Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!!!


We have been extremely blessed this year and we are looking forward to what God has in store for us in 2017.  So this evening as you enjoy time with friends and family while reflecting on this past year, please know that I am grateful for everyone who reads my little blog, comments, and shares.  I am thankful you have shared the past years with me and my family and we look forward to sharing the New Year with you too!  From my family to yours - Happy New Year!!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

December Check-in

At the end of November I posted about Rebooting.  I needed to get back on track with my eating and exercising.  This was something I was really struggling with and I knew I needed to just jump in and start.  December is always a tough month to do this, but I also knew if I had accountability it would make turning down the treats easier.  In my post from November I committed to restarting Trim Healthy Mama eating, exercising regularly, getting my steps in,  So how have I done?
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, Rebooting
  • Restarting Trim Healthy Mama - I am about 1/2 way there.  I started off December very strong and eating very well.  Then we've had a few things come up that I hope to be able to share with you soon, but they are pretty stressful so that lead to some stress eating.  I did much better than I have done in the past, but I knew I wasn't making great choices.  I was able to turn down many treats this month.  I had a goal of losing 5 pounds this month and I am just about there thanks to a nasty flu bug I got on Christmas Eve.  On the bright side, the flu bug helped finish resetting my taste buds and there are some foods I will not touch for a long time.
  • Exercising - Again I started off great with this and then we got C-R-A-Z-Y busy so my routine exercising went out the window.  I was still moving just due to being busy, but not officially exercising.
  • Getting My Steps In - Most days this month I did get my steps in, but some days I must admit I fell short.  Some times I missed my step goal by just a couple hundred steps and a couple of days I missed it big time.  The last few days I haven't even looked due to being sick, but I am definitely committing to doing better in January.
  • Water - I have definitely started drinking more water, but I could still get in even more.  I have drastically cut back on the soda and focused more on water.  I am getting there and water is not tasting as boring as it usually does so I guess that is good.
For January I am going to continue focusing on these 4 things because I know that I can do better on each of these goals.  I am happy to have lost 4.5 pounds as of today.  I am hoping to sneak in that last half pound before January 1, but even if I don't I am happy with my progress.  Slow and steady wins the race, right?

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas

A glimpse of Normal Blog

God has blessed us greatly this year and we pray He did the same for you.  May you enjoy your family as you celebrate this Christmas.  Merry Christmas and God Bless You!!!

Cassandra, Jason, Buddy, and Little Miss

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

My Favorite Christmas Tradition

We all have our favorite Christmas traditions.  I posted last week about how we set aside a day for baking and as a family we put together some treats for friends and neighbors.  I love doing this and we have a lot of fun doing it, but it isn't my favorite Christmas tradition.  My very favorite Christmas tradition started when I was just a little girl.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, Favorite Christmas Tradition
Our Christmas Jammies in 2013
When I was a little girl, my mom always went out of her way to make Christmas special for us.  She was a single mom and she worked hard to provide for us.  I am sure she had some help from my grandparents and other friends and family, but I know that she went without around the holidays so that she could spoil us.  My favorite tradition always happened on Christmas Eve.  On Christmas Eve we always got to open up just one present.  This present was a new pair of pajamas.  I loved going to bed in my new jammies and waking up on Christmas morning and opening presents in them.

Christmas Jammies is a tradition that Hubby and I continued when we got married and especially now with the kids.  They always look forward to their Christmas jammies.  Over the years we have added to the tradition.  They get to open their jammies on Christmas Eve, but now they find not only jammies in the box.  It also contains a Christmas movie and snacks.  We put on our new jammies, pop in the movie, and munch on our snacks.  The kids love this tradition as much as I always have and they have already told me that they will do the same tradition someday with their kids.

What traditions do you have?

Friday, December 16, 2016

Friday Favorites - Cookies

Christmas is almost here and we have a yearly tradition of doing a baking day just before Christmas.  We pick a bunch of cookies, spend the day making them, and then we give them out to friends and neighbors.  It is a lot of fun for us and an easy way to bring a little Holiday Joy to our friends and neighbors.  So as I was writing out a list of things we have coming up next week, I thought I would sit down and share a few of our favorite cookie recipes with you. These are recipes I use at Christmas time and throughout the year, they are my go to, tried and true, cookie recipes.
Sour Cream Cut Out Cookies, A Glimpse of Normal Blog
1.  Sour Cream Cut-Out Cookies - The post about this one was from Valentine's Day a few years ago, but I use the same cut-out cookie recipe year round.  I love this recipe because it is quick and easy.  It is also my very favorite cut-out cookie recipe because you do not have to wait hours for the dough to chill.  You make it and use it right away.  LOVE it!!!

2.  Snickerdoodles - We have a minor major cinnamon addiction in our house, so we LOVE snickerdoodles.  The best recipe I have found comes from Lil' Luna, a blog I ran across one day.  She offers up some pretty tasty recipes.  These snickerdoodles are easy and both kids love helping with them.  I pretty much make the dough, Buddy rolls them out, Little Miss rolls them in cinnamon and sugar, and Hubby pops them in the oven.  It's an assembly line that works and this recipe 3-4 dozen cookies so I don't even need to double it.

3.  No Bake Cookies - We make multiple batches of these chocolate, peanut butter no bake cookies because as fast as they set up, my family eats them.  The struggle is real!  Sometimes I get a little lazy and just pour the hot mixture into a greased 9 x 13 pan and then once it cools, cut it into squares instead of dropping it by spoonfuls.

4.  Peanut Butter Cup Cookies - We might have a peanut butter addiction in our house too.  We LOVE these cookies.  These are SO good and the worst part is unwrapping all those peanut butter cups without eating them....so hard.

5.  Chocolate Covered Pretzel Peanut Butter Bites - While technically not a cookie, these pretzel bites are the perfect combo of sweet and salty.  Of course we love them for the peanut butter aspect, but they are so tasty!  They are fun too because my kids like to put sprinkles in the chocolate after hubby and I dip them to make them look festive.

We have more on our list of goodies to make, but I don't want to spoil the surprise for friends that might be reading this.  I always add a new recipe or two to try out on our baking days too.  It is a crazy, messy day, but a day we look forward to all year.

What are your favorite kind of cookies?  Do you have a recipe to share because I would love to see it?  Do you make goodies for friends and neighbors?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Another Way to Save: Groupon Coupons



Please note this is a sponsored post. All opinions expressed in this post are 100% mine.

I am all about saving money and getting good deals.  I love big sales, clearance racks, and coupons.  So you can imagine how excited I was to find out that Groupon not only has great deals on local services, restaurants, and businesses, but they also offer Groupon Coupons.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, Groupon Coupons
Groupon Coupons is a great resource to find some fantastic deals.  They offer verified coupons that work for tons of retailers.  Some of the coupons work for online and some work when they are printed and taken to your favorite retailer.  Currently for the area where I live I can find over 80,000 coupons for over 11,000 stores.  There is really a coupon for everyone in their site.
grouponlogo
I was very excited to find coupons from Groupon Coupons for two of my favorite stores, Claire's and Rue21.  I have been checking Claire's lately for stocking stuffers for my daughter since she LOVES this store and could spend days looking at all of their jewelry.  I was super excited to find that Groupon Coupons offers coupons for Claire's and that I could use these coupons to shop online.  I don't have to fight the crowds at the mall and I can shop when it is convenient for me while saving money.  Some of the coupons offered for Claire's are FREE Shipping on orders over $35, 20% off of your order, and get an extra 25% off your order.  I was also very excited to find Groupon Coupons for Rue21.  They always have the CUTEST boots, shoes, and purses.  I love their scarves and accessories too.  Many of the coupons offered on Groupon Coupons for Rue21 can be used online and in-store.  This is perfect for me because I like to try on their shoes before I buy them.  Some of the coupons offered are 25% off your next purchase, 70% off on clearance items, and FREE shipping.  These coupons can really save you a lot of money.
Like I mentioned before their are coupons for many, many stores such as:
  • The Children's Place
  • Kohl's
  • Old Navy
  • Walgreen's
  • Disney Store
  • New Balance
  • Sally Beauty
The list goes on and on.  You can also find coupons for services and restaurants in there too.  So next time before you go shopping, be sure to check out Groupon Coupons to see if you can save even more money.  We definitely will be checking them out and saving money with Groupon Coupons.

Did you know about Groupon Coupons?  How will you save money using Groupon Coupons?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Decisions, Decisions

Lately we have been trying to make some decisions.  They are pretty big, important decisions and they are hard.  We have went back and forth, wavered, said yes, put the brakes on, and taken every single step of a decision you can take.  The most important step of the decisions we have been making that we have taken is to PRAY.  Every time we sit here and say “I don’t know,” we pray.  It seems like God just keeps opening the doors and answering our prayers.  Even though we have been Christians for quite awhile now, we haven’t always stopped to ask God first because we get caught up in what we want, what we think, and just doing.  This time, with these decisions, it has been completely different.  Why?  God.  We are actively looking for God’s answers and continually asking Him for His will instead of just pushing ahead with our wants, desires, and what we think we should do.  It has been amazing to me to see how God has opened doors for us.  We have been looking for Him to take the lead and when you look for that, that is exactly what you find.  We have seen where God has clearly said NO.  We have seen God open doors that were previously closed and doors that we didn’t even think of.  We’ve seen Him say “Wait” and that has been okay.  Even with my impatient nature I am seeing how the wait is okay.  We are taking our decisions one step at a time and actively seeking God’s will for us.   This time we agreed to seek God first, then we decide.  In the end through all the decisions, maybe God will say No after all and that will be okay because I know it will be from Him.  In the meantime, we have peace while we wait because we know God is in the lead.  When God is in the lead, who am I to argue? 
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, Decisions
While I am not ready to share any specifics with you about our decisions today, I promise I will share at some point.  If you pray, please pray that we continue to seek God’s will first in our decisions and that the decisions we are making will work according to His plan.  We know without a doubt His plans are by far greater than ours and that brings us peace, hope, and joy.  God is good ALL the time!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Nail Polish Dipped Ornaments

Every December I take part in an ornament exchange.  I also love to make ornaments with the kids to give to Sunday School teachers and family members.  So this year as December got closer I kept seeing a video on Facebook of how to make nail polish dipped ornaments.  Being curious like I am I wondered if it would really work like they showed in the video.  Could it really be that easy to make a cute ornament?  I have tried recipes that I see on those videos and they aren't always as easy or as tasty as the video shows (some are though), but I thought I would give it a shot.
Glimpse Of Normal Blog, Nail Polish Dipped Ornaments

Items Needed:
Clear bulb ornaments - any size (I happened to have mini-ornaments left over from last year)
Various shades of nail polish
Bowl
Water
Toothpick
Clothes Pins (this I added, you will see why)
What To Do:
1.  Fill your bowl of water 3/4 of the way full.
2.  Using the clothes pins, clip them on the tops of the ornaments.  This made it easier for me to dip my ornaments and then to set them down to dry.
3.  Choose your first color of nail polish and pour some into the water.
4.  With a second color of nail polish, take the brush, dip it into the polish and then tap it over the other color of nail polish in the bowl of water.  Ideally you want a drop here or there, but if you end up with a big blob it is okay.

(Note: I did try adding glitter nail polish to the water and it made the colors separate so don't add it to the water.  I did end up using glitter polish for some sparkle, but I waited until the next day when my ornaments were dry and just brushed it directly on the ornament.)
5.  Using your toothpick, swirl the colors until it is a pretty pattern or as mixed as you want it to be.

6.  Grab the ornament by the clothes pin and then dip it into the nail polish water.  Swirl it in the water to get as much nail polish on the ornament as desired.
7.  After you pull the ornament out of the water, let it dry.  I let my ornaments dry overnight, but I am sure they were dry in just a couple of hours, if that long.
8.  The following morning I brushed glitter nail polish directly on my ornaments and then set them down to dry again.  I thought the glitter would pick up the Christmas lights from the tree.
These ornaments turned out super cute and they really were super easy to make.  They are something I will make this year with my kids because they could do this project without it being too messy.  I also like this project because it is a great way to use up some nail polish and overall it was an inexpensive project to do.  The worst part of this project was cleaning up the bowl so next time I will just use a plastic bowl that I could throw away.  What crafts do you do at Christmas time?

Saturday, December 3, 2016

December's Menu Plan

I sincerely apologize for being a few days late with this menu plan post.  My computer has been less than cooperative this week.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, December, Menu Plan
Anyway, December is here and since we are busy, busy, busy this month, a menu plan comes in super handy.  I know what we are going to eat and a lot of these meals can be thrown in my crock pot or my Instant Pot (man, I LOVE my Instant Pot).  You will notice that the first full week in December is full of soups this is because we have some teeth issues again.  My daughter has to get a tooth pulled this week that keeps getting infected and my son has to go see the oral surgeon to get an adult tooth exposed because it still isn't coming in.  So since there will be sore mouths in our house this week, I had to plan soft foods.  Of course our family is all about soup so no one is complaining.  Anyway, you can find all of these meals on my December Menu Plan board on Pinterest along with some extras because anything left from last year's menu plan is still in that board too.  Here is our menu for the month:
  1. Ooey Gooey Parmesan Meatballs
  2. Fooled Ya Pizza
  3. Taco Salad Crunch
  4. Carry-in (I am taking meatballs)
  5. Potato Soup
  6. Vegetable Beef Soup
  7. White Bean & Bacon Soup
  8. Lemon Chicken Soup
  9. Pizza Soup
  10. Slow Cooker Cabbage Rolls
  11. Crockpot Rice and Beans
  12. Baked Pork Steak
  13. Spicy Cauliflower Burgers
  14. Cilantro Parmesan Salmon
  15. Enchirritos
  16. Pizza Casserole
  17. Greek Steak Pitas
  18. Sushi Rice Bowls
  19. Foil Sausage with Veggies Packets
  20. Southwestern Quinoa Wrap
  21. Black Bean Tostadas with Cilantro Lime Sauce
  22. Hot & Spicy Italian Drip Beef
  23. Stromboli
  24. Beef & Sweet Potato Chowder
  25. Christmas Dinner
  26. Broccoli Cheddar Rice Cups
  27. Sour Cream Beef Enchiladas
  28. Jambalaya
  29. Miss Cindy's Burger Bowls
  30. Pizza
  31. Chipotle Burrito Bowls
What is on your menu this month?  Do you have a favorite dish to take to carry-ins?  I would love to hear your feedback.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Rebooting

This is a difficult post for me because I am about to be very transparent with you.  It is always something I am afraid to do, but since this blog is my place to get my thoughts down and clear my head and I always want to be an honest blogger, I dare to bare my heart with you.  So please be nice if you choose to comment on this post.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog
I have posted on my blog, a very long time ago, about my journey to get to a healthy weight for me.  I was doing really good about a year ago and then life happened.  Life hit me really, really hard starting in 2014 with the death of my grandma, Mammaw.  Then in 2015 I lost 2 very, very close friends a month apart followed by another personal situation involving very close friends.  I held it together and stayed on my weight loss journey for the most part until about October of 2015.  Then I very slowly started back into old, bad food habits.  Just a sugary treat here after a long day and a sip of soda there.  Eventually it lead to a comfort food meal here and there, a half a can of soda here and there, and then before I knew it I was more off of my eating plan than I was on it.  I knew that the weight I had lost was very slowly coming back, a pound here and there.  I kept telling myself that I would get back on my eating plan tomorrow.  Then something else hard would happen and well...you know, it is a vicious cycle.  All this leads me to say that I am truly ready to get back on track with my eating and exercising so that I can get myself back to a healthy weight for me.  Please know that my doctor does approve of my eating plan and the amount of weight I want to lose.  She does agree that I need to lose it and that it would improve my health.  I am currently not unhealthy, but being at my current weight does affect my asthma negatively and shedding some pounds greatly helps me keep my asthma under control.

You might think I am out of my mind crazy, but I am planning my reboot to start tomorrow on December 1.  Seriously?  December?  Are you crazy?  Yes, but that is a whole different blog post....okay not really, but for me it is actually easier to get through the Holiday season with out over indulging in sugary treats if I know I have a plan.  So what is this crazy plan?
  1. Restart Trim Healthy Mama - This is the eating plan that I used before and while not everyone will agree with it or understand it, it works for me when I use it.  I like being able to eat normal foods and that my family can eat the same foods I do.  My family had no complaints about the meals before and I know they won't have any complaints now.  This way of eating is also easy for me because you focus on each individual meal and if I eat something off plan, I just eat something on plan for my next meal or snack and get myself back on track.  What will be different this time?  I will give myself more grace if I eat something off plan and realize that one slip doesn't ruin an entire plan.  
  2. Workout - I admit I am terrible about working out.  I really dislike formal workouts.  If my workout feels like fun?  I am all in.  I seriously, honest to goodness use video game workouts way more than I ever have used workout videos.  I have a Zumba game for my Wii (I am terrible at it, but have fun doing it) and a few sports Kinect games for our Xbox 360 that I use for workouts.  I need to dust those off and use them.  I am also going to through in some actual workout videos and do those too....while grumbling about not liking workouts.  ๐Ÿ˜  What will be different this time?  I will be intentional about working out somehow each day.  One thing that I am going to do is start this squat challenge.  I have done this in the past and while it is painful for a few days, it does firm up the flab.  
  3. Get My Steps In - This past summer I bought myself a Garmin Vivofit that tracks my steps for me and gives me a daily goal.  Some days I am great at getting my steps in and other days I have too much computer  work to get done or am helping with school and I don't get the steps in.  Starting tomorrow I plan to hit my step goal every day.  Even if it means I am walking circles around my kitchen island before bed, I will hit my step goal.  I dare say, if I have to I will even blow the dust off the treadmill and hit it each day.  What will be different this time?  I am determined to hit my step goal daily.
  4. Water - I have been terrible about getting my water in every day.  Water is so plain and boring, but it is what my body desperately needs.  I just really need to get in the habit of getting in at least 64 oz. of water a day.  This water should be in addition to any coffee or tea I have, not including them.  What will be different?  I will track my water intake and not just guess if I get it in.
This is where I am starting and this is what I am starting with.  I plan to check in here at least once a month and update my weight loss ticker.  I don't know about you, but I do better when I get a visual picture of what I want to do and that is what the ticker does for me.  If you have any health goals, I would love to hear about them and cheer you on.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Thanksgiving Weekend Traditions

Thanksgiving has come and gone in a whirlwind.  We enjoyed time with family and friends this weekend in addition to getting much of our Christmas shopping done.  I feel like we are a little ahead of the game this year...maybe...if I am lucky.  Anyway, we have a few Thanksgiving weekend traditions that I want to share with you just for fun.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog
Tradition #1 - Getting the Christmas Tree Up
We almost always put our Christmas tree up the weekend of Thanksgiving.  There has been a year or two where we have been sick and it has had to wait, but for the most part it goes up the day after Thanksgiving.  In past years we have always had an artificial tree and it is beautiful.  My mom and step dad gave it to us when they closed his florist shop and it has lived a good life at our house and been VERY loved.  The artificial tree we have is starting to show its age so for the last few years we have been on the lookout for another one, but we have been unsuccessful at finding another artificial tree that compares at a reasonable price.  So this year we tried something completely new for us and we bought a live Christmas tree.  So far I am loving it and it doesn't bug me too much to clean up the needles daily.

Tradition #2 - Setting Out the Christmas Decorations
In addition to putting up the Christmas tree on Thanksgiving weekend, we also set out all of our Christmas decorations.  There are wreaths, signs, lights, Christmas houses, snowmen, and Nativity sets.  I LOVE all of it and love finding a home for each piece.  Almost every room has something Christmas in it and it just helps us stay in the holiday spirit.  My favorite pieces are my Snowmen Ice Rink and my Nativity sets.  This year my table centerpiece got a makeover due to an unfortunate accident with last year's table centerpiece.  I use to have a snowman cookie jar filled with ornaments that sat in the middle of my table, but he had a rather bad accident last year and didn't quite make it to this year.  So I used my hurricane lamp which is meant for a candle, put some foam in the bottom to block anything from falling out and filled it with my ornaments.  I LOVE the result.  It looks elegant, yet it was so simple.


Here is the hurricane lampshade full of ornaments.
A view of the ornaments in the hurricane shade.
Tradition #3 - A New Ornament for Each of the Kids
We started the tradition of an ornament for each of the kids the year Buddy was born.  It quickly became a tradition that both kids love.  They get a new ornament each year and the ornament we pick out for them is based on what they are into that year or a memory from the year.   Each year as we decorate the tree, it is fun to pull these ornaments out and reminisce why we picked each one.   The only thing that makes me sad about this tradition is that some day each kid will get to take their ornament collection with them when they grow up and move out.  This year Buddy got a "bronco" that is disguised as Rudolph because he is currently fixing up an old bronco with his dad.  Little Miss got a cowgirl boot since we have jumped into the world of riding horses and racing this year.


Tradition #4 - Decorating the Outside of the House
Normally we pick a warm day to get all the lights up outside.  This year they have not went up yet, but only because there is a little more work to be done on the roof to finish getting our house re-roofed.  So the lights should be up by the week's end.


What are your Thanksgiving weekend traditions?   I would love to hear all about them.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Blue Ribbon Awards - Homeschool Review Crew Favorites of 2016

Our family has been greatly blessed this past year to be a part of the Homeschool Review Crew.  We got the chance to review over 50 products this year and share our opinions on them with you.  Recently we got to vote for our favorite review products this year and let the companies know how much we loved their product.  Today I am going to share with your our 2016 Blue Ribbon Award Choices, but if you want to go and see how the Homeschool Review Crew as a whole voted click here.  
Meet the Homeschool Review Crew Curriculum Favourites for 2016
There were several categories to vote in because the Crew reviewed A LOT of products this year.  So I will list the category and then our families vote.  It was tough voting because we loved so many of the products we reviewed, but we had to pick the top one for us.  Remember if you want to see how the Crew voted overall, you have to click the picture above or the link I gave above.

Favorite Reading Curriculum:  MaxScholar
Favorite Writing Curriculum:  Writers in Residence
Favorite Vocabulary Program:  HelpTeaching.com
Favorite Spelling Program:  Essential Skills Advantage
Favorite Grammar Program:  The Critical Thinking Co. (Sentence Diagramming)
Favorite Literature Curriculum:  Progeny Press
Favorite Literature Resource:  Heirloom Audio: Cat of Bubastes
Favorite History/Social Studies Curriculum:  Home School in the Woods
Favorite History/Social Studies Supplement:  Carole Roman
Favorite Science Curriculum:  Science Shepherd
Favorite Science Supplement:  HelpTeaching.com
Favorite Math Curriculum:  CTC Math
Favorite Math Supplement:  Trigger Memory System
Favorite Foreign Language Curriculum:  Middlebury Interactive Languages
Favorite Fine Arts Product/Curriculum:  ArtAchieve
Favorite Elective Curriculum:  Online Christian Filmmakers Academy
Favorite Christian Education Curriculum:  YWAM Publishing
Favorite Christian Education Product:  Chara Games
Favorite Elementary Product:  The Pencil Grip
Favorite Middle School Product:  Art Achieve
Favorite Parent Product:  Hey Mama!  Schoolhouse Planner
Best Resource I Didn't Know I Needed:  NotebookingPages.com
Best Online Resource:  MySchoolYear
Best E-Product:  Trigger Memory System
Favorite Book, Novel, Audio Book, or Audio Drama:  Heirloom Audio: Beric the Briton
Just for Fun!:  Chara Games
Kids' Choice (Ages 0-12):  The Pencil Grip, Inc.
Teens' Choice:  ArtAchieve
All Around Crew Favorite:  CrossTimber

These are our votes for our favorite products this year.  There were so many companies and products we really enjoyed using and we continue to use in our school currently.  I am already looking forward to our next year on the Crew!   What are your favorite homeschool products you used this year?  


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

This year we are blessed to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends that are family.   God has blessed us way more than we deserve this year.  We have a warm home, hot food, and more comforts than we need.  Today as we gather and celebrate all we are thankful for, we will remember the loved ones no longer with us and the legacies they have left for us, those that are serving our country from the military to police to firefighters to paramedics, and our family who is not able to be around out table with us today.  From our family to yours:

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!  MAY YOU BE BLESSED TODAY AND ALWAYS!

Glimpse of Normal Blog, Happy Thanksgiving

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Our Week in Pictures

I had planned a completely different post today, but after our crazy week and Little Miss taking a tumble down our basement stairs (she is okay other than bruises and a busted lip), I am doing a week in pictures.  If you follow me on Instagram, these pictures may look slightly familiar.

Outside Handsome Hubby and Buddy have been roofing our house.
Inside I have been doing massive decluttering.

This was my to-do list on Thursday...busy, busy, busy.

Yesterday we had the patio door open because it was so warm.
Today we woke up to snow and cold.
Typical weather here.

Tonight Little Miss invited us to a tea party with her favorite friends.  
It was sweet, fun, and she read us stories.






Thursday, November 17, 2016

Holiday Shopping with Groupon Goods




Please note this is a sponsored post. All opinions expressed in this post are 100% mine.

The Holidays are coming up and I've got a lot of shopping to do.  I like to go shopping at the stores, but I hate fighting the crowds.  So what is a girl to do?  Shop online of course!!!  We all know that Groupon offers great deals on local businesses, restaurants, services, and getaways, but do you know that they also offer Groupon Goods?  
grouponlogo

Groupon Goods is a part of the Groupon website where you can shop for many different items from clothes to toys to electronics to groceries and much, much more.  The items you purchase on Groupon Goods are discounted and there are a limited number of them just like the other deals you can get on their website.  With 1000's of items in Groupon Goods to choose from, there is something for everyone on your list at great prices.
One item we have recently discussed since we homeschool and I blog is a new laptop so that we don't have so much downtime waiting on each other to finish with our computer.  Groupon Goods has well over 50 laptops to choose from and they offer free shipping for orders over $34.99.  Groupon clearly lists out the features of each laptop, the specs of it, and the fine print of the deal so you know exactly what you are getting right when you are ordering.  They even have a return policy just in case you need to return your item.  I think their laptops are reasonably priced and we will be searching their deals to see if they have one for us.
Groupon Goods is currently running a Pre-Black Friday Sale that you don't want to miss.  There are a lot of items in this sale at amazing prices, up to 80% off.  You definitely don't want to miss this sale, I know I will be taking advantage of it.  

Have you ever used Groupon Goods?  How do you save money with Groupon?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Commissioned - A Review of Chara Games

One of our favorite things to do as a family is to play games together.  We love all kinds of games so we were super excited when we recently received Commissioned from Chara Games to review.  We
were really excited not only to play Commissioned, but we were also excited about the theme of this game and what we would learn from it.
Commissioned {Chara Games}, Christian, Board Games, Strategy, History
Chara Games was founded in 2014 by Patrick and Katherine Lysaght.  Their goal is to design and develop games with Christian themes.  Their mission is to build games that create joy by developing relationships with God and the people around you.  Their games are unique because you work together strategically with each other to accomplish the mission rather than each player trying to accomplish their own mission.

Commissioned is a cooperative style board game for 2-6 players and they recommend it for ages 14 and up.  This game is historically based and takes about one hour to play.  The players are acting as the Apostles of the early Christian Church.  All the players work together to grow the church, collect the books of the New Testament, and overcome persecution.  Your mission is a success if you succeed in spreading the Gospel to all the countries on the board, collect all the books of the New Testament, and have at least one candle left ignited which represents the church (if you can survive the game with all 5 candles lit that is the best case scenario).  There are 5 different scenarios for the game that you can choose to play and 2 difficulty levels.  The game comes with:
  • Instructions for playing
  • A Double-Sided Game Board
  • 6 Unique Player Boards (the characters you can choose to be)
  • 96 Faith Cards
  • 27 Trial Cards
  • 4 Wood Missionary Meeples
  • 75 Wood Church Member Cubes
  • 1 Wood Elder's Staff
  • 6 Wood Player Pawns
  • 30 Double-Sided Stop Tokens
  • 5 Double-Sided Extinguished Tokens
  • 1 Converted City Leaders Token
  • 1 Roman Legion Token
  • 1 8-Sided Die
  • Theme Appendix
Even though the ages suggested on Commissioned is 14 and up, I thought Buddy (who is 13) would be able to get the concept of the game especially since he has recently really gotten into playing strategy board games.  I figured if he didn't quite get all the rules at first, he would pick them up the more we played.  Chara Games has made an "Official How to Play" video that makes understanding the rules much easier.  It is a 24 minute video, but once we watched it, we were set to play the game.  We did have to reference the written instructions several times the first time we played because there are several types of cards you can draw and we wanted to make sure we were using them in the game correctly.
The first time we (Buddy, Hubby, and I) played the game we chose to play out the "Acts of the Apostles" scenario (this is also what the game recommends to start with).  A victory in this scenario means that you have a church in every city and you collect all the New Testament cards.  This seems like it would be a pretty easy thing to do, but then you start playing the game and drawing trial cards and it gets much harder to have a victory in this scenario.  Each round of the game has 3 phases with several steps to it but the steps go hand in hand with each other so that the more you play the game, the less you have to think about completing each individual step.  There are the ARM, LIVE, and MATURE phases.  Each round has an Elder, which is the person who makes the final decisions for the round and this changes each round you play.  The Elder also gets to decide which churches should grow, which missionaries and/or apostles should move to a new country, and more.  It seems like a long process, but once you get playing each round moves quickly.  I am sad to tell you that we failed our mission the first time we played.  We didn't even come close to winning.  We played the game safe and by playing it safe our churches were extinguished.  The next time we played we let Little Miss play too since we had already figured out what we were doing.  She didn't quite get everything that was going on in the game and by the end she was having trouble paying attention, but she is only 8 and she did a great job for being so young.  We just helped her think the through the decisions she had to make and sometimes we helped pick what she should do when she was the Elder.  She was excited that she got to play too.  We did get closer to winning the game that night, but we still failed because we didn't the Gospel to a couple of countries and we didn't get all our books of the New Testament.  We have played a few times and each time we play we do better and we get closer to victory, but we have not won this scenario yet.  Buddy will not let us try the other scenarios until we win the "Acts of the Apostles."  He is determined and we like that!
I can tell you that we honestly love this game.  We love that we are working together to accomplish the goals instead of working against each other.  We love that this game is based on the Bible and even though we have a Biblical background, you don't need it to play this game.  The Theme Appendix that is included in the game has all kinds of Historical information for the people, places, and events that is very interesting to read about.  We love that every time we have played we have gotten different results based on our decisions and the cards we draw.  Even though we have lost every time we have played so far, we keep thinking how we can make better decisions and moves the next time...then you draw the trial cards and realize you can't plan for it at all.  We also love that there are multiple scenarios we can play in this game.  We are looking forward to playing the other scenarios after we become victors in the "Acts of the Apostles" scenario or convince Buddy that we should try another scenario (whichever happens first๐Ÿ˜„).  This game is definitely in our rotation of family game night games.

We were so close to victory this night...
I am also very excited about the newest game that Chara Games has to offer.  It is called 3 Seeds and it is designed by Anthony and Holli Buhr.  This is a card game style game and it is currently in production.  A limited amount of this game has been sent out so far and I am lucky enough to be on the list to receive this game to review in the very near future.  My understanding is that 3 Seeds is a game about using your resources to mange your time, money, and labor.  I am looking forward to receiving it and playing it so I can tell you all about it.

You can find out more about Chara Games on their website.  You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.  You can find out more information about their game Commissioned by clicking here.  My friends on the Homeschool Review Crew have also been playing Commissioned so you can click the banner below to check out their reviews too.
Commissioned {Chara Games}