Menu Plan Monday 4/28/14

Welcome to another Menu Plan Monday post! I can’t believe that it is almost May already! This year is flying by. My son had a great birthday weekend and is already thinking about what he wants to choose as his birthday meal for next year! This is our menu for the week:

Monday: Pork Verde

Tuesday: Tacos

Wednesday: Garlic and Basil Chicken

Thursday: Taco stuffed shells

Friday: Burgers on the grill and Bean Salad

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to come back next week.

TOS Review: The Brinkman Adventures

Brinkman Adventures ReviewDo you love a good story full of adventure and excitement? We do at my house, and we also have a penchant for books on tape and old-time radio shows. Therefore, I was really excited to get the chance to review The Brinkman Adventures Season 2: Episodes 13-24 by The Brinkman Adventures. I originally thought only myself and my 7th grade son would be interested in listening to these, but as it turns out, my 10th grade son got into them too!

Brinkman Adventures Review

What it is:
We got the CD set, four discs with over five hours of stories appropriate for all ages. The Brinkman family are a large Christian family, and many of these stories take place during one of their road trips. Along the trip, the family experiences setbacks, but God’s providential hand brings them through all of them. As they meet and stay with a former missionary family, they invite them to share their stories, and these become their adventures. I don’t want to give too much away, but some of the stories that stood out the most to our kids were the stories of rescuing children from mines where they were held captive and forced to work against their will, and the mystery they encountered in a French castle. The stories of smuggling Bibles into countries where they are illegal, encountering God every step of the way are memorable and exciting.

How we used it:
We put these stories on at home when my son was working on his individual work. I usually have music playing in the background anyway, so we decided to play these instead. We would listen to the stories at home and then bring them in the car when we were driving around. At first, I did not think my oldest son was paying much attention, but as the story on the first disk ended, and my youngest and I got ready to start history together, my oldest asked me “Aren’t you going to put the next one in?” At that point I realized he was excited too. We finished this set of discs in about two weeks, and believe me, my kids were begging me to get the next ones!

What we thought:
Okay, I kind of wish we had started with the first season, because I feel like we missed out on some of the Brinkman’s story. In the very first story we listened to, it began by talking about the babies that Mrs. Brinkman had lost, and going to visit their grave. I have to say, this startled my sensitive son, who asked me “why are they talking about dead babies?”. It did open up a discussion about life, but I think knowing the background in that area would have helped.

However, from that point on, it was non-stop excitement. We have read about missionaries before, and our church actively supports many missionaries who have come to speak at our church. The thing is, so many times missionary stories seem kind of dry, or brutally violent, and I know that makes them realistic, but it has made it hard for my kids to get into hearing about them. The way the Brinkmans tell these stories absolutely draws them in! They have a gift for making you feel like you are right there with them, fleeing through the jungle and hiding from enemies.

Seriously, these stories are a perfect form of family entertainment. Try them out in the car, or after dinner. I can almost guarantee that you will be hooked. In addition to the stories, the Brinkman family has honest discussions about God and how He uses people to do his work. The kinds of discussions that can inspire your family to talk about these topics too. I would highly recommend the Brinkman adventures for some great family entertainment. The CD set costs $25.00, while the MP3 download costs $17.00. My kids are already after me to get another set!

To learn more about The Brinkmans, check out their Facebook page: The Brinkman Adventures on Facebook.

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this topic, click here:
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TOS Review: Home School Adventure Co.

Home School Adventure Co.

As my boys get older, teaching them a biblical worldview becomes more and more important to me. Especially now, with a high schooler preparing to enter dual enrollment classes, where I know his beliefs are going to be challenged. I want to prepare my son to defend his faith, but to be honest, I do not know much about Christian apologetics. So, I was very excited to get the chance to review the Mere Christianity Journal from Home School Adventure Co.

Mere Christianity Critical Analysis Journal

What it is:
The Mere Christianity journal is aimed at ages 12 and up and is meant to be a companion to the book Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Numerous copies of the book are available for download in the public domain if you do not already have it on your bookshelf. The journal is organized by chapter and contains thought-provoking questions for discussion.

How we used it:
I used this program with my 7th and 10th grade boys together. After downloading a copy of Mere Christianity, we spent at least three mornings a week reading through the book and discussing the questions. One thing I liked about this is the fact that Lewis’ book is organized in short chapters, making it easy to read out loud. After reading the chapter, I would read the questions and we would all talk about them. Each chapter is accompanied by a number of questions in the journal. Each question takes a point from the chapter and expands on it, or challenges you to think about how to apply it to real life. With the ages of my boys, this led to some lively discussions. I will say I was a little nervous about reading Mere Christianity at first, because I wasn’t sure how my boys would relate to a book written in the 1940s, but I have to say that Lewis’ topics are just as applicable today as they were then. Each week, we had some very pointed discussions that I think really made my boys question what it means to be a Christian and live a Christian life how they apply Christian principles to their everyday life.

What we thought:
I think the Mere Christianity journal is a great way to encourage discussion and conversation about topics that your child is going to encounter as they grow older. I appreciate how well the journal makes the questions easy to understand, and helps get kids thinking about how Lewis ideas apply to their lives today. He asks some hard questions, that really cause you to look at how you view Christianity and also about how other people view it through you. We know we are challenged to walk as light in this world, but how do you define what that means in a practical sense? This is a challenge all of us face as parents, and personally, I look for all the help I can get. With the Mere Christianity Journal and book, you have a really good place to start. Some of these questions really caused me to think about the ideas that I hold as well. I think this would work very well for Bible Study for homeschool middle schoolers and high schoolers. If you do a family Bible time, you may want to use this as a family during that time. The Mere Christianity journal costs $28.95 for a print edition and $18.95 for a digital download. They are currently offering a promotion that gives you 10 percent off until May 15. Use the code CREW-10 to get your discount! If you ask me, they are well worth it!

Home School Adventure Co.

If you want to know more about the Mere Christianity journal, check out the Home School Adventure Co. social media pages:

Home School Adventure Co. on Facebook

Home School Adventure Co. on Twitter

Home School Adventure Co. on Pinterest

Home School Adventure Co. on Instagram

Home School Adventure Co. on Google+

To find out more about the Mere Christianity Journal and the other products from Home School Adventure Co. that the Crew got to check out, click here:

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Garlic and Basil Chicken

Garlic Basil Chicken

Welcome to Try a New Recipe Tuesday. This week I am sharing a really easy chicken dish featuring some of my favorite flavors!

Tomato, basil, and garlic. Three of my favorite things!

Ingredients:
3-4 chicken breast
salt
pepper
Italian seasoning
2 tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
1 bunch basil
1 can diced tomatoes with garlic and basil
Olive oil
4 tbsp. butter
1 cup shredded Italian cheese
Angel Hair pasta, cooked

Directions:
1. Season chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning to taste.
2. Add enough Olive oil to cover the bottom of a skillet.
3. Place chicken breasts in skillet and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side, until the juices run clear.

4. Chop the tomatoes and garlic.
5. Cut the basil into ribbons.
5. Combine the chopped tomatoes, garlic, basil, and canned tomatoes in a small bowl.
6. Add the tomato mixture to the pan with the chicken and cook for about 3 minutes.
7. Add the butter to the pan and stir until it melts.

It smells so good!

8. Cook for a few more minutes until chicken is thoroughly cooked and everything is warmed through.
9. Serve over angel hair pasta.

This is just so good! My family loved it, and it made enough leftovers to heat up the next day!

Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to come back next week. Check out other recipes here:

Menu Plan Monday 4/21/14

This week is my youngest son’s 13 birthday! We have a tradition at our house where the birthday kid gets to choose his favorite meal on his special day, so our Thursday dinner is courtesy of Jakob!

Here’s our menu for the week:

Monday: Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Tuesday: Chicken Tamales

Wednesday: Spaghetti

Thursday: Empanadas (Happy Birthday!)

Friday: Pineapple Pork

Thanks for stopping by for this week’s Menu Plan Monday! I hope you have a great week. See you next Monday!

Planting, Sowing, Reaping

A baby corn stalk.

Ah…spring. The weather is the perfect temperature to draw you outside after a long cold winter. Or, in Florida, after a cool few days!! Our topic for this week’s Crew Carnival is Spring Studies. One of our major focuses this time of year is planting our spring garden. Although I grew up on a farm, I am ashamed to say I did not really get into growing things until recently. It just seemed like so much work!! But, with some encouragement from my mom, and a look at our budget, I thought that it would at least be worth a try. So two years ago we planted our first garden.

The oldest watering the garden.

 

Now, our first attempt was a mixed success. We did well with our lettuce, green beans, and tomatoes, and not so well with broccoli, squash, and some other vegetables. Eventually we discovered that broccoli grows very well in Florida in the fall. The thing is, my mom told me that every time you plant, you learn a little more. And she was right! Each time we plant, we learn more about how to prepare the soil, how to nurture our plants, how to protect them from bugs, and how much water they need.

Tomatoes

I find this a perfect analogy for our Christian walk in life and our relationship with the Lord. The Bible tells us that we reap what we sow. As we grow closer to God we learn about the things in our lives we need to nurture, and the things we need to weed out. We learn how to prepare our hearts to hear Him speak, how to protect our hearts from things that would lead us away from Him, and how to water, or support, those things that bring us closer to him.

 

Beans!

Mondays are our gardening days. While my boys have the task of watering each day (in Florida, gardens require quite a bit of water, especially when its dry), on Monday afternoons we head outside to weed, feed, and check for bugs. I use these times for conversations about how what we plant and how we plant it and care for it dictates what we grow. If we just scatter seeds with no forethought, and water haphazardly, and do not keep an eye out for errant weeds and bugs, our garden will fail and our crop will be small. But if we put in the time to plan how we plant, to prepare our soil, and to weed, water, and eliminate the bugs, our garden will grow and our crop will be more substantial.

The youngest watering the garden.

My boys are now almost 13 and 16 (gulp!). I feel that now more than ever it is so important that I work to deepen their understanding of God and faith. Yes, my boys have been raised in a Christian home, and yes, their hearts are fully turned toward the Lord (a fact that I am most thankful for!), but as they grow older, I know that they are going to face challenges that I am not going to always be able to influence or control. My son wants to start dual enrollment classes at a local community college in the fall. This is a great opportunity for him, but I know that he is going to face other students, and possibly professors, who will challenge his faith. Honestly, I only have a few more years until I release him to the world. At that point, he will encounter numerous people who may cause him to question what he has always believed, and to a certain extent, I realize this is a part of growing up.

Top: Garlic Bottom: Black eyed peas

However, I want to do all that I can to make him firm in his faith before he gets there. I want him to realize that there will always be people who question and challenge his beliefs, but that when he looks at the big picture, he can see the solid foundation of God in his life. In the way that our family has overcome so many struggles in the last four years, in the way God provides for us each and every week when money is tight, in the way the clouds move and the stars shine, and in the way these tiny seeds that we plant grow into incredible plants that we can eat.

Lettuce

So, we use the spring to focus on these topics. And I treasure my time in the garden with my boys!!

Do you garden? Let me know in the comments, I am always looking for new ideas!

To see what other crew members are doing for spring studies, check out this link: (goes live 4/23/14)
That's Pinteresting

Booklovers Anonymous: The Velveteen Rabbit

The Velveteen Rabbit. As you can see, our copy has been very much loved.

 

One of the first books to ever make me cry as a child, The Velveteen Rabbit is a beautiful story of love and loyalty. Written by Margery Williams and published in 1922, the story has enthralled children for decades. The beautiful illustrations, drawn by William Nicholson, make the characters seem so real. I remember wanting to hear the story over and over again as a child. I loved listening to the rabbit as he got to know the other toys in the nursery, feeling elation when he became the boys best friend, sadness when he was cast aside, and pure joy when he became real. This is an incredible story to share with your children.

The rabbit and his boy.

Of course, you can just read this book with your children for pure pleasure, but if you would like to do more, check out these resources.

Arkarts.com has a PDF with activities that involve studying the life cycle of real animals, visiting the seaside and learning about scarlet fever, crafts like making your own bunny, and more.

Hiding under the covers.

Pearson has a guide with some printable activities for younger elementary students.

This PDF has vocabulary activities, writing activities, discussion questions and activities for older children.

He’s a real rabbit!

At EDHelper, find links to crossword puzzles, writing prompts, quizzes, and bunch of other activities for younger and older students.

Snuggle up on the couch with your kids and their favorite stuffed animals and enjoy a classic, heart-warming story!

Saying goodbye.

Thanks for joining me for Booklovers Anonymous this week. If you have your own special memories of this story, please let me know in the comments. See you next Thursday!