Saturday, September 15, 2018

September Menu Plan - Week of September 16-22

Happy Saturday!!!  I can't believe it is the middle of the month already.  Where does the time go?  Our schedule is slowing down some and settling in now that we have been back in school for a couple of weeks.  Having a better routine is really helping with menu planning and sticking to what we are eating.  You might notice it is mostly soft foods this week.  That is because CJ had his wisdom teeth removed yesterday and needs to eat soft foods.  He is healing nicely and feels pretty good so far.
A Glimpse of Normal, Weekly Menu Plan, September 16-22, Free Printable
This is what we will be having this week for dinner.  You can find the recipes on my September Menu Plan board on Pinterest.  There are also extra recipes on there from menu plans past.  So feel free to take a look around while you are there.  Also at the end of this post, you will find the FREE printable Menu Planning Sheet I created to help you out.  I am enjoying that everyone can see what is coming up for dinner for the week.  I am slowly working on planning out breakfast and lunches too...eventually I will get those in too.  Print off the sheet by clicking the arrow in the picture.

Sunday - Chili
Monday - Stuffed Acorn Squash
Tuesday - Mexican Cornbread Casserole
Wednesday - Lentil Soup
Thursday - Hamburgers
Friday - Stuffed Pizza Bread (CJ will just eat the filling)
Saturday - Loaded Potato and Meatloaf Casserole

Come back next Saturday to see what we will have to eat the following week.

Get your free printable Menu Planning Sheet by clicking the arrow in the top of the picture.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Mermaid Spa Birthday Party

Missy just turned 10.  We don't do a big party for our kids every year, but this year was different.  Celebrating double digits calls for a big party.  Since 10 is a big deal, this party became a slumber party - Missy's first slumber party.  We started planning for it and thinking of ideas for it early this year because Missy had no clue what she wanted her party to be.  We started doing some searching and she finally decided on a Mermaid Spa theme.  She wanted the decorations to be mermaid themed and do manicures, pedicures, and facials at the party.  This I could do.  Of course, you all know I went to Pinterest and did some searching for ideas and I found lots.  So I thought I would share some party pics with you this week of the decorations and cake.  Then in the next few weeks, I will share how I created some of the items.  Most of the things I created and picked for the party could easily be switched to any theme.
A Glimpse of Normal

A Glimpse of Normal

A Glimpse of Normal
Balloon Mermaid Tail - we also had lights under there that we lit at night.  My picture of that didn't turn out well.
A Glimpse of Normal

A Glimpse of Normal
These are buckets I altered for the girls to take home all the trinkets and loot they got throughout the party.
A Glimpse of Normal
I had the facial area all ready to go and we used a mask from Perfectly Posh that is safe for kids.  I kept the washcloths warm in the crockpot.
A Glimpse of Normal

A Glimpse of Normal
This was the nail bar we set up.  They had to spin to pick colors for fingers and toes.
A Glimpse of Normal
I used chocolate melts, edible shimmer dust, and these molds to create chocolate mermaid tails for the top of the cake.

A Glimpse of Normal

A Glimpse of Normal
I made the inside of the cake tie-dye.  I'll be doing a post on that soon.

A Glimpse of Normal
We also did an ice cream bar.

A Glimpse of Normal
We did a cereal bar for breakfast.  This was a real treat because I normally only buy Cheerios.

A Glimpse of Normal
We tie-dyed shirts.

A Glimpse of Normal
Missy re-purposed her cake topper for her lunch.

A Glimpse of Normal
Treasure Hunt fun.

A Glimpse of Normal
More treasure hunt fun.
Missy and the girls had tons of fun at the party.  They loved getting pampered at "the spa" which really just means that hubby and I gave manicures, pedicures, and facials.  They loved the decorations and the party bucket they received.  We kept them busy and entertained.  They went home tired so I guess the party was good.

*This post does contain some affiliate links.  This means if you order from the links I provided, I do earn a small commission paid by the company you order from.  You don't pay any extra for the product.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A Review Who Was Jonah? and Who Was Mary, Mother of Jesus? from Barbour Publishing

Finding a good mix of educational and entertaining can be hard when it comes to books for children.  It seems like so many times when a book is educational, it is boring to Missy and when the book is entertaining, there is nothing educational about it.  This is why I was curious to find out if Who Was Jonah? and Who Was Mary, Mother of Jesus?, which are both parts of the Kingdom Files series from Barbour Publishing, would be both educational and entertaining.
Kingdom Files Who Was Jonah
Kingdom Files Who Was Mary Mother of Jesus
Barbour Publishing is a Christian publishing company that has been around since the early 1980's and they release more than 120 Christian titles every year.  They have books for every age and their mission is: "To inspire the world with the life-changing message of the Bible."  I can stand behind a company with a goal like that.
Barbour Publishing
The Kingdom Files book series is a series of non-fiction Bible Bibliographies written by Matt Koceich.  This series is for kids 8-12 and it is written so that kids can explore the life of a Bible character.  They learn about the person, how God uses this person, and the actions this person took as God used them.  Each book is divided into three parts.  The first part is the "FACT FILE" and this is where we learn all about the person in the bibliography.  We learn who the person is, their occupation, where they live, and other important background information that you need to know about the person to study them.  They also include a mini timeline so you can see what is happening in history during the same time period as the character lived.  The second part is the "ACTION FILE."  This is the Bible story that is associated with the person presented in a way so that kids can understand it.  Throughout the first two parts of the book, there are also clues that help readers think deeper about a topic or event in the bibliography.  The third part of the book is the "POWER FILE."  This is where the main lessons from the bibliography are told.  It tells the main lessons that the character learned and how the child can apply them to their life too along with a Bible verse that they can memorize if they choose.  Throughout the book, there are illustrations to go along with the story.  The Kingdom Files series includes Who Was Jonah?, Who Was Mary, Mother of Jesus?, Who Is Jesus?, Who Was Esther?, Who Was Daniel? and  Who Was David?.  Each book is available for just $4.99.
A Glimpse of Normal
We received Who Was Jonah? and Who Was Mary, Mother of Jesus? to review.  The paperback books we received have around 85 pages of reading along with a note to the reading detective, an about the author page, and some pages for taking notes as you read.  Both books also contained a snippet about the other books in the series, but in the Mary book, there was an excerpt from one of the other books in the series.  Missy chose to read the book about Mary first.  I had her read it over a few days time as her Bible lesson for school.  The book is divided into chapters so I would have her read 3-4 chapters a day until she got to the "POWER FILE."  We went over the points in this part of the book all in one day but stopped to discuss each of the ten points presented and how they could apply to her life.  Through reading this book about Mary, Missy was reminded that Mary was just a teenager when she became pregnant with Jesus and that at first Joseph was not sure about staying with Mary until the angel told him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife.  Missy also learned of the incredible faith and peace that Mary had about giving birth to God's Son.  Missy also learned how Mary showed her faith at other points throughout Jesus' life like at the wedding in Cana and watching her Son be crucified.  It really made Missy stop and think about what it must have been like for Mary to see all that happened at the cross.  Then as we got to the ten Power-Ups in the "POWER FILE" we read through each one and discussed how Missy could use them in her life.  Missy liked each Power-Up because they were quick reminders of how God is working.  From the Power-ups, she decided that she really needs to let her life glorify God (live for God all the time) and she doesn't need to worry because God will take care of her.  Missy truly enjoyed this book and said that it was fun to read and it kept her attention.  She had a hard time putting it down to do her other schoolwork.  She would like to read the other books in the series.
A Glimpse of Normal
I read Who Was Jonah?.  I wanted to see what the books were all about for myself.  I have to tell you that I went into reading it thinking it was a book for kids so it would just tell the story of Jonah in a simple form and maybe give kids some things to think about.  I was so wrong.  I was blessed and reminded of so many things while reading this book for kids.  Of course, the book tells how Jonah was a prophet that was supposed to go to Nineveh and he tried to run away instead.  It tells how Jonah ended up in the belly of a big fish and finally ended up going to Nineveh.  It tells how the people of Nineveh repented and God spared them.  Then it told the not so pretty part of this story where Jonah is mad that God spared the people.  Jonah knew the people repented and turned back to God, but he struggled to forget how wicked the city had been and all the bad things they had done.  It tells how God shows mercy to an angry Jonah by providing him with a plant for shade and God teaches Jonah lessons by letting the plant die.  He doesn't give up on Jonah just like he didn't give up on Nineveh.  Then I read through the Power-Ups to see how I could apply them to my life.  Although I can apply each and every one to my life the two that I need to apply the most is "God Loves" and I need to love like He does and "Live By Faith" which means totally relying on and trusting in God.  Like I said I thought this was just a kids book, but it truly made me think about what I would do if I were in Jonah's shoes and I realized I have been in situations where I know what God is telling me to do and I try and run.  I need to be faithful and do what God calls me to do without running even if it is hard or scary because when I do God's will, He provides for all my needs.  I was also reminded that I shouldn't be like Jonah when God's plans change.  I don't want to be angry that what I thought would/should happen doesn't happen.  I need to see and appreciate that God gives mercy and grace because I have received more than my share of both.  I will definitely have Missy read this book and see what she comes up with as the lessons she learns.

We highly recommend Who Was Jonah? and Who Was Mary, Mother of Jesus? from the Kingdom Files book series.  These powerful books are well worth the time to read them.  We definitely want to read the other books in this series as well.  You can learn more about Who Was Jonah? and Who Was Mary, Mother of Jesus? by clicking on each of the titles and you can learn about the entire Kingdom Files series by clicking here.  You can learn more about Barbour Publishing on their website, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.  You can read my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew thought of these books by clicking the banner below.
Kingdom Files {Barbour Publishing Reviews}

Saturday, September 8, 2018

September Menu Plan - Week of September 9-15

This past week has flown by.  It was a short week due to Labor Day on Monday, but I think it was the longest short week ever.  So here it is Saturday again and you need a menu plan for the week.  I am really liking the weekly menu plan vs. the monthly menu plan.  It gives me more flexibility.  I have not had a chance to get to the grocery store this week so I had to change some of our meals around to use what I had on hand this past week.  I think the meal I had for Saturday we had on Tuesday and Tuesday's meal from last week will go on Saturday.  It's all good because I am using up the food we have around the house and waiting until I have a whole shopping list to head into town.  This upcoming week and next week when I post it, you will notice more soups.  CJ is getting wisdom teeth taken out and will be on a soft food diet for a little bit.  I don't want to drive him nuts making food he can't have.  On the plus side I have a few soups already ready for him.  Every time we have had soup lately, I have been freezing a couple of bowls worth knowing he would need them and want variety.  Cook once, eat twice...it's a good theory and might show up as a blog post.
A Glimpse of Normal, Weekly Menu Plan, September 9-15
This is what we will be having this week for dinner.  You can find the recipes on my September Menu Plan board on Pinterest.  There are also extra recipes on there from menu plans past.  So feel free to take a look around while you are there.  Also at the end of this post you will find the FREE printable Menu Planning Sheet I created to help you out.  My kids are loving being able to see what is coming up for the dinner and I am slowing working on planning out breakfast and lunches too...eventually I will get those in too.  Print off the sheet by clicking the arrow in the picture.

Sunday - Cheeseburger Soup
Monday - Instant Pot White Chicken Chili
Tuesday - Crockpot Chicken Cheesesteak Sandwiches
Wednesday - Black Bean, Rice, and Veggie Tacos
Thursday - Smoked Country Style Ribs
Friday - Pull Apart Pizza Star
Saturday - Homemade Amish Chicken and Noodles

See you right back here next Saturday for another menu plan for another week.

Get your free printable Menu Planning Sheet by clicking the arrow in the top of the picture.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

A Review of GrammarPlanet

Grammar is not a favorite part of language arts learning for my kids.  We have tried several different curriculum and methods of teaching grammar over the years and have found some okay material, but nothing great that teaches everything that I think should be taught as a part of grammar.  This is why I was curious to see what GrammarPlanet was all about when we got a chance to review their online grammar program recently.  Not only did CJ and Missy learn about grammar with this online program, I got a chance to refresh my grammar skills too.
GrammarPlanet, A Glimpse of Normal
GrammarPlanet is an online, comprehensive grammar program.  It teaches grammar usage and proper punctuation while teaching students the mechanics of English.  It is designed for students ages 10 and up.  This means it can used with students who need to learn the basics, students who already know the basics, or even adults that just want to polish their grammar skills.  This online program currently offers 13 units to work through and they add more units weekly.  Eventually there will be a total of 60 units available to work on.  These units cover a variety of topics and while some students may work through them quickly, others will take longer.  That is okay though because there is no time limit to the lessons in the unit and students can work at their own pace until they master the material.  The program is designed so that it is responsive which means if your student is doing well they will have fewer practice questions in a lesson, if they need more work (which is totally fine) they get more practice questions to work on before all students eventually take a test on each unit.
A list of all the units that will be on the site.
Video instructions which were clear and precise.
Questions during the videos
Student notes
So I think the best way to tell you more about this program is to tell you in detail how we used it.  I set up my parent account first.  Then I received a link where I could set up my students in my parent dashboard area.  The parent dashboard is your hub for this online program.  On it you can see your student's progress, details of how they did on each unit, you can reset their progress if they need more work on a lesson, and you can unlock units if your students gets too many questions wrong.  I set up both CJ and Missy an account so they could work through this program.  I also set myself up a student account so that I could work through the lessons too without affecting their work.  Once I got everyone set up with their own account, it was time for us to get to work.  Each unit has a printable PDF of teaching notes and an instructional video.  I printed off the PDF for the kids so that they could have it to read and review while working. Then each of us watched the instructional video for the unit we were on.  We would watch this to see what concept was being introduced.  The video had specific points where it paused and asked a question about the portion you just watched.  The questions check for understanding.  In the video, Erin gives you the sequence for working in the practice questions.  This sequence helps you think about and find the correct parts of speech you are looking for.  It teaches you to analyze the sentence and really think about how the words are working in the sentence.  An example they gave in the notes was "Georges Seurat's artwork."  Typically students would see the capitals of Georges and Seurat's and think those words are proper nouns, but if you look closer you see they are actually adjectives because they describe the artwork.
Missy's highlighted student notes
Once we watched the full video, it was time to get to work on the practice questions.  At first glance we thought we would breeze through them, but the questions weren't always as easy as they looked if you tried to rush through.  If you slowed down and really thought about the parts of grammar the unit video taught on, then we consistently got answers right.  If your student gets too many questions wrong while working in the practice areas, the system will automatically lock the unit and you have to go into the parent/teacher account to unlock that unit for the student to try again.   This ended up being a good thing because it meant I knew when my students had really watched the video or if they were paying attention to it.  I had to unlock at least one level for each of us (myself included) and reset the progress on that level so that we could try it again.  After several rounds of practice questions, the number of questions depending on how well you did on them since this is a responsive system, there was a series of 5 test questions to check overall understanding of the unit.  The system keeps track of your progress and your grades so that made it even easier to use.  I could pop in to my parent/teacher dashboard and quickly get a glimpse of where everyone was at and how they were doing.  I could also click a specific student and  a specific unit to see an overall view of how they did and then I could even click the questions they got wrong to see what they missed.
This view in the dashboard told me which questions my student got wrong.

I received an email when my student(s) didn't do well on a unit and I needed to reset and unlock it.

A quick view of where CJ was a week or so ago.
Overall I really, really like this online curriculum for teaching my students grammar.  I think it is extremely thorough.  At first both kids were frustrated with the program, but it wasn't because it was a bad program, it was because it was a thorough program and unless they paid attention to the details of the instructional videos they couldn't pass the units.  Once they figured out that they couldn't just space out or do something else during the videos, they started doing really well on the units.  CJ is working on finishing up unit 5 this week.  He took extra time on a couple of the units because he was used to the way his old grammar book taught him about adjectives and pronouns.  This program teaches you the proper way to identify these things and once he got that, he did better.  Missy is working on finishing up unit 3.  I have not had her work on this every day, but just a few days a week instead.  Even though she has learned the basics of grammar, this program presents it in better detail and she has been taking her time processing it all.  Now that we are officially back to school, I will have both kids working every day on the program instead of just CJ working every day.  I also plan to work more in this program because I want to make sure I am grammatically correct since I do write a lot.  Neither of my kids mind using this program and I am seeing the things they already learned carry over into their writing for other subjects.  I definitely recommend checking out GrammarPlanet for your students especially because you can sign up for FREE!!!  Yes!  FREE!  There is a free version of GrammarPlanet that is supported through advertising.  They are also currently working on another version of GrammarPlanet that removes the advertising and it should be available soon.  Once it is available it will be just $39 for lifetime access to the ad free version of the program.  You can learn more about GrammarPlanet and all they have to offer on their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  You can also learn how my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew used this program by clicking on the banner below.
Grammar Program Online {GrammarPlannet Reviews}

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

A Review of 200 Essential Reading Skills for Fifth Grade from Reading Eggs

As a homeschool parent, I am always checking to see where my child's reading level is at.  I do this for both of my children, but especially for Missy since she is in fifth grade.  If she has any bad reading habits, issues with phonics, or comprehension, I want to fix those now not wait until she is older.  Missy loved using Reading Eggs last year so I was curious to see how their new workbooks would work when we received 200 Essential Reading Skills for Fifth Grade to review recently.  I also thought it would be a great tool for her to continue working on her reading comprehension skills.
Online Reading Eggs Suite
Online Reading Eggs Suite, A Glimpse of Normal
We learned last year when we got a chance to review Reading Eggs that it is an online learning website that is for children 2-13.  They offer different levels of learning to different age ranges of children.  For children ages 2-4, they offer Reading Eggs Junior.  This first steps program has games, books, and videos that build pre-reading skills and help get your child ready to read.  For children ages 4-7, they offer Reading Eggs.  This program helps get children ready for school with self paced lessons.  It teaches phonics, sight words, vocabulary, spelling, and comprehension to help your child learn to read and build their reading skills.  For children ages 7-13, they offer Reading Eggspress.  This part of the program focuses on reading comprehension, spelling, and vocabulary to build your child's reading skills and to help them understand what they read.  Reading Eggs also includes access to Mathseeds which is their math program.  It is for children ages 3-9.  It focuses on teaching core math skills and problem solving skills while being fun and interactive.  Reading Eggs has made a new addition to their programs with their new workbooks for all the levels of programs they offer.  Let me tell you more about them. 
Online Reading Eggs Suite, A Glimpse of Normal

Online Reading Eggs Suite, A Glimpse of Normal
We received the 200 Essential Reading Skills for Fifth Grade workbook that can be completed as a stand-alone 36 week curriculum.  It is designed to be used in about 15 minutes a day and includes comprehension, spelling, grammar, and review lessons.  It uses a weekly format that has two days of comprehension lessons, two days of spelling lessons, and one grammar lesson.  The review weeks have five pages of work and focus on one day of spelling, two days of grammar, and two days of comprehension.  The workbook also features a color coded table of contents, a year planner with a suggested schedule of use, and an answer key for the workbook.  Even though this workbook can be used alone, it becomes an even better learning tool when you pair it with the right level of Reading Express, which in the case of this Fifth Grade book is Reading Eggspress.  They have workbooks for reading for grades K-5 and for math for grades K-2.  The printed, consumable workbooks are available for just $19.95 each.
Online Reading Eggs Suite, A Glimpse of Normal
Missy loved getting access to Reading Eggs again.  Last year she was working in Reading Eggspress at a 4th grade level so she was eager to test again to work in the 5th grade level, which she eventually did after working on her skills during summer break.  When the printed workbook arrived, she got to work on it right away.  Day 1 of each week was a comprehension lesson.  She was required to read a short story or passage and then use the yellow tags to complete work in the story.   These yellow tags asked details about the story, had her look for parts of speech, and do some highlighting of important details.  Then she answered multiple choice questions about the story or passage.  Day 2 was another comprehension lesson.  Missy dug deeper into the same story she read on Day 1 (they print the story on each lesson that uses it since you mark it up).  Day 2's yellow boxes had her looking for the little details that you could easily miss at first glance of the story.  Then she had to answer questions on her own.  Day 3 she is when she learned a spelling rule and 20 spelling words that practiced that rule.  Missy also had to do work with the word list like sorting it, fill in the blanks, and naming the pictures using the spelling words.  Day 4 was more spelling work and 10 challenge words were introduced.  Then she had to work with these challenge words like solving the clues to figure out the word.  Sometimes on day 4 she had to get out the dictionary to help her learn the meaning of the challenge words so she could complete the work for them.  Day 5 had Missy working on Grammar.  She would learn a grammar concept and then put it to work throughout the rest of the page.  Missy liked working through the pages in the workbook.  She could work at her own pace and she said that working through the workbook was very similar to the type of work she did on the website.  Missy has completed 3 weeks of work in the workbook already and I will definitely have her continue working through this workbook this year because building reading skills is always a good thing.
Online Reading Eggs Suite, A Glimpse of Normal

Online Reading Eggs Suite, A Glimpse of Normal
I really like the new workbook for Reading Eggspress.  I think it does a great job of getting Missy to dig deeper and pay more attention so that she is reading for comprehension and not just surface reading.  I like that it can be used alone or with the online part of Reading Eggspress.  I was very thankful that Reading Eggs gave us a 3 month subscription to the online portion of Reading Eggspress so we can use it as well as the workbook.  The workbook and the website truly compliment each other and I like that Missy can reinforce her workbook usage with the online portion of the program.  I also appreciate how colorful and interactive the workbook is.  I definitely recommend the workbook and the website.  The website feels like Missy is playing a reading game and it keeps her engaged while learning.  The workbook challenges her to pay attention and dig deeper.
Online Reading Eggs Suite, A Glimpse of Normal
Check it out!  The story she is working on in Reading Eggspress, matches the story in her workbook pages.
You can learn more about the new workbooks by clicking here and the 200 Essential Reading Skills for Fifth Grade workbook by clicking here.  You can learn more about Reading Eggs and all they have to offer on their website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.  Reading Eggs has been very generous and is offering 10% off of workbooks and/or 4 weeks of Reading Eggs for Free.

  • Just in time for Back to School: 4 Weeks Free and 9 BRAND NEW Reading Eggs and Mathseeds workbooks! Purchase from the collection today and add to your child’s learning curriculum.
  • 4 Free Weeks Access and NEW 200 Essential Skills Reading and Math Workbooks!
  • Claim your workbook with this 10% off coupon code:  WK107HT2EDE

You can see what my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew have to say about Reading Eggs and the new workbooks by clicking the banner below.
Online Reading Eggs Suite {Reading Eggs Reviews}

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

School is in Session

Today marks the first official day of our 2018-2019 school year.  Of course we work on review work year round, but today we officially begin working on 10th grade and 5th grade.  Mae, the dog, well...she is repeating Pre-K due to some napping issues.  😂😆😂
A Glimpse of Normal, School is in Session

A Glimpse of Normal, School is in Session

A Glimpse of Normal, School is in Session

Happy New School Year!!!!