Friday, November 17, 2017

Christmas Tree Poll

This year will be our first Christmas in our new house.  I have a huge dilemma.  I am trying to figure out where to put our Christmas tree.  I know where the people who lived her before us put their tree up at as we were looking at the house around Christmas last year and I am not telling you where they did so I don't influence your vote.  I am having issues deciding where to put it because our furniture is different and no matter where we set it up, we will have to move the furniture around.  I should also tell you that I haven't decided if we will have a real tree or an artificial tree yet.  I am personally leaning towards artificial because with the wood burner going our house is a little dry and I don't want to dry out a real tree long before Christmas.  There are so many options.  So today I am asking for your opinion.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, Christmas Tree Poll
We put the tree up the day after Thanksgiving and that day is approaching fast!!!  Please vote on where I should put my Christmas tree up at this year.   Option A, B, or C.
Option A:  We would move this chair and put the tree here.  It would be beside the couch.

Option B:  We put the tree in the crook of the stairs.  There is more room than the picture shows between the crook and the couch.

Option C:  We move the computer desk and tuck the tree in the back corner of the living room.

Where should we set up our Christmas tree this year?

Thanks for you help in voting.  I will let you know where we decided to put it up at and what kind of tree we got in the next couple of weeks.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Review of Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis from Writing with Sharon Watson

Literature is one of the subjects that is dreaded by my high school student. He knows he has to take it, but he doesn't look forward to reading or discussing books.  This is why I was intrigued to receive Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis from Writing with Sharon Watson to review with Buddy recently.  I wanted to see what this literature program was all about and if it would work for him.
Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis, Sharon Watson, Writing with Sharon Watson, The Power in Your Hands, composition, high school writing, homeschool writing program
Sharon Watson understands that reading and writing isn't every student's first love.  This is why she creates the programs that she does.  She wants to help students learn to love literature and become a better writers.  Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis was created as a year long high school literature class and it is worth 1 high school credit if your student completes it.  This course does not have a specific grade associated with it, rather it is just suggested for high school use.  It was created to help students become familiar with the terms and devices used in literature while they gain an appreciation for fine literature.  It is also designed to develop better readers and to increase their writing skills.  It features 38 lessons, a suggested weekly schedule, and focuses on reading complete novels or short stories.  This course has your student read:
  • "A Jury of Her Peers'" by Susan Glaspell
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Silas Marner by George Eliot
  • Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
  • "A White Heron" by Sarah Orne Jewett
  • "The Garden of Forking Paths'" by Jorge Luis Borges
  • "Haircut" by Ring Lardner
  • "The Lady or the Tiger?" by Frank Stockton
  • "Of the Passing of the First Born" by W. E. B. DuBois
  • "A Child's Christmas in Wales" by Dylan Thomas
  • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  • Biography or Autobiography of student's choice
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien
The Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis set that we received included the Textbook, Teacher's Guide, and the Quiz and Answer Manual.  We were also able to download the Novel Notebook from the website for free and print it off.  When this arrived, I read through the teacher's guide to see what we needed to do.  I really like that this course is designed so that Buddy can work through it all on his own and I only need to provide guidance and discuss questions with him.  I read through the first chapter of the student textbook so I could see what he would be working on and everything is very detailed and clearly explained.  I knew that I could let him loose on it and he would be able to work away.  It starts off with explaining the philosophy of the course and why the student should read literature.  It then goes on to explain the different kinds of characters that are found in books.  The textbook then gives the student a chance to use their favorite movie or book to explore the characters and see what kind of characters they are.  The textbook clearly presents concepts and then builds on them.

Suggested schedule for the short story.
Chapter 1 of the textbook is where Buddy really started digging into literature work.  This is where he learned he would be reading the short story "A Jury of Her Peers'."  Before he read this short story, the textbook had him exploring empathetic characters and the context of the story in-depth.  There were several things the textbook taught him to watch for and think about while he read so that he would understand the short story better.  After he read the short story, there were several questions and activities for him to complete.  These things taught him more literary terms and devices.  There were also a couple of quizzes for him to complete.  I could have had Buddy use the Quiz and Answer Manual, but the textbook also gives the option to take these quizzes online.  The thing I liked about him taking the quiz online was that it was automatically graded for me and sent me an email of how he did on the quiz.  He did well on the "Yes I read it" quiz, but not so well on the "Literary Terms Quiz" so I had him re-take the second quiz and then averaged the scores for that one.  Then there were questions about the short story he had read.  I had him write out his answers and then we picked a few to discuss.  The final activity I had him do for this story was to write a song based on the short story.  At first Buddy was not excited about this option, but when I told him he could be as creative as he wanted to, he didn't complain.  He also created a pretty good song.  The other part he liked was the Novel Notebook.  This helped him keep track of important thoughts while he read.  He also said the questions that were in the notebook about the story helped him know which parts were really important.  It was a good tool for him to use while he was reading.  I liked the Novel Notebook because I could look through it and quickly see what he should focus on for each book.
Buddy isn't a huge literature fan, but in this case he thought there could have been more details.
The second chapter of the textbook begins the work for the book Frankenstein.  I had Buddy begin this chapter while I did some research on this book.  I have never personally read or watched Frankenstein so I had no clue what it was about.  After I did some research on this book, I decided that as a freshman, Buddy is just not quite ready to read it yet.  It has some pretty in-depth and mature topics for this book.  I do appreciate that Sharon Watson uses it and why she uses it.  She picked it for the themes in the book, but there are a few ethical dilemmas in this book that I personally feel are best for older high school students.  I substituted a different book and we will pick up again with the next chapter and the next book which is Silas Marner.
Buddy liked the creative activities.
Themes of Frankenstein in the Teacher's Manual
 Overall, I feel like Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis is a good fit for us.  I like the way literature is broken down into understandable pieces.  I like that she tackles one part of literature at a time and digs into it so that students can understand it.  Buddy and I both liked that he could work through this course at his pace and we can easily adjust the weekly schedule it we need to.  Buddy is not a huge fan of literature or reading, but he did say that this course was easy for him to understand and he liked that he could be creative with the projects at the end of the chapters.  He liked that it encouraged him to tell the stories in different ways and think about how the story would be different if you changed bits and pieces.  Even though I didn't have Buddy read Frankenstein, I am using the work in the textbook as a guide to the book he is reading instead.  I feel like you can alter this course if needed.  We will continue working through this course for the rest of the school year.
I liked the graded online quizzes (I had Buddy use my name instead of his).
If you have a high school student and need a literature course, we do recommend you check out Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis and see if it is a good fit for your student.  You can learn more about the course we received by clicking here.  You can learn more about Writing with Sharon Watson from her website, Facebook, and Pinterest.  You can also check out what my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew have been using this course by clicking the banner below.
Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis {Writing with Sharon Watson Reviews}

Friday, November 10, 2017

Fall Around the Barn

It is finally feeling like fall around our house.  The leaves are falling, the weather is crisp, and our wood burning stove is keeping our house warm.  I LOVE it.  I took some pictures the other week to show you some of the my favorite fall views around our barn.  I hope you enjoy them!
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, Fall Around the Barn, Fall, Barn, Pictures

A Glimpse of Normal Blog

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A Glimpse of Normal Blog

A Glimpse of Normal Blog

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A Glimpse of Normal Blog

A Glimpse of Normal Blog

A Glimpse of Normal Blog

A Glimpse of Normal Blog
What are your favorite things about fall?  Also come back next week as I will be doing a giveaway because my Blog Facebook page finally got up to 100 likes.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Review of Thinking Like an Engineer from Innovators Tribe

Since Buddy has entered his high school years this year, I feel it is important to do some career exploration.  I want him to get an idea of the types of jobs and career path he might take after high school.  This is why I was excited to receive Thinking Like an Engineer from Innovators Tribe to review with him lately.
Thinking Like an Engineer, Engineering, STEM, Architect, Hands On
Innovators Tribe is a company that was completely new to us before this review.  I really like their mission and what they want to do for students.  Innovators Tribe has developed courses for students in 6th -12th grade.  These courses intentionally develop your student's innovation, creativity, and discovery.  These online courses are not just about sitting down and reading material, they are hands-on, exciting, and will challenge your student to think in new ways.  This company wants to build your student's problem solving skills and help them become innovators.  They currently offer 2 courses with a 3rd course coming out soon.  The current classes are Thinking Like an Engineer and Thinking Like an Architect.  The course that is coming soon is Thinking Like a Carpenter

We received the Thinking Like an Engineer course to review.  This online course is designed to help students learn all about the career of being an engineer including what engineers do, the different types of engineers, some of the science and math used in this career, the advancements in engineering that have been made through out the years, and how to start thinking like an engineer.  There is approximately 30 hours worth of self-paced interactive lessons hands-on activities, and design challenges.  The 3D CAD software you need for this course is included in the course fee of $149 per year.  You can count this course either towards 1/4 of an elective credit or you can count it as a component of science courses for your student and if you have more than one student at home you can use this for multiple students at the same time.  Innovators Tribe generously gave us a 2 year subscription to check out this program.
There are 6 units included in this course.  They include:
  • Introduction to Engineering
  • Introduction to 3D Design (tools of modern design)
  • Engineering Rollercoasters!
  • Engineering Bridges
  • Nano Engineering (Discovery of a New World)
  • Thinking Like an Engineer - Course Conclusion
Each unit is broken down into smaller lessons that include a video on a specific topic and challenge activities.  Some of these activities are completed online and some are offline and hands-on.  The hands-on activities are completed with materials you probably already have around like printer paper, books, and tape.  There is a unit journal that you can download for each unit to fill out as you watch the lessons.  There are even some research projects where you student researches the different types of engineers and learns more about their job. 

This course required very little of me other than setting it up for Buddy.  Other than that, Mr. Kroeplin taught the classes and for that I am very thankful because I do not know much about being an engineer.  After the initial setup of our account, Buddy took over.  He would work on this program at least 3 days a week and sometimes more.  He would watch the video, if the lesson had one, and then he would usually start working on the challenges in the same day.  He liked to work on these while it was fresh in his mind.  He did really cool projects like designing a piece of furniture in the 3D CAD software, building a tower that was as close to 5 foot as you could get it  out of 4 sheets of printer paper, making a book tower that didn't crush its paper base, and more.  This is one program that he didn't complain about me adding to his schoolwork.  He looked forward to working on it and often times kicked me off the computer so he could log into his course.  He is almost halfway done with this course so far and is looking forward to completing it so I can add it to his transcript.
Buddy's tower didn't get up to 5 foot but he did a good job building and then rebuilding to get it taller after he figured out where he went wrong.
I asked Buddy to tell me his thoughts on this program and this is what he came up with.  He liked this program because it let you use your hands.  It gives you background info on what you are building, who is building it, and what it takes to build one.  It teaches you about what engineers do and how much they make.  If teaches you to think like an engineer.  It teaches you some of the physics behind what you build.  It teaches you about energy and math.  His only complaint about this course was that he was not a huge fan of the paper modeling because it was very intricate and detailed and since he has larger hands he had a hard time getting accurate folds.  I will tell you that he stuck with that challenge until he got it right though which I really appreciated him doing.  I liked this course because it taught him a subject that I really don't know about.  I also like it because it gives him a chance to explore this field and see if it is something he would like to look into more.  I feel like the course has been very well-rounded and kept his attention well.  It is a great mix of online learning and hands-on learning.  I really like that he is getting a chance to learn and build in design software.

We definitely recommend checking out Thinking Like an Engineer if you want to do some career exploration, learn how things are built, and get design software experience.  We also recommend checking out the other courses that Innovators Tribe offers.  I know we will be looking into them to get extra career exploration for Buddy.  As always you can check out the courses my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew got to explore by clicking on the banner below.
Thinking Like an Architect or Engineer {Innovators Tribe Reviews}

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Celebrating

Today my amazing handsome hubby and I are celebrating 19 years of being married.  We've had our share of ups and downs, highs and lows, and disagreements, but through it all we have been determined to fulfill our wedding vows.  We take that whole "honoring God and each other until death do us part" thing very seriously.  No matter what has happened, we don't give up.  That whole not giving up thing has made us stronger, brought us closer, and helped us love each other deeper.  We have been truly blessed by God.  We have 2 beautiful, amazing children, our dream house, awesome friends, family who we love to the ends of the earth and back, and even though we might be crazy, ridiculous busy, we love this life we have built together.  We are best friends, partners, and helpmates to each other.  We work on our marriage every, single day.  We learn new things about each other all the time, even after 19 years.  I wouldn't trade any moment of our time together for anything in the world.  My hubby is AMAZING, he keeps me sane, and there is nothing I wouldn't do for him.  I love him with my whole being and feel blessed every day that God picked him for me.

A Glimpse of Normal Blog

Monday, November 6, 2017

A Review of Thin Stix Creativity Pack from The Pencil Grip, Inc. and a GIVEAWAY

Painting is a favorite hobby in our house.  Unfortunately, cleaning up messes is not a favorite hobby of mine.  This is why we are huge fans of Thin Stix and we were so excited to receive their new Thin Stix Creativity Pack from The Pencil Grip, Inc. to review recently.  This is a company that we have been lucky enough to work with before and we couldn't wait to see what this review product would include.
Thin Stix Creativity Pack, Kwik Stix, tempera paint, no mess kids art, kids art supplies Thinstix, creativity
Thin Stix are Solid Tempura Paint sticks that come in many colors.  We received a 24 pack of Thin Stix which includes 12 assorted, 6 neon, and 6 Metallix colors.  There is such a variety of colors in this pack that we had colors for every project we wanted to work on.  They are about the size of a thick marker which is an easy size for little hands to hold.  They are easy to open and easy to use.  You just pull off the cap, twist the paint up a little, and paint.  They feature a fast drying formula that allows them to dry in just 90 seconds with a paint-like finish.  You can use them on paper, poster board, cardboard, wood, and canvas.  You can even layer the colors on top of each other with our creating a mess because they dry so quickly.  One of our favorite things about these Thin Stix is that you can get them into the little places, nooks, and crannies of projects.  
Little Miss made me this drawing the day our Thin Stix arrived.  She loved the neons on paper.
 
Thin Stix on a wood sign.  Little Miss decorated this sign using only the Thin Stix.
Little Miss had no clue that these were coming in the mail for us to use, but as soon as she opened the package, she couldn't believe what she was holding.  She was very excited to get her hands on them and ran to grab some paper to try them out.  She was super excited to finally have the Thin Stix in ALL the colors she wanted.  She has all the colors of the regular Kwik Stix, but she didn't have her favorite neon and Metallix colors in Thin Stix yet.  Let me tell you she did the happy dance to have these new colors.  She was anxious to start drawing fine lines and write with her favorite colors of these paint markers.

My pumpkin has been on my porch in the weather and the paint is as bright as the day I painted it.
I tried out the Thin Stix on my pumpkin this year.  I wanted to do something to my pumpkin that would decorate it and make it last longer than normal.  The Thin Stix glided on and dried on my pumpkin just as well as they do on paper.  I was blown away by this because I thought they would go on the pumpkin, but I wasn't sure they would dry and stay on.  The Thin Stix didn''t let me down though and have stayed on my pumpkin perfectly even in wet conditions.  I also tried them on some wood ornaments.  Little Miss drew on cardstock, regular printer paper,and a wood sign.  No matter what we try them on, the Thin Stix go on super smooth and dry quickly.  This let us layer colors for our projects when we wanted to.  Like before, Little Miss loved that she could write words and have them be legible with the Thin Stix and draw thin lines.  She could use the Thin Stix flat to get a wide line or use them tipped to the side to make a finer line.  She loved being able to do fine work with the Thin Stix and get in the little nooks of the projects.  Little Miss love the Thin Stix and she is so beyond happy that her much loved neon colors are now thin.  I loved the Metallix colors along with the primary colors.  We  both really loved the variety of colors in the Thin Stix Creativity Pack.  As always we love that you can use this paint on so many different mediums.  My VERY favorite part of the Thin Stix is the no mess painting.  We put the cap back on and they are ready to put away.

I used only Thin Stix Metallix on this wood ornament. 
I layered neon blue and silver Metallix for this ornament.
We layered several colors for this Christmas tree wood ornament.
We DEFINITELY recommend the Thin Stix Creativity Pack from The Pencil Grip, Inc.  They are recommended for ages 3 and up.  They would be great to give as a gift.  The Pencil Grip, Inc. also has several other products they offer.  You can find out more about all they have to offer on their websiteFacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.  You can buy Thin Stix Creativity Pack we received from .BJ's Wholesale Club for a discounted price.

Now for the really good news!!!  The Pencil Grip, Inc. has graciously offered to provide a Thin Stix Creativity Pack to one lucky reader of this post (U.S. Residents only please).  Enter using the Giveaway Tools widget below.  This giveaway runs from now through Friday, November 10, 2017 at 11:59 pm EST.  Good Luck!!!!
As always you can find out how my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew have been using their Thin Stix by clicking the banner below.
Thin Stix Creativity Pack {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

November 2017 Menu Plan

I wish I could tell you that I am fully prepared for November to be here, but let's face it, I am not.  The days seem to be flying by and now they are getting shorter too.  Can time just stop for a moment so I can catch up?  Surely I am not the only one who feels this way right?  October was a blink and I actually goofed up my menu plan.  I planned a week of soups because Buddy was having orthodontic work done, but I was in the wrong month.  The big work is being done this month in November.  I don't know where my brain went for that one.  So you will see a couple of weeks of soft food this month and that is why.  We are also trying to use up a lot of the stuff in our freezers and pantry so you will see a lot of the meals include staples that we keep on hand all the time.  Now without any further ado, here is what is for dinner this month:
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, November 2017 Menu Plan
  1. Smoked Sausage Hot Dogs
  2. Stuffed Pepper Soup
  3. Fooled Ya Pizza 
  4. Sausage with Sage Butter Pasta
  5. Slow Cooker Red Beans & Sausage
  6. Soup & Salad Bar (Family is coming into town so I will make a variety of each to feed everyone)
  7. Lemon Butter Chicken
  8. Beef Stroganoff
  9. Burrito Bowls
  10. Cast Iron Pizza
  11. One Plan Italian Sausage and Veggies
  12. Chili & Cornbread Skillet
  13. Kale Pasta 
  14. Quinoa Chili
  15. Jambalaya
  16. Taco Soup
  17. Italian Sausage and Pepperoni Stromboli
  18. One Pot Chili Mac & Cheese
  19. Creamy Broccoli, Chicken, & Bacon Pasta
  20. Skillet Lasagna
  21. Beef & Bean Smothered Burritos
  22. Seriously Delicious Taco Salad
  23. Thanksgiving Dinner
  24. Stuffed Pizza Bread
  25. Easy Oven Fajitas
  26. Ravioli Lasagna
  27. Easy Sheet Pan Philly Cheesesteaks
  28. Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
  29. Mini Reuben Patty Melts
  30. Chipotle Lime Salmon
As always you can find the recipes for this menu on my November Menu Plan board on Pitnerest.  What is for dinner at your house?  Also you will see that I just listed Thanksgiving dinner.  That is because I have no clue what we will have that day yet.  The people that live in my house (including me) are not turkey fans and ham is just okay.  So I usually try and plan out something different, but my step-dad is a traditional Thanksgiving meal kind of guy and he usually isn't too happy with us for not having a traditional meal.  What do you do for this meal at your house?  I need some ideas.

This week I am linking this post up with my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew.  Please go and check out there blogs too.
Building Character Round Up {and Weekly Homeschool Link UP}