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.

Friday, January 5, 2018

One Word for 2018

Last year my one word that I really felt like God wanted me to focus on was FAITH.  I was blown away by focusing on this one word, how it showed up repeatedly from my faith to God's faithfulness to stepping out in faith and more.  It was a blessing to be constantly watching for how this word would play out in my life.  So this year I have a new word to focus on for 2018.  God laid this word on my heart back in November and it has slowly been rolling around my brain and making itself evident to me until it became very clear it was the word God wanted me to focus on in 2018.
One Word for 2018, A Glimpse of Normal Blog

The word that God has laid on my heart for 2018 is JOY.  I have been working on my overall health for the past few months and through that process God has been stripping away layers of grief and sorrow.  He has repeatedly showed me over the past few months that He wants JOY for me.  He doesn't want me focused on the negative, the hurtful, the sorrow, the grief, and all the other painful emotions.  He wants me to look for joy, seek joy, experience joy, live full of joy, and praise Him for that joy.  
Once I realized what my word for 2018 would be, my faith journey from 2017 made even more sense.  I have dealt with a lot of grief, sorrow, and emotional pain over the past few years.  A lot of this has come from family members and very close friends dying,  people being lead in other directions job wise, and emotional pain from being stuck and not moving forward when I should have.  All of this plus some other things are what I have let rob me of my joy over the course of the years.  There were moments I would feel joyful, but overall I was completely overwhelmed with negative emotions.  So it comes as no surprise to me that it is time to feel joy again, seek joy, and be joyful.  I am looking forward to all the ways JOY will show up for me this year now that I am focused on finding my joy.  The other day I was chatting with my sister-in-law and she very excitedly told me she couldn't wait to see what my word for this year would be.  So I shared the word on my heart with her and she said, "Oh my goodness, wait here!"  She ran out of the room and came back and handed me this sign as a reminder.  It is precious to me because I know that it is absolutely true....
So for 2018 I choose JOY!!!!

What is your word this year?  I would love to cheer you on and check in with you on your word for the year.  Leave me a comment below on your word choice for the year.  I am linking up at the Homeschool Review Crew blog this week.

Monday, January 1, 2018

January 2018 Menu Plan

Happy New Year!!!  We are really looking forward to all that 2018 holds for us.  It has been a very busy Christmas break for us and in some ways I am looking forward to returning to our normal school routine next week.  In other ways, I would love another week off.  The time between Christmas and New Years has flown by for us because we have been so busy and I am looking forward to a slower January.  The first thing I know I need to do this month is get up my menu plan.  If there is a recipe, you can find it on my January Menu Plan board on Pinterest.
January 2018 Menu Plan, A Glimpse of Normal Blog, What's for Dinner

  1. Cheeseburger Soup
  2. Meatball Parmesan
  3. Tacos
  4. Copycat Wendy's Chili
  5. Fooled Ya Pizza
  6. White Bean Soup
  7. BBQ Chicken Cobb Salad
  8. Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers
  9. Buffalo Chicken Bowls
  10. BLT Wraps
  11. Slow Cooker Chicken & Quinoa Chili
  12. Sausage, Peppers, & Onion Hoagies
  13. Lentil Quinoa Broth Bowls
  14. Cajun Dirty Rice
  15. Jambalaya
  16. Poor Man's Beef & Broccoli
  17. Mediterranean Meatball Gyros
  18. Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken
  19. Chicken Fajita Pizza
  20. Beef, Tomato, & Acini di Pepe Soup
  21. Slow Cooker Carnitas
  22. Beef Stroganoff
  23. Skinny Turkey Ranch Wrap
  24. Stuffed Pepper Soup
  25. One Pan Mexican Quinoa
  26. Pizza Soup
  27. One Sheet Cilantro Parmesan Baked Salmon
  28. Vegetable Beef Soup
  29. Instant Pot Sausage & Peppers
  30. White Chicken Chili
  31. Jambalaya Foil Packets

What is for dinner at your house this month?  Don't let menu planning overwhelm you, take it a week at a time if you need to.  This post will be here when you are ready for the next week.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Thanks for 2017!!!

As we celebrate 2017 for just a few more hours here, I wanted to pop in and tell you all something very important...
Thank you, 2017, A Glimpse of Normal Blog
Thank you for supporting my blog.  Thank you for being a reader of my thoughts, reviews, recipes, crafts, and house projects.  Thank you for commenting, encouraging me, and for coming back again and again to see what I had to say.  Thank you for taking time out of your busy life to read about the Glimpse of Normal we have here.  I sincerely appreciate each and every reader of this blog.  You guys have helped me grow, helped my blog grow, and seen us through quite the adventure this year.  I hope to grow my blog even more in 2018 and I am not sure where it will lead, but you will find me right here telling you all about it.  Thank you for supporting me, my family, and our crazy ideas.  May you be blessed the last few hours of 2017 and blessed beyond belief in 2018.

Hugs,
Cassandra and family

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

2017 Faith Wrap-Up

2017 has been an amazing year!  It has been a year filled with God's goodness and grace for us.  We felt like He called our family to step out in faith and we responded by doing just that or at least trying out best to.  Faith was my word of the year for 2017 and we have seen God step in so many times this year.

Our first step of faith started a couple of years ago as we felt led to pray "God move us."  We didn't know exactly what that meant, whether it was a physical move, spiritual move, or something totally different, but that is exactly what God placed on our hearts.  So we started praying that way and knew that by being obedient God would lead us.  He did just that when we began the process of moving in December of 2016.  I found our dream house barn and God flung open the doors for us to move.  When I say that God flung open the doors, I mean that He made some impossible things happen and showed us time and time again in our moving process that He was taking care of the little details.  I think our realtor thought we were insane every time we said, we aren't worried about it and if it is meant to be God will handle it.  Handle it all, he did.  We closed on our barn in February 2017 and have loved being in our new home this year.

One small example of God's hand on our moving process is this story:  We had to sell our old house to be able to move.  We had many showings on our house in December of 2016.  We were starting to get a little discouraged that we weren't getting offers on our home, but so many showings.  I just had a gut feeling that we weren't going to go into the new year (2017) without an offer on our home.  I kept telling my hubby this and as December 31 approached we were starting to get nervous.  I prayed and prayed that if my dream barn was meant to be God would provide.  We went to a friend's house for New Years Eve and our friend kept asking how we were going to make it work.  We kept saying we are just relying on God.  He called us to step out in faith and we are leaping out.  So New Year's Eve came and went with no offers on our house.  The next morning on January 1, 2017 I was getting ready for church and heard both hubby's and my phone beep for text messages.  It was our realtor and he said you have an offer on your house, but I am headed to church and will text you later.  Hubby texted and asked out of curiosity, when did this offer come in?  December 31 just before midnight was the answer.  You better believe I was praying and thanking God for providing.  This ended up being the offer we accepted and everything went through, but there were plenty more times God had His hand on the whole process.

After we moved, it started to become clear to us that we needed to change churches.  The 30-35 minute drive to church was becoming a lot for us and there were some other reasons we had for changing churches.  We kept praying and seeking God's direction and He again asked us to step out in faith and change churches.  We were struggling to find a church that was a good fit for everyone in the family, but we knew that God would show us where to go.  He did lead us to a new church just when we thought we were never going to find the right one.  God did this at the local county fair of all places.  We met the youth pastor and his wife and decided that the next week we would try out the church they were at.  We went there and knew it was exactly the church God was leading us to.

There are many other times we stepped in faith this year and God provided.  This post would be a lot, lot longer if I listed them all out.  It has been amazing to us to see God show us the things he has showed us this year.  Obedience has been key to it all and the more obedient we became to the steps God was telling us to take, the more he opened the doors.  I wish I had the time to tell you every single step He had us take this year, but I don't.  Just know that while faith isn't the main word I feel that God wants me to focus on for 2018, it is something I will continue to be obedient to.  Next week I will be sharing the word I believe God wants me to focus on for 2018.

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