Teaching Good Things

Practical Skills for Real Life

Teaching Good Things - Practical Skills for Real Life

How to Make a Lego Man Cake

how-to make lego man cake

1 – 8″ round

1 – 9×13

1 – 8″ square

Cut to shape.

Carve arm, then lay it on top of the other one so they are the same size and shape.

‘Glue’ together with buttercream.

Dirty ice with buttercream. Ice head with a bright yellow and then hot knife it to make it smooth. Add hair with a decorating spatula.

This is decorated with a 21 star tip – super easy!

I piped out the parts that needed to be accented before adding the stars.

Lastly, add the black. white and gray accents.

Let the black air dry for a few minutes before adding the white so it won’t bleed.

How to Make an Elephant Cake 

how to make a lego man cake

How to Host a Thanksgiving Feast and Unit Study 

Thanksgiving feast and unit study

Purpose: Fellowship, food, education in the form of an opportunity for our kids to research, study and prepare a presentation about the first Thanksgiving (public speaking skills). Their presentation does not have to be long, detailed or polished.  This is a good starting point for the younger children, even if they only tell one fact.

2 Weeks Before Feast Day

Each family began their own unit study/research.  Each child is asked to dress in character and present something they have learned; it can be a poem, a song, a reenactment, a speech, whatever they want.

Ways to document/incorporate their studies:

  • Make notes on your history timeline.
  • Make a binder or lapbook that can be added to each year.
  • Look on Pinterest for several good ideas for timelines, binders and lapbooks.
  • Look up quotes from William Bradford or others for copy-work.
  • Use words from your reading (or video research) for vocabulary and spelling.

Possible Topics:

  • Characters- William Bradford, King of England, Samoset, etc…
  • Natives or Pilgrims in General
  • The Mayflower
  • Food
  • Life Before the Pilgrims Came
  • Clothing
  • Education
  • Recreation (children’s games)
  • Worship/Faith
  • The Common House
  • How They Built Their Houses
  • Music of the Time – instruments/hymns
  • Weapons
  • Hunting
  • Agriculture


These are a few books and videos our family used for our research.


Free Videos

YouTube is a great, just create a playlist before you have your children watch to avoid ‘trash’ showing up on the sidebar.  This is the list I made, some are educational and some are just for fun. I will be adding to this as time goes on.

Costume Ideas

1 Week Before Feast Day

Plan a menu having each family bring a couple of things, whether you stick to an authentic early American meal or not. It is real interesting to learn what they did have and what they didn’t at that first gathering. Can you imagine “Thanksgiving” without mashed potatoes?

Here are a few pictures from our first annual feast.  I hope we can build on it each year!

Olivia made these beautiful centerpieces for the tables.

We gathered several tables. Thankfully we had a gorgeous day!

Sweet friends!

It was hard to get pictures of the boys. They were busy building new settlements in the woods or playing football!

Our three!

A couple of our husbands lead a time of singing and worship.

The kids did great with their presentations.

A time for giving thanks for another baby on the way!

My girls!!!

6 month pregnant Emma!

Where is Somewhere?

Posted by Olivia

where is somewhere Olivia Brodock

After writing, From a Homeschooler Who Obviously Survived, I’ve received a lot of commentary on the subject of life after schooling. My favorite comment so far has been this:

“What I want to know is does the author have a real job, with benefits that’s going somewhere?”

When I read this, I was excited for two reasons. Firstly, it gave me reason to reevaluate my plan. My 5 year and 10 year plans are detailed road maps to my somewhere. While my two jobs (between 70-80 hours a week), two bi weekly cleaning jobs, monthly non profit work on the board of directors of a crisis pregnancy center and my other ventures may not seem glamorous right now, they are in fact a calculated, well thought out part of my plan.

A job with benefits is all good and well, unless you only have that job to pay the bills, not because you love what you’re doing. Now, I’m all about making wise decisions but no one is going to love every facet of their job, there are some really crumby aspects to every line of work. That said, if you are pursing that “somewhere” then it’s worth it. It’s more than worth it.

As a very real example, I’ll give you myself. I want to own a cooking school for kids who age out of foster care. Did you know, as of 2012, 80% of the prison population in Texas had been in foster care? Did you know that 50-60% of the kids who “age out” of foster care end up on the streets, homeless, in jail or dead, within a year of ageing out? That breaks me. So when I have really long hard days at work, when I’m running an 18 hour day that saw me leaving the house at 5:30 and not coming back to crash till nearly midnight, I can focus on the end goal, the “somewhere”.

I want to go to cooking school in Ireland, it’s highly suggested that you have at least a year of day to day grind in a professional kitchen before you apply to cooking school.  My plan is to work (really, really hard) for that year. Learning everything I possibly can about the business side of the industry. Apply for the school. Wait to be accepted. Attend the school. Tour Europe. Come home. Work in an upscale restaurant while we (my family and I) build a wedding/event barn. The wedding barn will contain a professional kitchen that we will be able to run a catering business out of, that along with the renting out of the facility will provide the funds to build the Big House.  The Big House when finished, will house eight students who have aged out of foster care and need a place to live and real life training. The Big House will have a huge commercial grade kitchen and be a place of hope, a launching pad for these kids who have no options.

The wedding barn and catering business will be run as a full fledged business. The school will be run solely as a nonprofit. The children who come to Valor Farms will be on scholarship. They should complete the course in three months. During those months they will not only be equipped with the skills necessary to work in a real kitchen, but an appreciation for good food, family and faith. And while I haven’t worked out all the details, I am diligently seeking both wisdom and direction, so if you know of anyone who may have valid input, let me know.

My “somewhere” isn’t a plush gig with health and dental. My “somewhere” isn’t a corner office with a view. My “somewhere” is most certainly not retiring at 60 with loads of cash.

No, my “somewhere” is a little country school that empowers young people, who have been neglected by society, to reclaim their future. To show them that their God loves them, that He knows the plan that He has for them, plans to prosper and not to harm, plans to give them a hope and a future.

Secondly, the comment excited me because it would give me an opportunity to say this: Wherever you think your somewhere is, His somewhere for you may look entirely different than mine.  We can’t be so caught up in seeking security and comfort we forget that life is risky, life is often uncomfortable and hard. Job security, benefits, climbing the ladder are not bad in their own right, but I have more faith in God than social security, more reliance on Christ than Blue Cross Blue Shield. I trust Him enough to follow a calling that I’m quite sure will break my heart, ensure I never marry, and leaves me, a used up old woman, clinging to her Savior for her hope and her future.

Do I have a job with benefits that’s going somewhere? You decide.


olivia brodock

Written by Olivia Brodock, author of No More Wasted Years, and is a chef, peer counselor and board member at a local crisis pregnancy center, writer, missionary and visionary. She lives on beautiful Straight Mountain in North Alabama, where she attempts to carry out the Great Commission with her family.

Good Things on the Web Weekly Review 11/1/14





Good Things on the Web

Family Update:

LOTS going on, fall festivals, a Swedish son, growing children, hospitality, quilt shows and some challenging cakes!

Our most exciting news is that we have a grandson growing!!!  3 months to go!

We had a visit from our Swedish son (exchange student 15 years ago). It was so good to spend time with him!

Because we have a small home fall is a great time for us to practice hospitality.

We took the kids to their first quilt show and had a picnic.

Then there was this challenging cake made for a 50th birthday. The shoe is made of modeling chocolate and totally edible.  I’m so glad I learned how to decorate cakes 26 years ago!


Favorite quote of the week:

Paul Harvey on Hard Work. Take a listen, it’s only 4 minutes!

Teaching Good Things


pumpkin potholders


Beautiful Eyes

Does Abuse and Neglect REALLY Happen in Homeschool Families

How to Make an Elephant Cake


Some Good Reads on the Web:

 How to Stretch One Chicken Through Five Meals




Free Pattern for this brick barbecue. 

Remember if you buy from Amazon, we GREATLY appreciate it if you’d use our link… it puts a little change in our pocket and helps keep this website running. THANK YOU!

Does Abuse and Neglect REALLY Happen in Homeschool Families?

Does Abuse and Neglect REALLY Happen in Homeschool Families

This week’s post, From a Homeschool Victim Who Obviously Survived, written by our adult daughter about her homeschool years has caused quite a stir. It has been shared 35,000 times on Facebook and been the center of some heated conversations and also been the source of great encouragement to parents to keep doing the tough job of parenting. There was MUCH more positive feedback  than negative.

I would like to address some of the negative comments. And just for the record, I did not publish the comments that were hostile. Those who were dissenting and yet respectful were published.

One other thing, this website/blog is run by me, it is run as a business and ministry. Occasionally, Olivia will post, although I wish she’d post more because she is a gifted writer. BUT she works 3 jobs and has very little time for writing and debating in the comment section. This is why you will see me answer some of the comments for her.  It’s called working together, we do a lot of that as a family! There are some comments I am saving for her to address.

The following is a comment that I did publish, it was on the nicer side:

This article is full of it lol I was homeschooled all 12 years and I will never advocate it. I understand results may very, and if you have the right parents then heck you might survive! But what about the homeschoolers I knew who were so sheltered and unsocialized they became mentally unstable? What about the ones like me who struggle with depression because I was not allowed to have my own opinions or choices? What about all the brainwashing that goes on? Did you ever stop to think about your own life choices? About the real world? Or is your life a cookie cutter of your parents? Like I said, results may very… I will be fair and say I knew homeschoolers who were fine because their parents did it right. But I also knew parents who used it to hide physical abuse.. I knew homeschoolers who had no social functions and will pretty much be a waste in society. It shouldn’t be allowed because some parents REALLY don’t know what to teach their kids and they end up not knowing the simplest of things. As for myself, well I like to think I did survive. I’m doing good. But I struggle with depression, anxiety, ADHD, and other problems. But I can function in the real world. Unfortunately, I can’t say that for the rest of the ppl I knew. ~Bekah


Does abuse and neglect really happen in homeschool families?

I’m sure it does, although I don’t know anyone personally and we live in a very large homeschooling community. I’d be foolish to say there is none.  There is abuse/neglect in every segment of life.  Does that mean we should just accept it? No!  It should be dealt with legally and spiritually.

The problem is not homeschooling, and to say that it “should not be allowed” because some parents may hide behind it is ludicrous. What is the other option? Turn the children over to the power-driven, money-hungry government and strangers? We know how well they handle the national budget and foreign affairs.

Let’s think this through and be consistent.

Are there law enforcement officers that abuse their positions? Should we do away with them because of the few abusive ones?

Are there public school teachers and bus drivers who abuse their students? Should we do away with all of them?

Are there therapist that abuse their clients? Should we shut them all down because no one can be trusted?

There are those in ministry that hide behind their pulpit only to abuse the weak and seeking? Should we close all churches and ministries down because of the wicked ones?

Are there husbands who abuse their wives? And wives that break trust with adultery. Should we do away with marriage?

Are there parents who send their kids to public school who abuse and neglect their children? Should we allow no one to be a parent?

The problem with those who attack homeschooling because of a few parents who have been abusive or neglectful don’t understand that it is not an issue of homeschooling, it is an issue of abuse.

We are all anti-abuse no matter what the offender hides behind. But to go on the warpath to label and discredit homeschoolers, or law enforcement officers, or bus drivers, etc…  as a whole is a form of abuse itself.

About Abuse and Being a Victim 

Abuse and neglect does happen.  We all know this.  There needs to be a voice for the victim, if not their own voice someone needs to be heard for them. There needs to be punishment for the offender. But more than that, there needs to be healing and repentance. If there is no healing, even if the offender does not repent, there will be no moving forward. You are just stuck, dying a slow death with no joy, no peace, no life!

I am no stranger to abuse. Although I have never been physically beaten I have endured my own nightmares, some of which I will never speak to another soul about, not even my husband. I also know the pain of never being able to measure up, of words that cut deep and being abandoned by a parent.  I know that pain is real, the hurt is deep.

One of my dearest real life friends endured a hell of a childhood. Her own father even tried to run her over with a car. She knows pain, she knows rejection. Her scars are deep. But she is one of the most grace-filled people I have ever met. As an emotionally and spiritually healthy adult in her 40’s, she sat at her father’s bedside while he was dying and he still spewed words of bitterness and abuse towards her, yet, she had compassion on him.   This same friend has done more to reach out to the unloved and unlovable than anyone I know personally. Does she struggle with that hurt? Does that pain rear it’s ugly head from time to time? Sure! But through Christ she is an over-comer. She will rarely talk of her abuse because that is not her identity. She lives a full life of victory.

Just last week I met a man who was raised in a Russian orphanage. An orphanage with no love, no nurturing, no “real life” outside those prison walls. He grew up enduring abuse and neglect. This man, now almost 40, will light up a room with his love for God and for people!  He is using his life to minister to those who are aging out of the orphanages in Russia. This man, through the grace of God, is an over-comer. He will not sit and constantly talk to you of the abuses he endured, but he’d rather tell you about freedom, and healing… and LIFE! He would call himself a victor, not a victim.

Three years ago we were asked to take in three children, a sibling group (they were public schooled but it really doesn’t matter in this situation). These three were 2, 6 and 8. These children were neglected, they have seen and heard things no child should know. These three have been rejected and abandoned my their mother and their fathers, along with the rejection of their extended family. These three know abuse and they know pain.  By-the-way, they were “helped/rescued” not because they were in public school, but because there was a drug bust after previous offenses by the adults in their lives. The “safety net of public school” was not their salvation.

As we are slowly teaching these children to trust and love (which is a very long, bumpy road) we are equipping them with a worldview to allow them to heal, to let go of bitterness, to forgive. We are not there yet, but we are working on it slowly, and I am sure there will always be an inner struggle (just as I have), but they can be over-comers. We are very open with them and they are free to talk about their past and we listen, usually without comments, but just let them talk. The thing is, they don’t really relish in their abuse and as time goes on they talk less and less about it. This I give glory to God for.

We are encouraging them to have forgiveness and compassion towards their birth parents. We pray for the salvation of their mother, who is now in prison. We are also teaching them HOW to break the cycle of abuse and neglect even with the simplest things such as playing baby-dolls and sweetly talking about how good mommies take care of their babies.

Just yesterday I had Aaron, my now 9 year old snuggle with me while we rocked, he says his is too big to snuggle, but I know he really wants to. :)  I softly asked him. “Do you know I prayed for you before you were even born?” He was puzzled. I said, “Yes! I was asking God 12 years ago to bring us more children. It took Him a little while, but He brought me YOU!  God has been so good to me and you!”  I hope He will use their pain to help others, but only if they move past the bitterness and self-pity.

Then there is Joseph. His bothers threw him in a pit, they sold him into slavery and he ended up in prison!  God used that hard providence to bring provision, to bring LIFE  to so many. Was Joseph angry? Was he filled with self-pity?  I wonder if he would have written dozens of blog posts about his abuse? Most likely not, because Joseph was filled with wisdom and compassion, even for those that abused him.

And we save the best for last, Jesus! No one has endured what He has, yet even at the moment of His death He was moved with compassion and asked God to forgive them.

Is there abuse in the homeschool movement? Sure.

Are there some leaders that are corrupt?  No doubt!

Should there be accountability and punishment? YES!

Is there abuse in other segments of life? Be honest and be consistent!

Does that give us a right to lament every little detail publicly about how we’ve been wronged?  At what point do we seek forgiveness, whether giving it or receiving it? When can we thank God for His mercy and use those horrible things for good?

Because I have been abandoned I will fight to be by the side of my husband and children.  I WILL break the cycle of broken families by the grace of God.

Where is the victory?

You will never find it as long as you gather with others , physically or virtually, who want to keep digging that scab off and oozing out bitterness.

One of the very first things we taught our youngest three was that God was merciful and that He directs their footsteps, but how they choose to respond was up to them. We don’t know why it had to be a hard journey for them but we trust that God is working a bigger plan.  If they choose to live a life of self-pity then they will never have peace and joy.  God gives grace to those who ask for it.

My point is, quit blaming blaming homeschooling because some abusive parents hide behind it.

The majority of homeschool parents are laying down their lives to give their kids the best they have, even if it is not perfect, even if they wear thrift store clothes and don’t study higher math.  And if you believe every public school teacher, in every classroom across this nation will give your child a top-notch education, which would in-turn will guarantee them a happy, well-rounded, successful life, you are delusional.

Lastly, let us be very careful what we classify as abuse and neglect, and be careful of the friends we choose to keep.

What is the answer?

Those of us with a voice lets encourage, educate and equip good parenting, whether it be face to face, through books or virtual relationships.

Lets be involved to help bring healing and meeting needs of the victims like my Russian friend. Move forward with purpose and love, be strong and courageous.

There is adoption and the breaking of cycles. You can’t save them all, but you can save one and you have no idea what that one will do!

Be involved and connected with those around you, it’s called living in community. When people are involved it gives layers of accountability.

I can tell you I am a MUCH better parent with my younger kids than I was with my older ones. I have learned so much by the example and teachings of others and by my own mistakes!  My husband I choose our friends very carefully.


Beautiful Eyes