Chicken Bites- Audra's pick
This recipe was introduced to us by one of our favorite families, during a small group party. It’s one that my family and even some friends request often!
2 lbs Chicken Breast
2 Fresh Jalapeños (optional)
1 Large Package Bacon
1 Block Cream Cheese
Salt and Pepper Chicken to Preference
Box of Toothpicks
Cut chicken into bite size nuggets and place in ziplock bag. Cover the chicken with Italian dressing and marinate for an hour or more.
Meanwhile, cut the entire package of bacon in half, and cut both jalapeños into small squares. Lay the strips of bacon out on a tray or on the counter.
Time to build your bites!
Place a piece of chicken on each strip of bacon, followed by a teaspoon full of cream cheese, and last, a piece of jalapeño.
Wrap the bacon around the chicken and secure each end with a toothpick.
Grill the chicken bites over an indirect flame, at a low temperature, for around an hour. The bacon should be crispy and the chicken should be cooked completely.
Serve with your favorite summer sides and enjoy! These are sure to be a hit at your next pool party!
Grilled Romaine Caesar Salad - Laura's pick
I remember the very first time we visited a particular local restaurant with some friends. They insisted that we try the Grilled Romaine Salad. Lettuce...on a grill?? How odd is that? But...oh WOW! Hands down the best salad I have had! We now have perfected this restaurant specialty at home and you can too!
All you need is romaine lettuce, olive oil, salt and pepper. Separate the romaine leaves on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and add a little salt and pepper. Place lettuce face down on the grill until it’s a little wilted. Add parmesan flakes and the dressing of your choice. We sometimes add grilled chicken too.
This is quick and easy and has become a summer favorite at our house!
Grilling in Bulk - Rebecca's pick
I don't have a particular grilling recipe that I love but I DO love it when my husband grills in bulk! He grills on the weekends and it's always enough meat, chicken, and pork to last the entire week. Lunches and dinners are a breeze! And, it helps us to stay on our eating plans (Trim Healthy Mama for me and low-carb for him). I just have to add fruits or veggies!
Grilled Peaches - Tammy's pick
Oh my goodness! If you've never eaten a grilled peach, you're in for a delightful treat!
1. After we finish grilling our meat, we half and de-pit peaches.
2. Brush with a little olive oil and place cut side down on the grill.
3. Cook each side for 3-4 minutes.
4. Place the cooked peach in a bowl.
5. Enjoy as is or top with a scoop of your favorite ice cream.
Taco Dip- Jaclyn's pick
This is my husband’s favorite taco dip (so unhealthy but oh so good). It’s not necessarily for summer but that tends to be when we make it.
2 cans of bean dip
3 medium ripe avocados
1 cup of sour cream
Half a cup of mayo
1 package taco seasoning
1 -8oz block of sharp Cheddar cheese
2 Roma tomatoes
Small can of sliced black olives
3 green onion stalks
Half of a lime
Dash of salt and pepper.
On a serving plate spread 2 cans of bean dip. Mash avocados and mix with salt and pepper and lime until smooth. Spread on top of bean dip. Mix sour cream and mayo with taco seasoning. Spread on top of avocado. Grate entire block of cheese and put on top of sour cream mixture. Dice tomatoes and put on top of cheese. Drain olives and put on top of tomatoes. Chop green onions and add on last. Serve with tortilla chips or fresh veggies. Delish!!
Water Play - Audra's Favorite
Jordan and I have always enjoyed lake trips since even before we were married. Fishing, tubing, playing hard all day in the sun. Now our kids love it too! In fact, Asher's first trip to the lake took place before he was even born. This is a picture of him with a friend when they were 4 years old. He was teaching her how to fish. Whether with friends or family, we always have a great time!
Slip-N-Slide - Laura's Favorite
Oh, how we love Summer! You won’t even hear us complain about the heat...well maybe if it’s over 100 degrees! We have an amazing hill at our house that’s perfect for a slip-n-slide and it’s by far our favorite thing to do in the summer. Whether it’s just our little family of four or if it’s lots of friends, there is always so much laughter and fun as we race down the hill and end up in the mud and grass! All you need is an industrial roll of plastic from a hardware store, a water hose and we prefer Dawn dishwashing liquid. We have tried many different soap/baby oil alternatives, and nothing does the job as well! Our kids ask for plastic and soap as gifts now for their birthday or Christmas! Ha!
Amusement Parks - Rebecca's Favorite
My family loves summer! Summertime is when we thrive!! Lots of quality time and togetherness! We especially love spending long days at amusement parks. This thrill-seeking family hasn't met a roller coaster that we haven't wanted to ride again & again! Strolling through the parks, drinking endless refills, and laughing all throughout the day makes amusement park days memorable days indeed (as long as the heat is tolerable, lol)!
Mission Trips - Tammy's Favorite
For most of my life mission trip was not something I would have put at the top of my summer to do list. That was until 7 years ago. Seven years ago, my man and I took a leap of faith and traveled 18 hours south to a small town on the TX/MX border. Our lives have never been the same.
Our kiddos were 5, 8, & 10 at the time. We traveled across the Rio Grande each day to one of the most dangerous cities on the North American continent. But in this dangerous area were pockets of precious families not sure where their next meal was coming from. They were in desperate want of basic needs such as medicine, and diapers, and a kind word. Most of all, their hearts needed the good news of Jesus. Our world was rocked.
To see my children be the hands and feet of Jesus does something to a momma's heart. To see my man used in ways out of his comfort zone made me love him more. To step out of my own little, selfish world changed me. I was hooked.
This is our 7th summer we've taken a week out of our summer to be in one of our favorite places on earth, a place that stretches us and grows us and gives us a little taste of heaven. That is why Mission Trips is my Top 5 choice for summer. I challenge you to make it yours, also. God truly catches you and grows you when you take a leap of faith for Him.
Homemade Pizza and Game Night - Kaci's Favorite
I love summer. I love everything about it and I always have. However since having children I have quickly learned our summers look a lot different than they did in the past. I have 2 little boys, one who just turned 4 and the other who just learned to walk. As a new mom one thing my husband and I do is declare Fridays for family. My 4 year old now refers to them as “family fun nights.”
One of our favorite things to do as a family is just a good ole’ fashioned game night and a homemade pizza contest. It’s a great way to beat the heat but still be intentional on how we spend our time together. I'm learning, as a new mom, there are lessons to be taught in almost everything we do. Game night and pizza contests are a great way to teach our 4 year old the value of teamwork, creativity, how to follow direction and that we don’t always win, and that’s ok. Simple family games such as Hungry Hungry Hippos, Operation, Kerplunk and Chutes & Ladders are some our all-time favorites . We grab our favorite snacks (usually consisting of sugar cookies and M&M's per my 4 year old's request) and deck out our dining room table. In a world where technology and social media is constantly robbing us of our time, taking it back to simple moments is just what this momma heart needs.
Homemade pizza contests are something my husband and I have done for the past 8 years and have since turned into a family favorite. We all make a trip to the store and pick out our favorite toppings. (I lose this contest every time but will never admit it to my boys) Pillsbury makes an easy dough to roll out and bake. Grab your favorite marinara sauce, and toppings and then let your kids do the rest, even if that consists of your kitchen looking like a bomb went off when you are finished .I love watching us all make our pizza with our favorite toppings. Each is so different. While mine is loaded with veggies, my husbands with meat and my sons with cheese only, I am reminded once again of how God creates us to be different. To like different things. To be our own person.
“Family fun nights” don’t have to be expensive, they don’t have to consist of even leaving your home, it just takes a little effort to make the choice to put the phones away and to love each other. To invest in one another. I look at my “family of boys” and love watching all our different personalities come to life through old fashioned board games and simple pizza making contests. Friday nights have easily become my favorite day of the week and I think it’s safe to say they are my boys, too.
The Holy Land-Audra's pick
Believe me, I know. This is not your typical “vaca spot”. I usually prefer a nice warm beach, sitting and watching the kids play in the waves. In fact before I went myself, I would have never thought of it in that way. It’s expensive, it’s not relaxing, it’s very far away, the media makes it look pretty scary...and I’m sure we could think of a few other negatives. But, it’s incredible! It is a life changing trip that if at all possible, you should go. Start saving now, start praying if your afraid, make a plan (even if it’s for a few years away). The Bible comes alive and you see things in a whole new way. It’s definitely not typical, but it is amazing!
San Diego, CA- Laura's pick
It's hard to pick just one favorite vacation spot, because we love to travel! We have been to San Diego twice and it is one of our favorites because of it's beauty, weather, and there is so much to do in a days drive. We rented a car and went exploring. One day we drove south into Tijuana, Mexico and spent the day. My favorite though is when we drove north along the coast up Highway 1 to Los Angeles. The little surf towns had the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants on the water (and still today is the best fish tacos we have ever had!), and we really saw surfers getting out of their Volkswagon vans! We were able to visit at Saddleback Church (Rick Warren) one day too as we headed up to LA. La Jolla is one of my favorite places to visit while out there as well...one day maybe my husband will get to play at Torrey Pines!
Texas Roadtrips - Rebecca's pick
There have been a couple of years that we decided not to go the Disney or beach route and headed to Texas instead. And, I will say, because these vacations included lots of new experiences, they have been the ones that we remember the most. We loved San Antonio and soaked up the Alamo tour and dinners on the River Walk. We followed that with a few days at Schlitterbahn waterpark in New Braunfels. At the time, it was ranked the biggest and best waterpark in the world on the Travel Channel.
Another Texas trip that we loved was a stay in Dallas/Fort Worth. Our time at the JFK Museum at the Texas School Book Depository was very poignant and moving. We lingered there for a quite a while as the impact of those events swirled in our minds. Walking the downtown streets was so enjoyable and filled with neat sights, too. We also visited the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and saw money being made. And, we went back 100 years in downtown Fort Worth to the Stockyards and watched the daily cattle drive down the streets. It was so neat! And, there's always Six Flags over Texas and conquering those roller coasters fears! And, the Fort Worth zoo is our favorite! The kids ask often when we are going to go back!
Helen, Georgia- Tammy's pick
If we're not going to the beach, we love to explore unique cities. Helen, Georgia is one that stands out in my mind. We spent two fun-filled days in Atlanta, and then drove 2 hours north to Helen. Their tagline is "It’s the charm of Bavaria, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains." It truly was like stepping into a German city. We loved roaming the cobblestone streets, sampling the German food, talking to the costumed tour guides, and listening to the European music. It was a relaxing vacation, full of rich memories. We're eager to return! http://www.helenga.org
Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach, Florida- Susannah's pick
I've been all over the place but my favorite vacation spots have to be these two beaches. They are such a gorgeous stretch of white sand and so peaceful and rarely crowded. The reason I love them the most is because of the many fond memories I have of vacationing there with my mother nearly every summer.
Q&A- Audra's pick
Between kids and work and life, sometimes you forget how to flirt and have fun. This is a great way to bring some fun communication and laughter to your marriage. Print “date night” questions off online, or make up your own. The point is to keep it light. So the questions might be, “What’s your favorite kind of date?”, “What has been your favorite vacation since we’ve been married?” “When did you first know you loved me?” “Would you rather be a profession athlete or famous musician?” And don’t be afraid to spice it up with a few questions. Remember, it’s ok, your married.
Dinner in the City - Laura's pick
Two things we love: local cuisine and a metropolitan city. We love spending time in Nashville and double dating with some of our friends! We love trying new foods, places with an eclectic menu and a great atmosphere.
Home Alone Night - Rebecca's pick
My husband and I are going on more and more dates since the children are now old enough to stay home without a babysitter (praise!!). However, as much as we love dinner out, double dates and long, uninterrupted conversations, what we love most is simply staying home alone together. The best date for us is when my parents take the kids for the weekend and we go into relax mode in our own home. We sleep in, eat whenever and whatever we want, read, talk, talk and talk some more. It's like a free vacation! And, it's a good recharge for our marriage!
Bookstore Scavenger Hunt - Tammy's pick
This date night is so much fun! We visited our favorite bookstore. The possibilities are endless, but we chose our favorite children's book, a recipe we'd like to make, a place we'd like to visit, and a riddle book. We then sat in the coffee shop and over our favorite hot beverage shared our finds. It was a fun way to laugh and dream and bond.
Back to the Beginning - Leslie's pick
As far as date night goes... we love to “go back to the beginning and have fun!”- by that I mean going on dates that we went on or would have went on at the beginning of our relationship. Putt-putt, bowling, adventuring to new local attractions with friends and even playing a tennis match together. We’ve discovered that we enjoy just having fun fills up our love tanks. We love dates that remove stress thru fun and laughter.
Self control-Audra's pick
This one Fruit of the Spirit can apply to so many of life’s circumstances. Whether deciding to eat “too much” candy or not, or whether or not to hit your sister, this character trait is useful. It doesn’t come easy in any situation. Not for mom, dad, or child. But, the more you apply it, the better you will be at learning to exhibit other traits as well.
Self -Discipline & Patience - Laura's pick
It's quite funny that these are the two characteristic traits that we focus on with our two children, because these are the hardest for me, their mom!
Macy - Self Discipline: She is ten years old and strives to do her best at whatever she tries. Many things have come rather easy for her and because of that, she thinks she should be able to pick up anything new and be the best. She gets completely frustrated when it doesn't happen. We are having to teach her that she has to create self-discipline in all areas of life, but when she really wants to excel in something, she must do the things required to get to that point.
Jude - Patience: He will be four in August, so I realize that not having patience comes with his age too, but there are ways he can be learning even now! We are teaching him that it's not all about him! He tends to turn on his whiny voice and a few tears when he doesn't get his way. Well, when that happens, he is learning that he really won't get what he wants. He has to ask us without tears or whining. Sometimes we will send him to his room until he can come back and ask us in the right way. He will walk into his room and immediately walk right back out and say, "I'm happy now!" and proceed to tell us what he needs! LOL
Kindness - Rebecca's pick
When we considered all the character traits that my husband and I want to consciously grow and develop in our children, there were many that jumped off the page. To narrow our focus, we zoomed in on each child and highlighted the traits that we want to continuously affirm and also the ones we need to focus more diligently on. Each child’s list is completely different! But, one trait that we unanimously agree is a priority in our home is KINDNESS.
Kindness in word and action is highlighted each and every day. We recognize words and acts of kindness with a high-five, a “Well Done,” a hug, or another affirmative gesture. In times where kindness is not shown, we push pause on life and discuss the deeper heart issue that the unkind behavior is revealing.
Faithfulness - Tammy's pick
As the years pass, the character traits we have cultivated in our kiddos have ebbed and flowed, but the one that stands out to me is faithfulness. Why? Because God has been so faithful to me. It stuns me how He hasn't dropped me or turned His back on me because of Jesus's shed blood on the cross. Therefore, despite my wandering heart, I strive to be faithful.
We also encourage this in our children. We have such mottos as: If you start something, finish it. If you said you'd do something, do it. If the going gets hard, press in. Be reliable. Be dependable. Be faithful to God, to yourself, to your tasks, and to others. In an unfaithful world, be faithful.
Christ-likeness- Pastor Kevin Carson
Trait: the desire to be God's kind of boy or girl. The goal is to teach our children their purpose in life is to be like Jesus, which is God's kind of boy or girl. We look for object lessons to use to emphasize both purpose and honoring God.
Two examples: we use a carpenter's pencil to emphasize its creator making the pencil with a specific purpose which is similar to God, and we regularly point their attention to sunsets & sunrises which declare the glory of God. If you look for them, there are many opportunities to help your children embrace God's purpose for life.
Office Pictures - Audra's pick
I asked my husband what his favorite Father’s Day gift from the past was and this is the gift he said. A picture frame with these pictures inside for his office at work.
Concert Tickets - Laura's pick
My husband LOVES concerts! I have to be honest, I can take them or leave them, but I have always gone with him because I know he enjoys them so much. He is now raising a little girl that shares his same love for concerts and the same bands! You can imagine my excitement when I discovered their favorite band would be forty-five minutes from our house! This particular band only has four shows scheduled this year, so to be so close to us is just unheard of! Macy and I didn't think twice, Daddy was getting tickets to see his favorite band for Father's Day and Macy will be sitting right beside him!
Quality Time - Rebecca's pick
Crowded summer schedules and out-of-town work is pulling my family in different directions right now. Quality time is at a premium! So, for Father's Day this year (which is also my middle kiddo's birthday), we are going to focus on togetherness. This week, while he's out of town again, the kids and I are going to plan out dad's (and brother's) big day. Then, on Sunday, we are going to take the entire day to focus on the family and have fun. There are very few presents that we ever remember, but creating memories is never forgotten!
The Gift that Keeps Giving - Tammy's pick
I know this veers off the path a bit, but probably the best Father's Day gift I've given my man is to show respect to him in front of our kiddos. I've counseled myself in good times and bad to make sure my kiddos don't hear a disrespectful word or tone or see a disapproving look from me towards their father. This does not always come easy for me. Trust me, I've had to apologize to my man as well as to my kiddos for my fleshly response at times.
But this is a win-win choice all around. My man's heart trusts me. My girls learn how to respect their future spouses. My son will hopefully seek a wife who will respect him. Most of all, I have peace knowing I'm fulfilling God's will for me as stated in Ephesians 5:33. Whether I think he deserves it or not, respect is the Father's Day gift that keeps giving.
Qalo Silicone Wedding Rings - Amberly's pick
My hubby doesn’t like wearing anything constricting and his metal wedding ring bothers him. He’s very active and works out every day. These rings are flexible and can be worn in the lake, pool, or any active thing we might choose to do. They are also affordable. I wear a set with no fear during summer activities of losing expensive rings. Plus they look cool. And everyone wants to look cool. Check them out here!
School's out for summer!! That means lazy days are here! What are your plans? What summertime activities are filling up your calendar pages? What's on your summer bucket list? Share with us and give us ideas!
Intentional Attention - Audra's pick
We are a go, go, go kind of family! Our summers are especially packed with mission trips, camps, visits to see family... All of these are GREAT things to do, and we plan to do them again this summer. However, along the way, in our downtime, I plan to put my phone down and be intentional with conversation, playing, cuddling...memory making! My kids are getting older and don’t NEED my help as much, but they still THRIVE from my attention.
Short Family Trips - Laura's pick
We normally plan one family vacation during the summer months to the beach, but this year we are changing it up a bit! Now that our kids are getting a little older, we want them to experience new places! So this summer is filled with baseball games, amusement parks and a little history!
Operation "Fun" Mom - Rebecca's pick
Since I'm not known for being a "fun" mom, I'm embracing this summer as an opportunity to kick Operation "Fun" Mom into effect. At least once a day, I'm going to do something fun with my kids. This means that I'll actually swim with them some instead of laying out with a good book. This also means that board games, puzzles, popsicle making, trampoline bouncing...whatever "fun" looks like...will fill our daily agendas. They are going to be like, "Whoa! What's happened to mom?" Ha!
Also, tying into this, I want to focus on each person's love language and express love to them in the way that they receive it best at least once per day (my husband included).
The Power of Three - Tammy's pick
Summers are full of 3's for us. 3 fun adventures, 3 new books, 3 new learning opportunities, and 3 new recipes. The adventures and recipes are easy as each of my 3 children chooses one thing and then puts it on the calendar. The 3 books and 3 learning opportunities are up to them and rewarded upon completion. Learning opportunities include anything of interest to them, such as learning how to solve the Rubik's cube, to how to clean a boat engine, to observing Physical Therapists at work.
I've had many high and lofty goals in my 17 years of parenting. The power of 3 is doable and sustainable for me. I can't wait to see how this summer intentionally unfolds filled with fun and meaningful memories all because of the power of 3.
Exercising with the Kids - Melissa's pick
My thirteen year old and I have made it a goal to run in the mornings this summer. When my ten year old heard about it, he decided he wanted to challenge himself, too. We aren't runners, but I'm looking forward to spending the time with the kids, and hopefully we will establish a habit that we all enjoy!