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!