A beautiful marriage is built on the back of a beautiful friendship.  This is truly where it starts.  A marriage built on anything else is like a house made of straw.  It will bend and break at the first signs of a storm.  This friendship is built with time and experiences, heartaches and struggles.  Without these experiences together you have not built and laid the stepping stones that will allow you to walk along the path that is marriage.  Imagine a beautiful trail lined with wildflowers and tall trees.  The actual trail however is muddy and hard to walk through.  For you to make it down this path, these stones have to be laid so that your feet don’t sink and become stuck.  These stones are your experiences together as a couple and even as a family.  With every new challenge in life or every new obstacle overcome you are given a new stone.  When you lay that stone, you know that it is solid and it can be relied on for a place to safely stand.  It has been tested and you know that it is tried and true. Sometimes, people forget to put certain stones down and although you may be able to step around the spot that is nothing but mud, one day you will forget that it is not there and you will sink. 

As I said, my wife and I dated for six years before I asked her to marry me.  We grew together through college.  We were with each other when we took our first professional jobs and stepped into the real world.  We moved hundreds of miles away from family and built a life based solely around our love for each other.  Every issues and problem we worked through together as a couple.  We had nobody else to rely on but ourselves. We have been through it all.  These years were spent building a cobblestone path through the woods that is as solid as can be. 

Now, I’m not saying everyone should date for six years before they get married or that if you didn’t you won’t have the proper foundations.  What I am saying is that whatever your path is, make sure it is built on solid ground.  If your already in a marriage that isn’t what you imagined it to be, take a step back and see where the weak points are.  Build on those weak points by having meaningful conversations, quality time together, and last but not least, total honesty.  It is honesty about what you love about your marriage, what you want to change, and where you see you and your family in years to come that brings about real growth and healing. Remember, Family First.

Episode 51: Thanksgiving 2020 – Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events / When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Orange Juice

Hello everyone and welcome back! Today Nathan and I are flying solo as we reflect on all that we can be thankful for, as we recorded this on Thanksgiving Day. This year has been different for all of us and to top it all off,  we’ve had a streak of unfortunate events in our family lately.  We speak about some of these events, what we are doing to keep a positive mindset (some of which may sound funny to other people ), and how to tackle and embrace the season of winter rolling in.
So grab a seat and join us for inspiration in creating a holiday and winter season to remember for our families.
We hope you enjoy!

If you like what you hear and have enjoyed our show, please show your appreciation by subscribing to our Podcast and leaving us a review on your Podcast App of choice.
We would love to hear from you so please email us with any comments or questions you have.
Visit us and all of our content, including our blog, at
As always, let’s Light A Fire They Can’t Put Out
Thank you for listening!

Show Notes
What we mentioned:
Our Episode 6- Don’t Let the Winter Blues Get You Down

There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather  by Linda Åkeson McGurk

Christmas Season!

Thanksgiving just ended. That can only mean one thing: CHRISTMAS TIME! It is now socially acceptable to put out the Christmas decorations and blast the Christmas music! But let’s face it, most of us started doing that weeks ago because you know, the Year of Covid. We’re all over it and need some good cheer.

Fun fact: We had a station that started playing Christmas music about 2 weeks ago! And it was glorious! My son, who has developed my “affinity for elf culture” (quote from Buddy the Elf in Elf), yelled at me the other day because I wasn’t playing Christmas music. His exact words were “Mama! I don’t like that music! Put the Christmas music on!” I ain’t made about it.

So this family put out the Christmas decorations (including our 3 inflatables) and have been enjoying Christmas music and Christmas movies unashamedly. This got me to reflect on this past year, and it’s been a rough one. But Christmas is the season of joy, and we all need to find that joy again. So here is a list of a few of my favorite, relatively cheap, activities to get me in the Christmas spirit…

  1. Load up the car. Fill the travel mugs with hot chocolate. Blast the Christmas music. Drive around finding all the Christmas decorations. (Bonus – you can map out your route and do this each week to see if there are any changes. Literally never gets old.)
  2. Plan a Christmas movie marathon. Rearrange the furniture. Make stovetop popcorn. Load up on your favorite candies. Let each family member pick their favorite Christmas movie. (Bonus – you can make snack boxes where everyone gets popcorn, a candy, and soda to give it that movie theater feel. Extra bonus if you have a projector and pull this off outside!)
  3. Be an elf. Put together a treat box and deliver them to your friends around town. Make sure to practice good hygiene and use prepackaged items, because, you know, covid. (Bonus – leave a secret note with the package and try not to get caught! Have the note encourage your friends to pay it forward.)
  4. Host a family Christmas cookie bake-off. Everyone selects a Christmas cookie recipe. Bake it. Then let everyone sample each cookie to vote on their favorite.

I hope this list helps you get in the spirit and to come up with your own list! It’s never too late to start a tradition. Let’s work together to make the rest of 2020 amazing!

Self Care Isn’t Selfish

It’s Thanksgiving week. As a teacher, this begins the downhill trek to Christmas break and the New Year. Just to put it in perspective, there are 5 more Mondays in 2020. That sounds crazy to me!

Friends. This year has been a doozy! We started the year with rumors of a crazy virus in China. Schools went on Spring Break and never went back. Toilet paper and cleaning supplies went MIA for a while. Summer came with the slow reopening of different places. School started back with traditional, hybrid, and online options. Halloween was cancelled in some states. Elections brought lots of emotions. And now we’re approaching Thanksgiving. And Christmas.

Just writing about this year is stressing me out! This is just a list of the shared experiences. To top it off, some of us had to handle the loss of loved ones, new babies, loss of jobs, health scares…the list could go on! Suffice it to say – we need a break and we deserve one!

This post serves as a reminder to everyone that it’s okay to take a day off. It’s okay to call out of work, even if you aren’t sick. It’s okay to take a day off from homeschooling the kids. It’s okay to order pizza or takeout, instead of preparing a home cooked meal with all the essential nutrients. What’s your favorite way to release the stress?

Yesterday, I turned on the Michael Buble Christmas station on Pandora and put up Christmas decorations with the kids. Does it look perfect? Absolutely not! Did we have a good time? Absolutely yes! And at some point this week, we’re going to bake cookies and watch The Grinch. Because that is what will make my heart happy. What makes your heart happy?

Re-Imagine Series – Episode 50: Life On The Road: Family, Freedom, & Travel / Bryanna from Crazy Family Adventure

Hello everyone and welcome back! Today we have Bryanna from Crazy Family Adventure joining us.  She is an Unschooling Mama to 4, entrepreneur, and creator of Crazy Family Adventure.  Six years ago, Bryanna and her husband Craig decided to sell EVERYTHING and move into an RV to travel full time. Their goal is to enjoy each other, focus on the moment, and spend as much time together as they can while spreading the word that you can truly deepen your family bond through travel.
Our discussion spanned from their decision to leave a seemingly normal life, moving into an RV and traveling full time, Unschooling their children, and the trials, tribulations, and rewards of living a life on the road.
We truly enjoyed this conversation with Bryanna as she is a very open and genuine person. 
So grab a seat and join us as we discuss one family’s mission of family, freedom, and travel.
We hope you enjoy!

If you like what you hear and have enjoyed our show, please show your appreciation by subscribing to our Podcast and leaving us a review on your Podcast App of choice.
We would love to hear from you so please email us with any comments or questions you have.
Visit us and all of our content, including our blog, at
As always, let’s Light A Fire They Can’t Put Out
Thank you for listening!

Show Notes
You can also find Crazy Family Adventure on YouTube, Instagram, and most social media platforms.


How is fall treating everyone? Are you where it’s nice and cool, with the smells of autumn and fir in the air? Or even super cold with already seeing snow? If so, but envy you! South Mississippi has only had brief moments of what feels like fall, but mostly it’s been HOT! Wake up, walk outside and it’s already 70 degrees and climbing. Yet, I can honestly say that today I walked outside in my typical shorts and tank only to be met with a blast of cold air! I ran inside to check the temp and it was only 60 degrees out! 20 degrees cooler than yesterday. So yeah, I got to wear a sweatshirt for a few hours.
With that said, I’m dreaming of the typical fall cooking and the smells that warm up the kitchen this time of year. My dads famous soup, that I stole the recipe for; pumpkin bread; cookies; muffins…just to name a few. So this weekend, despite the heat, I made my never fail Blueberry Muffins. Yeah, not the super healthy version, but to me, anything you make at home and know what is going into that recipe is a thousand times better than store bought any day!

I do occasionally sun out the flour for whole wheat or even ground up oatmeal. Use flax eggs instead of eggs. Find a healthier sugar substitute for the sugar… but this time I stuck to the regular no fail good old fashioned recipe.

so here ya go!!! Enjoy! And they are best straight from the oven! Yummy!

Blueberry Muffins

preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix together:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1/3 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup blueberries

pour into a muffin tin lined with cupcake liners.

then mix together:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup flour

1/4 cup butter chilled and cubed

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

mix all together til crumbly and add to the tops of the uncooked muffins.

bake for 20-25 min.


Episode 49: Preserving Children’s Classic Literature / Brad & Melanie Hasse from The Junior Classics Podcast

Hello everyone and welcome back! Today we have Brad (AKA Sir Bradley) and Melanie Hasse, creators of The Junior Classics Podcast, joining us. Brad is a modern day knight on a mission to preserve the wisdom in the classics before it is lost forever. He served as a member of the First Ranger Batallion and now serves as a Police Officer.  With the help of his wife Melanie, they are “inspiring children and families to a love of good reading and a real and lasting interest in Western literature, history, and scholarship”. 

The Junior Classics Podcast is a story-driven podcast for kids that takes classic literature and reads them in a dramatized fashion that is engaging for all members of the family.
In this episode we discuss the importance of rich and wholesome literature for children along with the benefits of hearing these stories.
As busy parents, we could all use some help in adding more read aloud time to our days through good audio stories!
So grab a seat and join us as we discuss one family’s mission in preserving the classics for our children’s future. We hope you enjoy!

Stay tuned next week for a Re-Imagine Series episode.  We have Bryanna from Crazy Family Adventure joining us to discuss life on the road as a full-time traveling family of 6! Be sure to check out their website and social media pages in the meantime.

Please visit us and all of our content, including our blog, at
As always, let’s Light A Fire They Can’t Put Out
Thank you for listening!

Show Notes
You can also find The Junior Classics Podcast on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

Other Podcasts mentioned:
Read Aloud Revival
The Music Podcast for Kids

Article quote referenced in episode:,gauge%20what%20they%20might%20be

The Military Path: Debt Free College Education

It was twelve years ago that I sat down in a recruiting office and made the decision to sign on the dotted line and commit my life to the United States military.  It sounds scary but it has been the best decision of my life as well as my family’s life.  For most people that scenario takes place in high school but mine was as a college graduate, who was already in a great career, along with my wife who was a full time RN. I just could never shake the feeling that I had to serve.  With great-grandparents who came from Italy during WWI to join the US military and grandparents who fought in WWII, I felt that with everything this country has given us I had to serve or I would regret it forever.  My wife and I took a leap of faith when we left our comfortable world and we have never looked back. 

Most people have a pre-conceived notion of what the military looks like.  They watch movies and TV shows and presume to know what an average day is like.  A career in the military can be vastly different for many people.  For some, they choose to live the life that appears on tv, although even that is dramatized.  Then there are those who live a seemingly “normal life”.  The military is a massive organization.  It needs people from all different backgrounds to operate, including people in the medical field, finance, supply chain, science, engineering, construction, and the list goes on.  They are looking for the best and brightest to build the greatest military in the world.  The military does more than fight.  They run humanitarian missions, build and engineer structures, act as peacekeepers, train allies to keep peace in other areas of the world, and even protect our own citizens here in the United States. 

So as a parent myself, what would I tell my own children if they were interested in a career in the military or even just a 4-year tour? First, I would tell them to do their own research online.  Each service has a comprehensive website that will typically contain most of the information that you are looking for.  Each service has something different to offer so research and self-reflection are key.  Your child needs to think about what they want out of their time in the military and what their interests are.  It will at least provide you with the basics.  Secondly, speak with someone that is serving or that has served.  See what they have to say about their time and their experiences.  Get the information directly from the horse’s mouth.  I promise you that if you approach a veteran or active duty member with your high school aged child, they will be more than happy to speak with them.  Finally, I would say make an appointment with a recruiter.  Yes, the dreaded recruiter.  Remember, you are only going there to ask questions and gather more information.  Its not like the movies, they are not going to trick you into signing up and shipping your child off that same day.  So, go and ask lots of questions but go there armed with information and an agenda.  Don’t have your son or daughter arrive with no idea about what interests them or what is available in that particular service.  Remember, knowledge is potential power.  It is only as good as the plan that you have for it.  So, have a plan. 

I know that I am speaking to a group of parents whose children more than likely have some college credit or more.  So, the question is, how does this benefit my child if they were to join the military?  Having college credit is a major plus in the military.  All services reward education because, as stated before, they are looking for bright individuals to fill the ranks.  The military, believe it or not, pushes education more so than most other organizations.  They reward current education, they hand you the opportunity to pursue future education (GI Bill), and once you’re in they even hand you money to take courses while you are serving (Tuition Assistance).  I am half way through my master’s degree through the University of Louisville all payed for with tuition assistance.  I still have my GI Bill that I have signed over to my children.

I wish I could tell you every detail from every service when it comes to joining the military with college credit but there are just too many differences and variables.  However, I can tell you some of the major benefits that you will come across.

  1.  Each service varies but you can enter at a higher paygrade depending on the amount of credits you have earned.  This means your child will be making more money right out of the gate and this could be several hundred dollars more a month.  There are different tiers to this system as well.  The more credits the higher the rank (although there is a ceiling).
  2. With a college degree or college credits (all services are different when it comes to what is required) your child has the opportunity to apply to become an officer.  Typically, when first entering the military you will be required to have at least a bachelors degree to apply to become an officer, however in some services, once you are already enlisted for a period of time you can apply with a certain amount of credits.  The officer path opens up many different doors and an increased income.  There is a lot of competition for these opportunities so there is a lot that goes into building a package for the selection panels.  This is all done through a recruiter. 
  3. As mentioned before, all enlisted members are privy to Tuition Assistance.  The amount available changes year to year but it is plenty for an individual to take college courses throughout the year while having a full-time job in the military.  Tuition Assistance is free money to be used towards college credits.  Certain schools have military prices that are exactly the amount provided through Tuition Assistance, meaning the courses are completely covered (University of Louisville).  If they already have college credit, the path to a degree is that much closer.  This is a path to a debt free education and also an opportunity to become an officer.
  4. Then there is the GI Bill.  If your child’s sole purpose of joining the military is to receive a free education then the GI Bill is exactly what they are looking for.  The GI Bill will pay for a four-year degree from the most expensive in-state school that you reside in.  This pays for tuition, a stipend for books, and even gives you a monthly payment for housing at the E-5 pay level.  If your child wants to attend a private school, many have what is called the yellow ribbon program which covers the amount that the GI Bill does not.  Anyone joining and serving honorably for their 4-year tour is eligible for the GI Bill.
  5. I also know that many of the students out there may have certifications in different fields.  Make sure to bring that up to the recruiter because there is the potential for signing bonuses.  These all change with the needs of each service but it is always wise to ask.  The Coast Guard specifically had a signing bonus of $30,000 for those with certain culinary certifications and a $40,000 bonus for those with at least an AA in the culinary field if they pursued a path to become a Culinary Specialist (these are all subject to change so contact a recruiter). 
  6. Finally, each service has many opportunities that come about once you are enlisted.  These can include opportunities to apply for programs to go to law school, med school, specialty schools, etc. and for the most part you are required to have either a certain amount of college credits or a degree.  Education opens the world up for you in the military.  It provides you with opportunities that just don’t exist without it.

I wish that I could be more specific when it comes to each individual service but the details change and the programs vary so it would not be wise for me to give you false information.  Now that you know that these opportunities exist you can at least be filled with the knowledge to intelligently approach a recruiter and ask the right questions.  I hope that you and your student will at least consider a career in the military.  I know that the morals and values that exist in the homeschooling community are a great asset to all the services and the experiences and opportunities that will be provided to them will last a life time.  If you have any questions please feel free to reach out.  I want to thank Jennifer for giving me the chance to contribute to this community and I wish you and your families all the best.     


It feels like I have fallen off the earth since I last posted anything! We were hit by Hurricane Zeta, what a week and a half ago?? Being onthe Gulf Coast of Mississippi, we have been in the target zone for just about every hurricane this season that entered the Gulf, but despite the hype and preparations, nothing. Then Zeta happened. Just supposed to be a nothing storm, with the eye hitting NOLA before crossing over us. As it got closer, the eye moved a little more north, but the track remained the same. “Projected to be a cat 1, possibly cat 2 and 50mph winds.” In other words, despite the obvious that we would get hit, no one prepared for this storm. Everyone said it would pass like every other storm. I wasn’t convinced.

Wednesday evening, and very slowly, as it got closer to the kids bed time, the winds started to pick up and the rains started to come in. For the first time ever, my husband was actually with us and for that I’m grateful because as the winds began to howl, so did the kids.

We were on the north eastern quadrant of the storm, so of course we were going to end up with the worst of it. 8pm and the power went out and the house shook with the intensity of the winds. The kids were freaking out, and I didn’t blame them as we heard shingles being ripped off the roof and sliding to the ground. Sitting in the living room, the noise was awful. Every so often, my husband would grab a flashlight and circle the perimeter of the house to see what exactly we were losing. Finally at one point he was looking out the window and said he could see the back neighbors car in much greater detail than before. As we both looked with flashlights, we saw that we lost half our fence!

I moved us to the girls room, which was away from all the noise and where it was located, was blocked from the winds. We sat with candles and uno cards and proceeded to play cards until the winds slowly began to die away and calm down. Lucky for us, the storm brought very cool temperatures and we were able to open the windows and sleep comfortably. (Note: even though it’s currently November, we are back to low 80s!! It’s freakishly hot right now!)

The next morning we examined the destruction, found a gas station that had power so we could grab coffee and food, came back and got to work cleaning. My five year old asked if we were having school that day and I responded with “this is school.” And took that moment to make it a learning moment as we made piles of debris.

Lucky for us we only lost power for 24 hours, and aside from fence and shingles, we didn’t suffer any other damage. Thank God for that. But because of all the broken limbs and branches, it was an opportunity for my husband to clean up the yard the way we had intended to clean it up when we moved in four years ago…. sometimes it takes a hurricane to create enough damage to motivate you to clean up completely and start over.

As you can see, I’ve been playing catch up! But I have taken the opportunity to utilize what the kids have found in the yard to create this killer castle fort! We also turned giant branches into horses that spent hours riding around instead of their bikes. Nothing like having the opportunity to use your imagination and have fun without spending a dime! All it took was a cheap hot glue gun, random buttons, yarn, sticks and an abandoned box. Have at it!


Episode 48: Mother Natured with Penny Whitehouse / Connecting Kids with Nature

Hello everyone and welcome back! Today we have Penny Whitehouse, creator of Mother Natured, joining us. Penny holds an Applied Science degree in Wildlife Biology, a graduate diploma in Education, and has experience as a zookeeper as well as a wildlife education officer and an environmental educator .

As a working mother, she knows how hectic life can get and how easy it can be to push nature play down the list of priorities as more pressing tasks take up our attention.
Her hope is that by raising nature-connected kids, we will encourage a generation that will love and protect the natural environment. Penny has created Mother Natured as a resource and tool to guide parents in helping their kids connect with nature.
We hope you enjoy the conversation and are inspired to make nature play a priority in your family’s life!

Stay tuned next week when we have the creators of the Junior Classics Podcast, Bradley and Melanie Hasse, join us to discuss their podcast for kids that is ‘inspiring children and families to a love of good reading and a real and lasting interest in Western literature, history, and scholarship.’ Be sure to check out their website and podcast in the meantime!

Please visit us and all of our content, including our blog, at
As always, let’s Light A Fire They Can’t Put Out
Thanks for listening!

Show Notes
Nature Play Club:

Free Nature Play Pack filled with free printables!