Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before Public School:

IMG_1657I just picked up the kiddos from their last day of school before Christmas. We have a few fun days planned over the next couple weeks and they are happy to sleep in and binge Netflix on the other days. Before the vacation mode gets underway, though, I wanted to take a moment to express some thoughts one semester into the public school experience.
Like a lot of people who have only had experience in Private/Christian and Homeschool education, I was somewhat apprehensive to place our oldest two in the local public school system. I had heard the horror stories from every Christian education proponent and homeschool queen bee and was concerned about entrusting my two treasures to a place where the end result of their character couldn’t be assured. Turns out, I was worrying based on fallible information. My fears surely would’ve been relieved if someone had pulled me aside and told me the following:

  1. Your kids will have loving, highly-qualified teachers.
  2. Your kids will meet and make friends of all races, economic statuses, and beliefs.
  3. The school leadership will welcome your input and act on it to make things better.
  4. The public school actually isn’t inherently evil, substandard, or inferior to other forms of education. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Teachers are at the cutting edge of education and technology, and curriculum is progressing constantly to be sure that kids learn how to survive in a rapidly changing world.
  5. Your kids will be offered extra-circulars like learning Spanish, learning music, etc. as young as five years old.
  6. Your kids will enjoy world-class facilities that provide the highest versions of safety and technology.
  7. Your kids’ teachers will take a personal interest in your kids and develop a plan to help them succeed in areas where they are found lacking.

We have Christian schools in our area, but they either have low academic standards, facilities in ruin, or just a lack of ability to offer the well-rounded education that the public system can. Now that I have learned these things for myself, I wanted to pass them along to the parents who haven’t reached this place in their journey yet. I am aware that not all schools are the same and that we landed in a good situation, but let me encourage you to live from faith instead of fear and to do what is best for your kids regardless of outside pressure. We are especially grateful to God this Christmas for Central Elementary, the faculty, the PTA, and all the Panther Cub community.


Skillet S’mores


Some have been asking about this simple recipe, so I thought I would throw it up here.

You need:

Enough walnuts (or your favorite nut) to cover the bottom of the skillet.

Enough butter to cover the nuts when heated

Chocolate chips


Graham crackers



On your stovetop, heat butter in a cast iron skillet. Place nuts in the skillet and toss in the butter. Let heat. Once you start to smell the nuts cooking, add chocolate chips and marshmallows. Move to oven under the broiler for 40 seconds or until marshmallows are golden brown.

Ten Years Ago, Today

Us at Coke MuseumAfter Christmas, 2003, I sat in the office in my parents’ home and listened, receiver pressed to my ear, as the phone rang on the other end. I was nervous to say the least. This girl had never seen or heard of me. I was calling her out of the blue on the day after christmas because a mutual friend said I should. This is STUPID, I am hanging up…”Hello? Oh, hi…my name is Josh….”

We would date, long-distance, for 1½ years before we were married in June 2005. I am not sure where I would be today without her. If I had hung up, what would, or wouldn’t have happened? That girl and I would talk every single day since that night…including this morning at breakfast as she tried to corral our four littles.

The lesson is this: If you are apprehensive about a decision, relational or not, be willing to risk rejection and hurt. Sometimes one phone call can change your life forever! It did for me. I love you, Amy.

Us Vacation Va Beach - Version 2

Forget The Recipes!

I heard a famous chef recently say, “Forget the recipes! Nobody can learn hundreds of recipes. Learn a few techniques and master them; that is what makes a great chef.” With that in mind, I wanted to share a grilling technique. Tonight I made Buffalo Chicken Legs, but the recipe is not important, the technique is for Bone-In Chicken. Learn that and you can make Buffalo, BBQ, or any other kind of bone-in chicken your heart desires.

The Technique:

IMG_5210Nothing is worse than floppy skin on chicken. So, I use direct high heat to sear the chicken on all sides, about 90 seconds per side.

IMG_5211After the chicken is seared on all sides, I move it to the indirect side of the grill (no charcoal directly under the meat) and let it cook for 25-30 minutes with the lid on (LEAVE THE LID ON). If you’re lookin’ you’re not cookin’!

IMG_5212After 25-30 minutes over indirect heat, you end up with this. You can sauce at this point or just serve it as is.

I will, from time to time share other techniques that I have picked up along the way. But for now, chicken is cheap, go try this one out and tell me how it works out for you. Can’t wait to see your work!



IMG_1305 (1)

I have long been told that you cannot really claim the title “Pit-Master” until you have mastered the beef brisket. Well, I think I finally have. I bought a Large Big Green Egg about three months ago, and everything I have cooked on it has turned out beautifully! The brisket was no exception. I didn’t come up with the method. I found it online and had lots of help from a friend, but now that I know what to do, I think I may experiment some in the future…

These are the basic Steps that I followed:

Setup Egg for indirect. I like to use a rectangular drip pan ($3 at Food Lion) and put foil out to keep direct heat off of the egg.

1)  Rub – Used Dizzy Pig Cow Lick this time. Sprayed with some canola oil to keep from falling off. I let it set in the fridge overnight.

2)  Cook to 165-175F at 230F with 2 medium sized cherry wood chunks.

3)  Double wrap in foil and add 2oz beef stock.

3)  Cook to 195F.

4)  Wrap in towels and put in cooler.

5)  Leave for at least one hour.

6)  Savor your effort.

7)  Slice against the grain!

8)  Enjoy…

I hope you will try the brisket, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. Until next time,

JS – PitMaster