Thursday, February 22, 2018

Cassandra's Tangy Lemon Vinaigrette

Today for Thrifty Thursday I want to share with you my favorite salad dressing recipe.  I created this vinaigrette a few years ago when I began the THM eating plan.  I wish I could tell you that I was currently completely following this eating plan, but I am just dabbling in it.  Life has been a bit hectic lately so I haven't sat down to figure it all out again.  Anyway, I created my basic lemon vinaigrette a few years ago and have been working on getting it right since then.  I feel like I finally have it where I want it and it is ready to share with you.  Most of the ingredients can be purchased at the regular grocery store.  I tend to buy my spices in bulk from a bulk food store near where I live, but they can be purchased at the regular store too.  There is one "specialty" ingredient and I will provide a link for it and the substitution for it.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, Cassandra's Tangy Lemon Vinaigrette, Thrifty Thursday, easy recipe

Cassandra's Tangy Lemon Vinaigrette
1/4 Cup of Lemon Juice (fresh or bottled)
1 tsp. Fire Cider - if you don't have this or can't find it, you can use Apple Cider Vinegar instead.
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
To Taste:  (I start with a pinch of each first and then add more as needed)
Cayenne Pepper
Ground Turmeric
Salt
Pepper
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
1.  Add lemon juice and olive oil to a small bowl.
2.  Add in Fire Cider.
3.  Add in spices, a pinch of each first and then I add more to taste as needed.
4.  Stir well with a fork to mix everything together.
5.  Taste to check spice level and adjust as needed.
Since I use this dressing a lot, I often double and triple this recipe to make it last for an entire week.  I put my ingredients in a small ball jar and shake it to mix everything well.  Then I store it in the refrigerator until I am ready to use it.  I pull it out of the refrigerator and let it sit about 20 minutes before I need it to warm up the oil.  Just give it a shake before using to make sure everything is still mixed well.

What is your favorite salad dressing?  Do you make your own?  I hope you enjoy my vinaigrette recipe as much as I do.

*This post does contain affiliate links.  This means I make a small amount of commission on each item you purchase from the links.  

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A Review of UltraKey Online Family Subscription from Bytes of Learning

Hunting and pecking on the keyboard is one of my biggest pet peeves especially since I have a Business Education background.  Having this background should make it easy to teach my own kids the proper method of typing, but they have never been interested in me teaching them the proper way to type.  This is why I was excited to receive an UltraKey Online Family Subscription from Bytes of Learning to review.
UltraKey Online Family Edition, typing, keyboarding, success-based learning, media-rich instruction
UltraKey Online Family Subscription begins each student with an introduction to the program with a video that explains what they will learn.  This program is recommended for ages eight and up, but it does say that with practice even students as young as six can use the program.  After viewing the introduction video students are given a typing assessment test that is used to set individualized for each student.  The individual goal of each student is designed to increase their typing speed also known as words per minute (wpm) and accuracy.  Once the assessment is completed and the goals are set, the student can begin working in the Lessons area. The lessons are very thorough and clear.  They use voice instruction and animated instructions to teach the lessons.   Once the student has worked on a lesson, they can practice what they learned in the Skill Check section of the program.   Each skill check can be repeated until the student's personal goals of accuracy and speed are attained.   The skill checks also offer different options for length of passage to check.   After the student passes a skill check, the next lesson is unlocked.  This program also features a typing forum and games for the student to gain extra practice and work on their typing. It evens tracks your student's performance for you.  The company recommends using this program for at least 20 minutes each day.
Little Miss was watching the video on posture here.  This is obviously the before of her posture.
Since we could use this subscription for up to 7 family members, I set up an account for both of my kids.  The accounts were easy to set up since I had a control dashboard to set them up in.  Once I showed my kids what they needed to do to access their account, they were able to log themselves in each day.  My fourth grader was excited to work on this program because she has been wanting to learn to type better.  I told put this program on her list to work on 3 days a week and many weeks she did it 5 days a week.  She watched the introduction video and went through the section on proper posture and couldn't wait to start her first lesson.  She found the lessons to be very easy to understand and worked through them quickly.   The skill checks were harder for her and she had to repeat them several times because she had to hit her goal of both accuracy and speed to pass.  At first this frustrated her because she was able to hit one goal or the other, but after more practice she finally passed on both goals.  She also liked to practice her typing in the forum.  My ninth grader was not as excited to learn to type. He didn't see anything wrong with his “hunt and peck” method which was driving me nuts. He worked on this program 3 days a week and I have been noticing improvements in his typing.   When he took the lessons seriously, he didn't have any problems passing the skill checks.  He even worked hard enough to unlock the games area so that he could play games to test his typing.  
These were my stats and goals at the beginning of the program.
I also got a chance to use this program which I am happy about because I wanted to be able to check it out completely.  I really enjoyed that when you set up the main account for the family, the "Manager" account, it already had an area for me to practice the lessons too.  This way I could see exactly what the kids were seeing and working on for myself.  I also wanted to practice my typing skills as I know I have lost some of them since my days of consistently teaching typing before I had kids.   I was able to work through a few of the lessons and I got high enough scores that I could play the games too.  I must say that the games are pretty fun and I liked the combination of reading, typing, and thinking in the games.  I did fairly well on the assessments and my typing skills weren't as bad as I thought they were, they just need some polishing.
Buddy had fun playing Capitals, Capitols
As a former keyboarding teacher, I was extremely impressed with this program and all it has to offer.  It is very thorough while being very user friendly.  I appreciated how this program would not let you move on until you had passed the skill check which meant that you mastered the lesson.  It might take my kids a few tries, but I would rather have them completely the skill checks the right way.  I also liked being able to set goals for each of my kids and then adjust them as they reached the goals.  I also like that based on the assessments the program would give them goals too.  We all liked how the lessons featured both audio and visual learning to reinforce the concepts.  We also liked that we could turn the audio off if we didn't want it on.  We like that it is a good mix of fun and educational so it doesn't get boring for my kids.  My favorite part of this program from a teacher's perspective are the reports it gives for each student.  I can quickly access them and see what my kids have been working on and their achievements.  It is a great feature of the program.  I appreciate that we can use one program for everyone in our family and we plan to continue using this program to continue building our typing skills.

These are the different reports the program creates for you.  These were from each of my students.
Bytes of Learning offers many different options when it comes to purchasing UltraKey: The UltraKey Online Family Subscription that we received  has multiple purchase options for multiple size families starting at just $29.95 for 3 users, $39.95 for 5 users, and $49.95 for 8 users.  You can learn more about Bytes of Learning on their website or on Facebook.  You can learn more about the UltraKey Online Family Subscription by clicking here.  As always you can read about what the other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought of this product by clicking the banner below.
UltraKey {Bytes of Learning Reviews}

Monday, February 19, 2018

A Review of Wulf the Saxon from Heirloom Audio Productions

Our family loves stories that are full of action and adventure.  These stories are even better if they teach good morals, strong values, and come as an audio drama like the ones from Heirloom Audio Productions.  We recently got a chance to review their ninth audio drama, Wulf the Saxon, and it kept us on the edge of our seat until the very end of it.
Wulf the Saxon, audio drama, audio theatre, audio theater, radio drama, radio theatre, radio theater, audio book, G.A. Henty, Wulf the Saxon, henty alive, heirloom audio, Christian audio drama, Christian radio theatre, focus on the family radio theatre, homeschooling, Christian homeschooling, homeschooling curriculum, Adventures in Odyssey, Lamplighter Theatre, Jonathan Park, The Brinkman Adventures, The Battle of Hastings, William Duke of Normandy, King Harold Godwinson, Edith the Fair, Brian Blessed, Tarzan, Robin Hood, Chris Larkin, Master and Commander, Valkyrie, Helen George, Call the Midwife, Jack Farthing, Poldark, Sian Phillips, I Claudius, Patrick Godfrey, Les Miserables, Ever After
Heirloom Audio Productions is a company that we always look forward to working with.  We know that we can always expect quality audio dramas from them.  These dramas not only capture our attention, but they make us feel like we are right there in the middle of the story with the characters.  As a parent I have come to appreciate this company because they strive to tell the stories of true Christian heroes while teaching strong moral values.  I also love that their priority is bringing real history to life for their listeners.  Their audio dramas are based on the popular book series The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty.  His books are filled with themes of bravery, loyalty, family, and happy endings while featuring moral values like loyalty, courage, honesty, and perseverance.  These are great things for my kids to learn.
Wulf the Saxon is the story of courage, bravery, loyalty, and duty.  While there are many characters in this story, the main character is Wulf.  He is a young thane which means that he is an English-Saxon landholder.  He is also a page for Earl Harold who eventually becomes King Harold in the story.  When we first meet Wulf, he has got himself in a little bit of trouble, but the trouble eventually passes and then the real adventure begins during an important time of conquering lands in England's history.  As Harold and Wulf explore the coast of Normandy, they end up shipwrecked and captured by Count Conrad.  The story seems bleak at this point, but Wulf is able to escape and eventually save the other captives.  It isn't long after that when war breaks out and things become very ugly between Normandy and England.  It is also when we get to hear and learn about loyalty, friendship, evil villains, courage, bravery, and even love.  War changes Wulf, but in a good way and he proves to be a loyal man in many ways.  I want to tell you more, but I also want you to listen to the story for yourself.
We listened to our copy of Wulf the Saxon on a day where we had several appointments which meant some driving time in the truck.  The story quickly captured our attention and held it as we went on our way.  I might have missed a turn once because I was listening to the story instead of looking for my turn.  The sound effects in these audio dramas are so real that Little Miss said she felt like she was on the boat with Wulf and Harold as they sailed to Normandy and she said she had a clear picture in her mind of how bad the storm must have been to make the ship wreck.  I love that about these audio dramas.  They not only tell great stories, they encourage imagination as you get pulled into the story.  Buddy joked that he could be Beorn because he was always hungry too, but in seriousness he liked the part where Beorn and Wulf broke out of captivity and set off for help.  He has been learning survival skills and talked about which skills they might have used to survive.  I really liked the ending of this story and I don't want to give away too much, but it was very sweet and hopeful.  As a parent/teacher, I truly appreciate that these audio dramas give me the opportunity to have discussions with my kids about good morals and values while asking what they would do if they were in the same situations as the characters.  For this story we discussed why it is important to take the time to think before speaking and acting, what it means to be loyal and a good friend, and if you should honor your commitments even if the person tricked you into making them.  There were lots of other topics we could have discussed from this drama too. 
Heirloom Audio Productions
There are several options for purchasing this audio drama which contains over 2 hours of entertainment and education.  You can purchase it as a physical 2 CD set, which is what we received, for just $29.97 plus shipping and handling.  You can also purchase it as a MP3 download for just $19.97.  You can also get access to many bonuses, extras, and a study guide for this audio drama (and others) by joining their Live The Adventure Club.  This is a new way to access all of their bonus material they offer and right now they are offering a free 30 day trial of the club.  They have 2 different payment options depending on if you want physical CD's or digital download versions of the audio dramas.  The Live The Adventure Club is packed full of extras for listeners, teachers, and families and is definitely worth the cost.
Heirloom Audio Adventure Club
We definitely recommend listening to Wulf the Saxon from Heirloom Audio Productions.  You can find out more about this audio drama here.  You can learn more about Heirloom Audio Productions on their websiteFacebookTwitter, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, and Instagram.  Please be sure to check out all that Heirloom Audio Productions has to offer.  I know we will be checking them out to see what other series we can use this year for school.  My friends on the Homeschool Review Crew have also been reviewing this audio drama, so make sure you read their reviews by clicking the banner below.
Wulf the Saxon {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Thrifty Thursday

Today I want to share one of the best tricks I have learned to save money.  My aunt taught me this a long time ago and it is the only way I buy this product anymore....or don't buy this product very often anymore.  You decide....
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, Thrifty Thursday
I go to my local food service store to buy my aluminum foil.  I buy a big box of foil like they would use in food service or restaurants.  I purchased my first big box of foil in 2011.  I just purchased my second box of foil in December of 2017 because I knew I was getting close to running out.  I actually just opened my second box of foil this past weekend on February 10.  I purchased my second box for $25.99.  It took me 7 years to use the first box which means my foil cost me $3.71 a year.  I don't know what the cost of foil is at the grocery store, but I am guessing it is more than $3.71 a year.  This box of foil is great, heavy duty foil.  We use it fairly regularly.  It even goes camping with us to quickly cover food, cover the grill grate, or wrap up ice cream cones filled with s'mores ingredients.  This big box roll is totally worth it for me.  We do the same thing with film wrap and it lasts us for about 5 years.  For me this is the only way I buy foil and film wrap.  I write the date I start using it on the box to see how long it will last.
What do you think?  Are you planning a trip to your local food service store now?  What are some things you save money on by buying in bulk?

This week I am linking up here.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

A Look At Forgiveness

Sometimes it is hard to sit and write a blog.  Sometimes it is because you are busy and your brain is going in tons of directions.  Other times it is hard because you feel like you are supposed to write about hard subjects.  That is me right now.  I know what I should be writing about...God keeps putting it on my heart, I keep reading about it in the books I am reading, and the topic keeps popping up in other areas too.  That is how I know it is what I should be writing about, but the hard part is that writing about my topic means baring my soul which is always scary because you never know people's reactions.  So if you are reading this, I ask you to be kind if you choose to comment.
A Look At Forgiveness, A Glimpse of Normal Blog, Forgiveness
Forgiveness is the topic on my heart right now.  This is a topic that I have really struggled with and one I have wrestled with writing about for many reasons.  Forgiveness is the act of forgiving according to the dictionary which lead me to look up "forgive" so I can explain what is on my heart to you.  Forgive can mean to cease to feel resentment against an offender, to give up the resentment, or to grant relief from payment of according to Merriam-Webster.  I am by no means an expert on forgiveness nor am I a great example of forgiveness.  It is just a topic that I feel like God is really putting on my heart so that I work on forgiving, I become aware of giving and getting forgiveness, and it will lead me to more joy which is what I seek.

Through a couple of books I have read lately and a couple of Bible studies I have been watching with my teen son, I have been reminded of some important things about forgiveness and I have learned some new things about it too.  There are several situations in my life where I have tried and tried to give forgiveness, but the more I learn about it, the more I learn that I have not truly forgiven everyone involved in the situations.  Sometimes it is myself that I haven't forgiven and sometimes it is other people.  I really hate admitting this especially as a Christian because it isn't what we are supposed to do, but I am still human and struggle with areas of my life which is a reminder to me that God isn't done working in and on me and my life.

One of the main things lately that I have learned is that I can't say that I forgive someone and hold the pain, bitterness, and bad feelings against the person that hurt me.  This doesn't mean that I won't still feel hurt in a situation because sometimes we do get hurt and it takes time to let go of the hurt.  It means that when I say I forgive someone I have to make a choice.  I either truly let go of the offense or I choose to hold on to the hurt, disappointment, and bitterness.  If I choose to hold on to all the bad things it isn't doing anything to the one who hurt my feelings.  That disappointment and bitterness doesn't make that person angry or keep them awake at night it only hurts me.  No one can feel my grudge but me.  I can't keep acting hurt or play the victim when I truly forgive, if I do these things then I haven't truly forgiven.  Forgiveness doesn't mean that I won't be more cautious with a person because I don't want to get hurt again, but it does mean that I let go of the situation or the offense and I don't feel resentment towards that person.  This is no easy task that is why I have God to help me. 

I am so happy that I have God to help me with forgiveness because there are times that on my own, I would choose to hold a grudge, its the human in me.  I thought about this and what right do I have to hold a grudge when I have a perfect example of someone who has every right to hold a grudge, yet He chose forgiveness instead.  Think of it, Jesus has every right in the world according to human standards to hold a grudge.  He was sinless, blameless, and didn't deserve to die the horribly cruel death on the cross that He did.  He did nothing to warrant the cross, yet people blamed Him, lied about Him, and attacked Him.  He had every right to disown all people forevermore, but He didn't instead He took a punishment He didn't earn and He showed that He loved us more than we deserve.  He even asked for forgiveness for us before He died on the cross.  Thankfully He rose again 3 days later.  He didn't have to do any of that, but He did.  He followed God's will for Him and He showed what true forgiveness is.  If Jesus can do that, I can let go and forgive too.

There are some situations where you may not be able to ask someone for forgiveness or be able to tell someone that you forgive them maybe due to death or it is not safe to be around that person.  You can still forgive that person in your heart and let go of their offense so that you may heal.  God knows the true intentions of our heart and He can provide healing.  All of that being said, I have been working on giving forgiveness to the situations I have been holding on to.  I have been realizing that I have been the one holding on to the offenses in these situations and I have been praying and covering them with forgiveness and asking forgiveness for holding on to the grudge so that I could play the victim for so long.  God is good and gracious and He is showing me His forgiveness and bringing healing.  I know that the healing will eventually lead to the joy I seek.  God is good all of the time.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

February 2018 Menu Plan

It's that time again...the beginning of the month which means it is time for another menu plan.  This month I am trying to (1) use up some items I have had on hand for a couple of months in my pantry and (2) to keep my grocery budget down.  So you will see quite a few soups (they are almost always a great way to slash the grocery budget), recipes using beans and lentils (thanks to my Instant Pot I don't have to soak these overnight), and recipes that are quick but tasty.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, February 2018 Menu plan, Whats for dinner
 I am trying to get better about planning around our schedule so this month I have planned crock pot (I can use my instant pot for them too) meals for Thursdays.  This is gymnastics night for us which means I have to have dinner going before I head out the door so the guys don't have to starve and I don't have to come home and cook which means dinner won't be done until 8 or later...ugh.  Friday nights are always pizza night at our house so it means I just had decide which pizza recipe to use or try out.  Having a set meal theme at least one night a week makes menu planning quicker.  So here is what is for dinner at our house this month:
  1. Slow Cooker Chicken and Quinoa Chili
  2. Calzones
  3. Lemon Butter Chicken
  4. Slow Cooker Hoppin' John
  5. Chili & Cornbread Skillet
  6. Love that Quinoa Burger
  7. Mexican Zucchini Beef Skillet
  8. Slow Cooker Ham & Beans
  9. Meal Lover's Pizza Cups
  10. Shepherd's Pie
  11. Baked Penne
  12. Chili Cheese Frito Bake
  13. Mulligatawny Soup
  14. Filet Mignon (normally we aren't so fancy, but someone gifted us steak for Christmas)
  15. Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin
  16. Italian Sausage & Pepperoni Stromboli
  17. Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
  18. Pasta e Fagioli Soup
  19. Taco Pizza
  20. Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole
  21. Bacon Pasta
  22. Chicken Fajita Soup
  23. Deep Dish Skillet Pizza
  24. Dinner for 8 - this is a small group dinner for church where everyone brings an assigned dish
  25. Copycat Carrabba's Sausage & Lentil Soup
  26. Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu
  27. Chili
  28. Shrimp Boil Foil Packets
As always you can find the recipes I use for my meal planning on Pinterest, specifically my February Menu Plan board.  You will also find other recipes on there that I have used in past years so if there is something on our menu for this month that you don't like you can find another meal on that board to substitute.  What is for dinner at your house this month?

I am linking up HERE.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A Pole Barn - Part 2

So the other week I shared with you that we were having a pole barn put up.  You can read all about the beginning of it here.  I know that in my original post about our pole barn I said I would be back the very next week to show you the rest, but I got delayed.  I had a very busy week last week and our garage doors did not get installed until late last Thursday.  I wanted to make sure everything that could be done was done before posting about it.

It is a project that was a long time coming and that we are really glad that we saved up for so that we could have it built.  We are still holding off on the concrete for the barn due to weather, but we aren't surprised that we need to wait for this step.  We don't want to rush getting the concrete put in and then have issues with it.  We would rather wait until the ground is the right temperature so the concrete can set right.  It is just really good to have the main part of the pole barn finished.  So here are the pictures of the progress...
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, A Pole Barn - Part 2, Progress
This was what our pole barn looked like when they started adding the siding.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog
Our finished pole barn.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog

Eventually we will be putting a small room for gatherings and the foosball table in this end of the pole barn.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog
We are so excited to have this project finished so that we will have a place out of the weather to park.  We will eventually get insulation in it and put up some drywall to finish it on the inside, but those are projects for down the road.  It has really changed our property (for the better) and we love how it turned out.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Getting Back on Track - January Edition

Last year was a year of "Fresh Starts" for our family.  We moved and because of this we got the opportunity to have a fresh start with many areas of our life.  Now that we have lived here for almost a year and have had a chance to catch our breath, we know that we need to get things organized.  We have declared this a year of "Refocusing" for our family.  It is about making sure we are staying on task to complete the things we would like to get done and seeing them all the way through.  For me this means that I need to get myself back on track, get organized, and get my systems that I use back in place so I can manage our household, homeschooling, and all the extra things we want to do.
Getting Back on Track, A Glimpse of Normal Blog, To-Do List
The place where I know I need to get back on track the most is with my to-do list.  Sure I have about 11 bazillion things I would like to get done, but that is an unrealistic number and there is absolutely no way I get everything I want to, need to, and have to get done finished in just one day.  After all, I am not Super Girl, Super Woman, or Super Organized.  I can't even pretend to be any of these people without falling over from exhaustion, burn out, and being completely overwhelmed.  Since I can't do it all in just one day, I had to come up with a system that worked for me.  I can't take full credit for the system I use to stay on track with my to-do list as a friend taught me a way to manage my to-do list years ago when I was feeling completely overwhelmed by it.

The main system is what I call "Just 5."  Since I started using this system, I don't struggle with feeling overwhelmed by my to-do list anymore.  Every morning when I get up, I make a list.  This list is just 5 tasks.  These 5 tasks are the most important things I have to do each day.  They are the things that if I don't get them done, the day will not end well or I will miss an important deadline.  During the week, one of my five tasks is school.  This is the most important thing we can complete each day during our school year.  Since I am the teacher, it needs to be one of my top priorities so my kids know it is their top priority.  The other 4 tasks on my list usually relate to whatever I need to finish that day.  It could be a blog deadline, household chores, or bills I need to get paid.  After I make this list of 5, I know what my goals are for the day.  These are the first things I need to complete in my day.  I work through these 5 tasks until I get them done.  Once they are all finished, I can add other tasks, but the original 5 need to be done first.

Narrowing down my to-do list helps me focus on the most important things.  There are many days that I will write a second list of every task floating through my head just to clear my brain, but they are not added to my "Just 5" until the first 5 have been completed and I only add 5 more at a time.  I even found a really cool note pad that fits my system.  It has areas for "Do It Now" items, "Do It Later" items, and "Do It Never" items.  I put my "Just 5" in the now blanks, extra tasks for the day in the later blanks, and my someday tasks in the never blanks.  This system helps keep me focused on my tasks and helps me bring order to my home.  If you struggle to get things done each day and get overwhelmed by your to-do list, I recommend trying the "Just 5" system that I use.  It is a place to start until your list becomes manageable.

*Parts of this blog post I originally wrote for a Homeschool Review Crew blog post, but I didn't want my readers who don't read that blog to miss out on what I had to say about my "Just 5" system of tackling my to-do list.  So if you happen across the post I wrote for the Homeschool Review Crew blog and it seems very similar to this one, it is because it is also my writing and what I based this post on.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

A Pole Barn - Part 1

One of the things that our dream house barn was missing when we moved in was a place to park and work on big projects.  Yes, we have a small corn crib on the property, but I wasn't sure I could successfully pull my vehicle in and out of this corn crib and we needed a place to store our mower and other outdoor stuff.  Our old house had a 3 stall garage that had room for all kinds of things and we knew when we moved we had to do something about that.  In fact, we even budgeted for this right from the beginning when we knew everything would go through on this barn and our old house would sell.  We got a pole barn!!!  It has been a long time coming and a lot of decisions for my hubby.  I have been involved in some of the decisions for the pole barn, but have left most of it to my hubby since this will be his work area.  We went back and forth about hubby and friends building it, but eventually due to time constraints we ultimately decided to have it built by an Amish crew.  Thankfully we had budgeted over what we needed so we had the funds to afford this.

This whole process was started last fall.  It involved working with our electric company to move some electric lines, working with an excavator to prepare the area (he will also be coming back out this spring to finish our driveway after concrete trucks have been here), and picking the right crew to do the job.  Just after New Years our pole barn was started.  It has been fun to watch the progress.  It is done now, we are just waiting on the garage doors to be put up and concrete to be poured.  Concrete may or may not get poured soon...it is a weather dependent thing and the weather doesn't cooperate where we live.  So today I am sharing part of the pictures with you and next week I will share the rest.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, A Pole Barn, Part 1, #Ireallyliveinabarn
Our electric company working to switch the electric for the pole barn.
They also replaced an old pole while they were here. 
Pole barn supplies being delivered.  This driver backed this big trailer down our very narrow drive.  You can see the neighbor's property in front of us.  It is believed to be the original farmhouse to our barn we live in.
Here is what the supplies looked like on the day the crew started.  It was frigid, the coldest day we have had so far this year.
This is the site where our pole barn will be placed.
End of work on day 1.

The beginning of day 2.  Excuse the picture of my window screen...it was way too to go out for pictures.
I would never be able to sit up on the beams like that.
This is at the end of day 2.  
This was on day 3.  They worked hard and fast especially since it was so frigid.  Don't worry I kept coffee on for them any time they wanted it.
Come back next week to see the rest of our pole barn pictures and how it turned out in the end.  We are super excited to have a place to park and hubby can start planning out his workshop in the pole barn.  What do you think?   #ireallyliveinabarn

I linked up here.

Friday, January 19, 2018

"The Air I Breathe" - A Review

In today's world there are so many things that we worship - money, work, phones, entertainers, television, and so on.  All of these things in the world take us away from who we were truly created to worship.  They distract us, they confuse us, and they lead us astray.  I was recently reminded of this when I received a copy of "The Air I Breathe" by Loiue Giglio to read and review.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, Blogging for Books, Review, The Air I Breathe, Louie Giglio
"The Air I Breathe: Worship as A Way of Life" by Louie Giglio that I received has 111 pages plus a section of discussion guide questions for use in a small group.  It also includes an excerpt from another book by Louie Giglio.  This Christian book is a quick, but powerful read.   It has eleven chapters that explain why worship is so important and how we can get our worship focused back where it belongs, on God.  The chapters in this book include:
  • That Thing We Do
  • Something More
  • Why Worship Matters
  • What God Wants Most for You
  • Joining the Ranks of True Worshipers
  • For Who He Is, for What He Does
  • Worship as a Way of Life
  • Through Jesus, All the Time
  • Lips and Lives
  • A Personal Path to Worship
  • Moving Beyond Me, to Us
Each chapter discusses an area of worship that we, as Christians, should be aware of and do something about.  The concepts are simple, but in today's world where we are busy, busy, busy, this book serves as a wake up call to make worship an every day part of our lives. 

I read this book as part of my devotional time each day.  It served as both a reminder and a challenge for me.  It was a reminder that I was specifically created to worship God.  This point is brought up time and time again through out the book, not in a bad way, but as a reminder of our purpose of existence.  It reminded me that I get so busy with life sometimes, that I put God in a box I can check off of a to-do list.  This is not what He wants from me at all.  He wants a full relationship that includes intentional worship, intentional praise, and constant devotion instead of a few minutes each morning.  He wants my thoughts to be filled with Him, my actions to be ones that glorify Him, and my life one that reflects Him in every way.  
Louie Giglio gives a definition of what worship is and then goes on to show how we can live out this definition in the rest of the book.  It is a practical application of how we can honor God with our worship with our entire life, not just on Sunday mornings in a pew.  This was a great challenge for me.  I need to do more than just show up at church on Sunday expecting God to be there.  He will be there, but will my heart be ready to worship if I just rushed around getting ready for church and getting the family breakfast and the other 17 things we try and get done before rushing out the door?  The answer is no.  I need to do a better job of worshiping God throughout the week.  I need to be consistent studying His Word throughout the week, praying praise to God for his greatness instead of just praying for needs, seek time alone with God to keep my heart focused on Him throughout the week, and being honoring to God in all things.  This will keep my heart in a place of worship throughout the week so that church will be another place and way that I worship God instead of being the only way I worship God.  

I truly enjoyed reading this book and I would definitely recommend it to other Christians.  It is a great reminder of what we should be doing, but most likely aren't.  I am taking what I learned from this book and using it as a challenge to be mindful and purposeful with my worship.

You can read more about Louie Giglio here and you can  more information on "The Air I Breathe" here.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Remembering Andrea

One year ago today we lost a family member.  I never posted anything about it on this blog because it always felt unreal and we were in the middle of all kinds of craziness with our move.  I knew putting the words to it would be hard so I chose to avoid it instead. 

Andrea is my cousin.  She was almost one year younger than me.  There were always those couple of months each year we were the same age.  She was born with a rare liver disease and was the first child liver transplant in the state we grew up in.  Even though she was sick her whole life, her death came unexpectedly.  I mean we always knew she wouldn't be here on earth forever.  There were many times in her life where she was near death, but she always fought and came back.  So last year on the evening of January 15 when I got a phone call from my aunt telling me Andrea was gone, it just seemed unreal.

I couldn't find the courage to speak at her funeral (public speaking is not my thing), but I had written down a few words to share and my hubby read them for me.  Today I want to share them and a few more with you to honor my cousin who our family misses.  Andrea and I were close while we were kids.  We were frequently together at my MamMaw's house and many times when my uncle had her for the weekend, they would stay with us at our house or I would go and stay with my uncle so we could play together.  She was definitely one of my first best friends and even though we got on each other's nerves more times than we could count, we were cousins and we loved each other.  I remember all the crazy things we did together like the time we fixed PapPaw's hair with barrettes.  He never let us mess with his hair, but one day we finally wore him down and I have no clue how many barrettes we got in his hair that day.  I just remember posing for the picture with him and all the giggles the entire time we were fixing his hair.  I remember the long waits at the top of the stairs on Christmas morning as we waited for my uncle to come over so we could open presents.  We always turned this time into some sort of game that drove my brother nuts.  I remember all of us kids gulping down MamMaw's glass of sweet tea.  We did this so often, she lovingly referred to her glass of tea as the community cup.  Andrea and I just always hoped we got our drinks before my brother who tended to have bigger gulps than we did.  :)  I also remember getting locked out of our house as pre-teens because Andrea was being helpful and shutting the door  as we went out to grab the paper.  What she didn't know was that the door was locked.  My uncle was napping before he went to work and when he slept a bomb could have blown up beside him and he would have slept through it.  Thankfully it was a warm day and he woke up looking for us after about an hour.  After I got done being mad that we were locked out, I am sure we created something to do to pass the time.  We also might have let out the horses at my aunt's farm a time or two by accident.  Playing tag was way more important than checking gates at the time.  There are tons and tons more fun memories that I have of the things we did and got in trouble for over the years.  Andrea was stubborn.  She was this way her whole life.  All of her parents will tell you that and they all laugh about it now.  You could say the sky was blue and she would argue why it wasn't, just to be stubborn.  Even though this sounds like a bad thing, it was probably how she kept going through all the illness, pain, and surgeries she had.  Andrea was also fighter.  Like I said before, there were many times she almost died, but she kept fighting.  Andrea had an adventurous side and very few things scared her.  She rode mini dirtbikes even after she burned her leg on the exhaust.  The most important thing about her was that she loved her family.  There were times we fought like cats and dogs.  There were times we didn't see each other often.  As adults we didn't stay in touch all the time.  But no matter what happened when we saw each other, before we would leave she would hug me and say "I love you Cuz."  She meant it.  No matter what, even if we were driving each other crazy.  And no matter what, over the years I loved her too.  I still love her and miss her as I know all of our other family members do too.  If I learned anything from Andrea it was to love fiercely.  So if I tell you "I love you," I truly mean it and I will always love you no matter what because it is who I am and what I have been taught.  While I miss Andrea here on earth, I know that she is in Heaven because she trusted Jesus Christ as her Savior.  I know that because she is in Heaven, she is healed, she is whole, she is healthy, and she is with my MamMaw and PapPaw who went before her.  I look forward to seeing her again one day in Heaven.  I love you Cuz!

Friday, January 12, 2018

New Year, New Goals

I really wish I would have been more put together and gotten this post up closer to New Year's Day, but life has been a little crazy lately and I am just getting around to typing it up.  This year instead of making resolutions that I just won't keep, I decided to set some goals.  Some of them are pretty lofty, but I think overall they are achievable.  There are a few I need to do a little more planning for, such as how will I measure if I am meeting my goal, but I for right now I just want to get them down on "paper."  They are in no particular order.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, New Year, New Goals
1.  Read 100 books - this is a family goal as I count all the books we read and keep track of them on Goodreads.
2.  Finish 100 crochet projects - I find new patterns all the time...it's an addiction.
3.  Grade school work every day after school - If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen my piles of grading last semester.  I am trying very hard to stay on top of grading since we started up again after Christmas break.
4.  Blog ahead rather than at the last minute.
5.  Grow my blog - I love reaching new people so if you want to share my blog with friends that would be great.
6.  Get back on my eating plan.
7.  Take up running.
8.  Finish 2 cross stitch pieces.
9.  Get back on track with the FlyLady System.
10.  Make school portfolios for each of my kids - This will be samples of their work from each year in school.  I am thinking if I get this done now, then I just have to update it each year when we finish school.

That is it.  These are my goals for this year.  I am also still working on my 40 Before I Turn 40 list as well so I didn't want to go too crazy with the goals.  Did you make any resolutions or set any goals for this year?

This week I am linking up here.

Monday, January 8, 2018

A Review of the Yearly Membership from SchoolhouseTeachers.com for 2018

As a homeschool family we are always on the lookout for resources that work for both of our children.  Sometimes it is hard to find one place that offers materials for both of the grades we teach since I have an elementary student and a high school student.  Many websites tend to have more material for one grade over the other.  This is not the case for the Yearly Membership from SchoolhouseTeachers.com which we received to review.  This is a site that is full of courses, encouragement, resources, and more that we truly love in our family.
High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {SchoolhouseTeachers.com}
Let me tell you why this is one of go-to sites for homeschooling.  It is packed full of courses, ideas, activities, help, and even videos for EVERYONE in your homeschooling family.  This site is useful for parents, students, teachers, and the entire family.  There are so many good things on this site that it can be a little overwhelming, but as you start exploring you will find things that your family can really use.  Their "New Members Hub" is fantastic and it really explains how to use this website effectively.  It took me through what I would find on their site, how to use what I found, and areas I would find of interest among other things.  Even though I have used this site for a few years now, I still find myself wandering into the "New Members Hub" occasionally to find out what is new and to explore areas of the site I have not explored yet.  
High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {SchoolhouseTeachers.com}
We are not new to SchoolhouseTeachers.com since this is our third year on the Homeschool Review Crew, but I find new things to use on this website all the time.  I love their selection of  courses offered.  I am always blown away by the amount and variety of the courses offered.  One of my favorite new resources on the site is the World Book area.  SchoolhouseTeachers.com gives you access to ten of World Book's libraries and they cover a very large range of subjects and grades.  I have found subjects and activities in the World Book area for both of my students and they learn while having fun in this part of the site.  Both of them have asked to use this area again every time we use it for school.  I love that I have access to so many articles and activities from World Book for my students to use.  It is like doing research at the library without ever having to leave our home.  

We currently use their Schoolhouse Spelling for my high school student.  Buddy does the Topic Based Spelling.  Recently we started their Bible studies for Little Miss.  She is working in the Preteen Studies because they have Bible lessons specifically about women from the Bible - Ruth, Hannah, and Esther among others.  She has really enjoyed learning about the women of the Bible and studying how they are  examples for us.  I have also recently used SchoolhouseTeachers.com for Literature for Buddy.  I substituted a book for him instead of what his curriculum wanted him to read.  When I was trying to find resources for the book I picked, I checked the site and sure enough there was a complete lesson plan for the book he was going to read.  I love it when I find quality resources for what we are studying and that is exactly what I find every time I turn to this site.
High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {SchoolhouseTeachers.com}
There are many other perks of the Yearly Membership at SchoolhouseTeachers.com.  They have many resources for members that include planners, resources for teaching, current and back issues of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, monthly menus and the list goes on.  I personally love the High School Help Focused Learning Center.  I want to make sure I get my son's transcript right and include all the right things and this Focused Learning Center area is really helping me.  It also has a Career exploration area for Buddy to work through, printouts I need to help with high school tracking and planning, and other guidance you need for helping your student through high school.  The site also has a media library that is AWESOME!!!  It includes one of our favorites, Drive Thru History, and we couldn't be more excited that we have access to these videos.  There are also other videos on there for everyone from Bible studies to marriage videos to art to science and more.  
Schoolhouse Teachers 2018 Fresh Start New Years Speical
We have found that the Yearly Membership from SchoolhouseTeachers.com is invaluable to our family.  It fills in gaps, gives us curriculum, provides encouragement, and so much more.  This is definitely a membership that is worth every penny you pay for it in my opinion.  I am constantly finding more and more useful tools, classes, and resources on this site.  Please go and check it out for yourself and see if it meets your families needs.  You can find SchoolhouseTeachers.com on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Google+.  You can also check out what my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew think of this website by clicking the banner below.
Homeschool Curriculum for Everybody - {SchoolhouseTeachers.com Reviews}
*Please note affiliate links are included in this post.  This means if you use my links I will earn a commission if you decide to purchase anything.