated and I want to throw the towel in.  I mean, do we really need Biology and Chemistry?  Please, just don't even answer or I might cry.

And yet, here I am, just having finished teaching Biology for the third time.  Please note I only have one more time to go, and I am making him do it in a class of some sort.  Any sort, really, as long as it does not require me teaching!

I am proud to report we made it through successfully.  And with a little help.  Because you see, I did not do dissections alone.  Nope, this was another time I grabbed a friend,  and in this case a teacher as well, to help me.  I learned the hard way two too many times!

Plus, just like we have found with art and many other subjects, some things are just better done with friends.  There are also some other perks-

  • Knowledge- Not all of us are science people.  That's ok.  There are some people who are and they are happy to help.

  • Peer pressure- In this case, that is a good thing.  When everyone else around you is excited to dissect or at least willing to take a chance and try, other more reluctant kids are more willing to try as well.  

  • Safety in numbers- There are also some kids who just can barely stomach science things like dissections.  I get it.  When there are many kids working together, those kids can often get by with standing in the back and simply observing.  Yes, their hands may not touch the frog or other specimens but I assure you they ARE learning!
  • Wider Age Range- I have found when you teach kids in a group you can widen your age range in teaching.  It is an interesting phenomenon but it seems that the young kids step up to the plate when challenged by the bigger kids, and often the big kids jump in at helping and mentoring the younger kids.  It is quite a sight to see and I love it!

  • Cost- Science experiments can get costly, ya'll!  Luckily, when you order as a team and pool your resources with supplies you might already have, you can keep the costs down.

So are you ready for dissections?  Just grab a friend, or two, and go for it!