Thursday, November 15, 2018

Challenge Accepted!!!

I'm normally a pretty motivated person most of the time.  There are a few things I drag my feet on, but who really rushes to clean toilets and fold the laundry...certainly not me, but these things do get done every week.  So while I am a motivated person, I can be motivated above and beyond when I am given a good challenge.  Give me a good challenge and I become super motivated and hyper-focused.  Get out of the way this girl is on a mission!!!
Challenge Accepted, A Glimpse of Normal Blog
Now I bet you are wondering what the mission is and I would love to tell you all about it, but for now, I am going to be a little vague.  It isn't because I don't want to share my specific mission with you, but it is because it is a massive mission and I need to make sure it is even a possibility before I share specific details.  I can share that this challenge came from my Handsome Hubby.  We got to have an anniversary weekend where the grandparents kept the kids so that we could get away, except that we ended up having a staycation instead (more on that in tomorrow's post).  Anyway, during this time we got to talk...really talk and share our hearts with each other without interruptions from the kids and without input from the kids and without eavesdropping.  We got to have real, honest conversations and set down real, honest goals.  These talks may sound scary, but they were not at all.  They were talks we needed to have to make sure we were on the same page and working for the same goals.  Sometimes you just get busy in life and you are working on the same things, but working from different angles and it just works better to work from the same angle.

It was during these talks that I was sharing some ideas I had for things I want to do with Hubby and he was sharing some ideas he had that he popped up with his challenge for me.  I think that originally he was half joking with me, but the challenge just hit me and before I knew it I said...CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!!!!  He just looked at me and said, "Really?"  I turned and said, "You know better than to throw out the impossible as a challenge.  Those are my favorite kinds."  So our challenge was born and it is one that feels and looks a little impossible, but that just means I need to work harder and figure it all out.  All I know right now is it is a God-sized challenge and I have a BIG God so while everyone else would say it is impossible, I say...CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!!!  Let's do this!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

A Thank You and A Goodbye

Today's post is a very bittersweet one for me.  It is hard because there are so many things I will miss about it, but I am excited at the same time to see what God has for me in place of this.  Earlier this year I told you changes were coming.  One of the changes is that I will not be returning to the Homeschool Review Crew next year.  It was a very hard decision for me, but one that I felt I needed to make.
A Glimpse of Normal, A Thank You and A Goodbye
I have truly enjoyed my three years on the Homeschool Review Crew.  They picked me for the crew back when I didn't even think I had a chance of being picked.  The leadership of the Crew saw something in my blog and something in me that I didn't even know was there at the time.  When I started with the Crew I was at my wit's end with homeschooling and we had had a very rough fall semester and I felt like things just weren't going well for us.  I applied to the Crew and was accepted and we started receiving products to review.  It was the breath of fresh air our school needed.  I woke up and saw that I didn't have to stick to the same old especially when it wasn't working well for us.  It gave me the courage to try products that I may have passed over because I didn't know if they were what we needed.  We got to explore and dig into really fun products over the years.  We have found companies that we love and work well for our school.  We learned we can make changes and everything will be okay if we do.  The biggest thing I learned was that if something isn't working for us for school, it is okay to ditch it and find something that does work.

There are so many things I love about the Homeschool Review Crew.  It is a community of homeschool families that are dedicated, supportive, and encouraging.  There is a mix of homeschool styles represented and families with kids at every age and stage.  There are families on the Crew that have homeschooled for many years, ones that are new to homeschooling, and families that do both homeschool and public school.  The Crew is made up of families around the world.  The families on the Crew have become my friends and I will truly miss being a part of it because of the community and support even though I know I will keep in contact with my Crew friends. I will miss being able to go into our forum (the private board only the Crew can see) and share with them.  Getting to check out homeschool products was just the icing on the cake of being part of the Crew.  If you would like to apply to be part of the Homeschool Review Crew, they are currently taking applications for 2019.  It is an AMAZING thing to be a part of and even if you think you don't have a chance of being accepted, apply anyway.  Take a chance and put yourself out there.

So if I love so much of the Crew, why am I leaving?  Good question.  First and foremost, I have really felt like God has been calling me to bring our homeschool back into our home.  Yes, it has been in our home all along, but last year we did a co-op which required lots of extras and reviewing requires detailed usage and deadlines.  Neither of these are bad things at all, but they are an area that God has really had me re-prioritizing and showing me that it is time to take a break from them.  Second, CJ and Missy have asked for a break from the Crew.  Not only do I check out all the aspects of a review product, but they do the actual work if a product is for them.  This means they are rotating subjects they work on and the products they work with.  They are ready for a break from it.  I get it and am thankful they have been willing to help me review homeschool products for three years.  Last, I feel like God is calling me to something else.  I am not sure what that is right now, but I want some time to figure it out.  I am still going to be blogging regularly because I enjoy blogging and I always have something rolling around in my head to get out.

I can't say THANK YOU enough to the Homeschool Review Crew for the 3 years they allowed me to be part of the Crew.  I have loved it all and gotten so many amazing opportunities through it.  More importantly, I have made some AMAZING friends and I can't thank them enough for their love and support over the years.  Thank you Homeschool Review Crew!!!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Our Platinum Anniversary!

This year is a milestone year for us.  Today we celebrate 20 years of marriage.  20 years!!!

A Glimpse of Normal, Our Platinum Anniversary
Life hasn't always been easy for us.  We have had our share of our disagreements.  We've butted heads and dug our heels in.  But no matter what we have been determined.  We are determined to...
  • Put God first in our marriage
  • Keep our marriage pure
  • Focus on each other 
  • Make each other better
  • Work together
  • Never give up
  • Talk it out
  • Have fun
  • Enjoy the life God has given us
  • Raise a Godly family
  • Stand up for each other instead of tear each other down
  • Listen to each other
  • Be a helper to each other
  • Pray for each other
  • Take time for each other
  • Get along
  • Be on the same page
  • Grow old together
  • Not let the world get in our way
  • Love each other more every day
Before we got married, we determined that we wanted to love each other forever.  When we got married we promised to love each other forever.  Today I can tell you that we can't imagine not loving each other for forever.  God is good and He has blessed our marriage in so many ways even when we didn't deserve it.  There is no one I would rather have spent the last 20 years with than my amazing hubby and I am sure he would say the same about me.   We love our crazy life together and we look forward to many more years of adventures together.  Here are some pictures from the first 20 years (in no particular order)...
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A Glimpse of Normal

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A Glimpse of Normal

*A couple of these photos were taken by my gorgeous friend, Veronica @ Vintage V, LLC.

Monday, November 5, 2018

A Review of Master Kitz The Starry Night from Kidzaw.com

I am not an artist at all and because of this art is not my favorite subject to teach.  Missy loves art and anything to do with it.  So I am always on the lookout for ways to teach her about art without me having to try to paint or draw or sketch or well, you get the idea.  This is why I was very excited to add some homeschool art into our day when we received Master Kitz The Starry Night from Kidzaw.com to review recently.
A Glimpse of Normal, A Review of Master Kitz The Starry Night from Kidzaw.com
 
A Glimpse of Normal, A Review of Master Kitz The Starry Night from Kidzaw.com

A Glimpse of Normal, A Review of Master Kitz The Starry Night from Kidzaw.com
Kidzaw.com is on a mission to educate and inspire young artists.  They want to expose children to great master painters and teach them about art history while making art fun and engaging.  In order to accomplish this, they have designed several Master Kitz and a couple of Master Sculpz.  Master Kitz are designed so that your student, age 5 and up, can create their own art masterpiece.  Each kit includes everything you need to create a work of art along with a leaflet that teaches students about the original painting and the artist that created it.  The leaflet also includes step-by-step instructions for use.  Each kit sells for $29.99 on their website.  The Master Kitz The Starry Night that we received came packaged in a sturdy, reusable box and it also included 3 acrylic paints with colors specific to The Starry Night, 4 custom oil pastels, 1 van Gogh Roller (it is designed with van Gogh's brush stroke), 1 reusable Starry Night Cyprus Stencil, 1 standard paint roller, 2 sheets of deluxe art paper, 1 "Mesmerizing Stars" sticker sheet, and the leaflet with notes and instructions.  The acrylic paints included are white, black, and royal blue.  There is plenty in each bottle to use to create 2 paintings with the art paper included and have leftover paint.  We received orange, white, yellow, and blue oil pastels.  These spread nicely over the painting when Missy colored hard or light and when she smudged the color with her fingers.  The van Gogh Roller was one of Missy's favorite parts because she has never seen one like it before.  This foam roller is designed to make van Gogh's swirls that he made in The Starry Night.  She also liked the "Mesmerizing Stars" stickers because you can peel them back up off the paper and reuse them.  She didn't think they would be sticky enough to reuse, but they have plenty of tacky to use many more times.  The art paper included is heavy duty and thick.  This means if you get a little too much paint, it won't rip or tear.  That was a really nice bonus of this kit because once the painting is dry, the paper is sturdy enough that you could hang it as it is and it would not get damaged.
A Glimpse of Normal, A Review of Master Kitz The Starry Night from Kidzaw.com

A Glimpse of Normal, A Review of Master Kitz The Starry Night from Kidzaw.com
Missy loved creating her masterpiece for fun with this kit.  She took the instructions, did the work step by step (adding her own touches of course) and took care of all the clean up too.  She loved that it was easy for her to follow the directions on her own and that she didn't need me there telling her what to do.  She also loved that she could either make the project exactly to the directions or she could put her own special touches on her painting to make it unique.  Of course,  Missy added her own details and made her project resemble The Starry Night, but ultimately it was her own version.  She also loved that she could do this project in stages and not have to hurry through it all.  She was super excited about her final painting and we love how it turned out.  We can see both Missy in it and the original The Starry Night.
A Glimpse of Normal, A Review of Master Kitz The Starry Night from Kidzaw.com

A Glimpse of Normal, A Review of Master Kitz The Starry Night from Kidzaw.com

A Glimpse of Normal, A Review of Master Kitz The Starry Night from Kidzaw.com

A Glimpse of Normal, A Review of Master Kitz The Starry Night from Kidzaw.com

A Glimpse of Normal, A Review of Master Kitz The Starry Night from Kidzaw.com
I love that this masterpiece art kit was so easy to use.  I didn't have to try to teach a lesson that I didn't know much about but we could still learn a lot about Vincent van Gogh because of the notes included.  We learned about van Gogh's life, his art style, and Post-Impressionism style of art with the notes included in this kit.  It was nice to be able to look through these notes with Missy so we could learn some of the backgrounds of both the artist and style before she tried her hand at creating a masterpiece.  I also loved that everything we needed for the project (other than tape and a clothing coverup) was included in the kit.  I didn't have to purchase any costly extra items that we may or may not use in the future.  There is even a second page to create a second painting and plenty of supplies leftover to do so.  Also, all the rollers are easy to clean so they can be used again.  That is a plus in my book.
A Glimpse of Normal, A Review of Master Kitz The Starry Night from Kidzaw.com
This Master Kitz was a lot of fun for Missy to use and we love the beautiful painting she created with it.  I am on the hunt for the perfect frame to showcase it.  We definitely recommend the Master Kitz The Starry Night from Kidzaw.com if you have a budding artist or want to add some homeschool art to your home.  We will also be checking out the other kits they have to offer since Missy loved this kit so much.  You can learn more about the Master Kitz The Starry Night we received by clicking here.  You can learn more about Kidzaw.com by checking out their website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.  You can also see how the paintings from the kids on the Homeschool Review Crew turned out by clicking on the banner below to read their reviews.
Master Kitz The Starry Night {Kidzaw.com Reviews}

Thursday, November 1, 2018

A Review Balancing Diapers and Deadlines from Lisa Tanner Writing

As a busy mom, wife, blogger, and homeschool teacher I find myself often struggling to balance everything that I have going on.  I want to have it all together all of the time, but the reality is that I just don't.  I am always on the lookout for ways to fix this issue which is why I was curious to see what Balancing Diapers and Deadlines from Lisa Tanner Writing was all about when I got the chance to review it recently.
Balancing Diapers and Deadlines
Lisa Tanner knows a lot about finding the balance between work and family.  She is a busy mom of 8 children.  She homeschools, freelances, and is a virtual assistant in addition to all the other roles she has.  She has a heart for helping other moms who want to create their own businesses which is why she created the Balancing Diapers and Deadlines course.  This course is available for just $50 and once you purchase it, you receive immediate access.  Balancing Diapers and Deadlines contains over 30 lessons that are divided into units that help you take control of your life so that it doesn't feel like chaos anymore.  This course uses Lisa's tried and true methods to be more productive, integrate your family into your business, manage your time more effectively,  and has many hints and tips for day to day family life.  It also includes many downloadable worksheets, links to extra posts Lisa has written that accompany the lessons, and action steps for every lesson.  You can check off each lesson you complete and each unit once the lessons are done.  The units included are:
  • Welcome to Balancing Diapers and Deadlines
  • Building Your Foundation with the Basics
  • Minimize Your Decisions
  • Minimize Your Decisions: The Annual Meal Plan
  • Sustainable Growth
  • Growing a Business with Your Kids Around
  • Boost Your Productivity
  • Closing Thoughts
This course is designed so that you work at your own pace through the materials.  Some of the units will take longer than others to complete because Lisa asks some deep, thought-provoking questions about what you want and the direction you want to go in and these take time to think through.  There are also assignments that you will want to discuss and make family decisions about so they may take a few days.  
Lisa Tanner Writing
Let's get honest here a moment.  When I first looked at the title of this course, I wasn't sure it was for me because we have been past diapers for a long time in our house, but the balancing deadlines part, who can't use that?  I know that balancing everything I have going can be my weakness so I went into this course with open eyes and knowing that there might be parts of it that don't apply since I don't have itty bitty kids anymore.  Honestly, I am very happy that I didn't just brush this one off because of the title.  This course has so much valuable information, lots of things to ponder, and just using the extra downloads included, have already started helping me balance life better.  The course is designed to help you build an at home business while you raise your family and there are so many tips, ideas, steps and hints that Lisa gives that you can totally find a place to start building your own business.  Personally, I found through reading the units and lessons that this course is a starting place for me to get my daily, crazy, busy life balanced out while I take the time to decide what kind of business I want to build.  I already have my blogging which I love and want to grow so of course part of me is applying all I learned through this course to the "behind the scenes" of my blog so that I can grow it and make it better.  But I know that when my kids are out of school and I am not homeschooling anymore, there is something more that I want to do.  So I used this course to start pondering that, what is it that I want to do as a business when I am done homeschooling.  Looking at it from this perspective is going to help me decide what I need to be doing to set up this future business now.  I can get my life balanced and in order now to help me with my future endeavors so that when I get it all figured out, it is a matter of plugging it into my daily life and not rearranging my daily life to try and make it fit.
A Glimpse of Normal
One of the lessons asked me to list the absolute "must do" of each day.

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Lisa also talked about recurring questions and how these suck up time.  It was a great lesson to think about.
My favorite parts of this course were the goal setting, daily planning, menu planning, and time management lessons.  The goal setting helped me narrow down some of my current goals for my blog and it also helped me think about some goals that I have for a future business.  Knowing what I want to achieve will help me know where I need to start and what I need to do to reach my goals.  Daily planning is something I do anyway, but Lisa had a "new to me" spin on it.  She talked a lot about getting the kids involved with the daily planning, having quick morning meetings to chat about the daily plan, and having a place where everyone can see the plan.  In the past, I have been pretty good about coming up with a daily plan, but I haven't always shared this plan with my kids unless we have appointments we have to be at or errands to run.  Now I have been working on communicating the daily plan with everyone (dad too even though he is at work during the day so he knows what we have going too) that way the kids know what is expected, what we need to get done each day, and even what the next day or two looks like.  I have been trying to let them help me plan out the days some and we usually discuss what tomorrow will look like before bedtime because that is when everyone is home.  Changing this little detail has really helped the dynamic in our house.  My kids tended to get frustrated when they thought we got to stay home all day and I knew we had something we had to do so they were getting a surprise to their routine.  I didn't think they cared all that much, but it was affecting them.  Now we are better prepared for it and they can make sure they finish all they need to in the right time.  If you read my blog, you know that menu planning is important to me.  Lisa takes it a step further and plans annual menus.  That was intriguing and inspiring to me.  She included examples of her annual menu plans and some downloads of her theme menus and annual menus.  I was able to use these to add to my menu planning that I already do and it has helped me think a little further out.  Also her "Master Shop List" download is amazing and is something that I will definitely be implementing in my menu planning and budgeting.  The biggest part of this course that I have been able to use and benefitted from has been time management.  Lisa called it "Productivity" and "Sustainable Growth", but for me, they were time management lessons.  I can be my own worst enemy when it comes to time.  I either try to fit in too many things or I get overwhelmed and just give up.  Working through this course has helped me get a better grip on it all so that I am not at opposite ends of the spectrum.  It is okay to have downtime and we need it.  It is okay to schedule a time where you are not working on your business.  There are things you can do to set your day up to be more productive.  It is okay to give your kids age-appropriate chores so that you don't have to do every little thing in your house and you can have a few minutes to work.  Reading through the course, applying some of the changes Lisa suggested, and not feeling guilty for not being the one to do everything has helped me immensely.  I honestly could go on and on about other tips, tricks, and ideas I got from this course, but then you wouldn't need to check it out for yourself.
A Glimpse of Normal
Here is a list of the themed dinners we eat.  I can quickly glimpse at this and plug meals into our menu plan with this cheat sheet.  It is just one of the downloads for the course.
I definitely recommend Balancing Diapers and Deadlines for anyone that wants to run a business.  I know it is targeted to moms who are in the midst of raising a family, but I think it applies to anyone who wants to run any kind of business.  There is a lot to digest and even though I worked through the course once, I will definitely work through it again as I narrow down my goals to help keep me on track.  You can learn more about the Balancing Diapers and Deadlines course that I received by clicking here.  You can learn more about Lisa Tanner Writing on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.  You can also read about what my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew learned from this course by clicking on the banner below to read their reviews.
Balancing Diapers and Deadlines {Lisa Tanner Writing Reviews}

November 2018 Menu Plan

This fall has been a whirlwind so far.  I wish I could say that would change, but since November is already here that means the year will be over before we know it.  Crazy to think about right?  At least for me, it is.  November brings great things for our family.  Election day is coming - GO VOTE!!!  Hubby and I celebrate 20 years of marriage - WOO HOO!!!  There are many extended family members with birthdays this month - Happy Birthday Josh, Kelsey, Luke, and Uncle Stan!  We also look forward to our extra hour of sleep thanks to daylight savings time and Thanksgiving among other things.  Since this month will fly by for us and I am sure it will for you too, I decided to go ahead and plan out the entire month's menu at once this month.  Just being honest and real, there will be no good mid-point this month for me to put up a second part of the menu and it was easier to just sit down and get it all planned out at once.  So without further ado, here is what is for dinner at our house this month.
A Glimpse of Normal, November 2018 Menu Plan, Free Printable
  1. Parmesan Meatloaf
  2. Sausage, Pepper, & Onion Pizza Hoagies
  3. Enchilada Style Burritos
  4. Mississippi Pot Roast
  5. Corned Beef & Cabbage
  6. Ultimate White Chicken Chili
  7. Steak & Cheesy Bacon Potato Hash Foil Packs
  8. One Pan Skillet Lasagna
  9. Easy Pizza Sliders
  10. Creamy Broccoli, Chicken, & Bacon Fettucini
  11. Pastitsio - Greek Macaroni Pie
  12. Easy Sheet Pan Philly Cheesesteak
  13. Beef Enchilada Slow Cooker Soup
  14. Cajun Dirty Rice
  15. Cheesy Garlic, Sausage, & Bacon Carbonara
  16. Copycat Imo's St. Louis Style Pizza
  17. Crispy Southwest Chicken Skillet Burritos
  18. Slow Cooker Tater Tot Casserole
  19. Baked Ravioli Casserole
  20. Moroccan Meatball & Couscous Soup
  21. Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers
  22. Brined & Smoked Turkey
  23. Supreme Pizza Casserole
  24. Black Bean & Rice Veggie Tacos
  25. Italian Drip Beef
  26. Cheesy Beef & Potatoes Casserole
  27. Beef & Lentil Stew
  28. Chili & Cornbread Skillet
  29. Italian Deli Crazybread
  30. Crockpot Crustless Pizza
As always you can find recipes for these meals on my November Menu Plan board on Pinterest.  There are lots of other meals on this board too so that you can swap out meals that your family won't eat.  Once I add a meal to this Pinterest board, I leave it on there for ideas and swap meals.  I hope my menu plans help you out.  What is for dinner this month at your house?

I updated my FREE printable menu planner so that you can print it and fill it in with your meals.  since I am giving you the whole month at once this month, you will need to print off extra copies so you have enough planning space for the whole month.  Let me know if you use it and like it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A Review of Math-Whizz from Whizz Education

If you read this blog regularly, then you know without a doubt that I will always encourage my kids to build their math skills.  I believe that a solid math foundation is a key to success in upper levels of math.  This is why I was excited to find out what Math-Whizz from Whizz Education was all about when we got the chance to review it recently.
Math Whizz
Whizz Education is a company that has been around for over 14 years.  They are on a mission to help children around the world in public schools, private schools, and homeschools improve their math skills through individualized learning.  They do this by creating a learning experience that is tailored to each individual student so that they are learning the material they need to learn at their own pace.  It is like a one on one tutoring session for each child.
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Missy can see the time she is spending on Math-Whizz as she logs in.
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Math-Whizz even offers this printable planner we could fill out to make goals for Missy.
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Tutoring lesson on the Likelihood of an Event
Math-Whizz is virtual math tutoring for students in grades K-8.  You can purchase a monthly subscription ($12 per month) or annual subscription ($124 per year) to their services for homeschoolers.  You can add another child to either subscription for an extra fee if you have more than one student using this program.  After you get your parent account set up, you set up your student with their own password so that the parent dashboard and student work area is separate.  This program starts with a very thorough assessment test so that it can figure out your child's math age and exactly what they know.  Don't worry if they see a concept that is totally new to them on the assessment because there is a button they can click that tells Math-Whizz that they have not learned this yet.  After the assessment, Math-Whizz determines your child's math age and then builds tutoring sessions (lessons) to help them build their skills, learn new skills, and polish up the ones they already know.  This site also has games and challenges that your student can play to build and practice their math skills.   Math-Whizz recommends that your student uses their program about 60 minutes per week which sounds like a lot, but if your student is like mine once they are working on the lessons they won't want to quit.  By working on their program for just 60 minutes a week, Math-Whizz has seen the average math age of students improve by 18 months in a year.  Every student gets lessons personalized to what they need to work on and learn for math.  You can see their progress every step of the way on the parent dashboard and through the feedback email, you receive from Math Whizz.
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Missy received a 12-month subscription to Math-Whizz so that we could review their program.  I got her account all set up for her and got her logged in so she could take their math assessment.  The assessment took her a couple of days to complete because Missy decided to do a little bit of it each day instead of doing it all at once.  Once she finished the assessment, she had a math age of 10.15 which tells me she working right at grade level.  The assessment told me that she is very good at Pencil and Paper math and I totally agree with them.  It also said that Missy needs more attention in Properties of Numbers which I would also agree with.  Sometimes she struggles to see the relationships between numbers and why you do what you do with them.  So this is what Math-Whizz has had her working on in her tutoring sessions, games, and challenges.  It has given her various lessons to teach her the properties of numbers.  She has worked on grouping, military time, number patterns, and more.  She can clearly see how much time she has worked in the program, the bonuses she will earn if she completes a certain number of minutes on the site, and what her tutoring lesson is in her dashboard.  She can go into her "Study" which is set up like a student desk area and access her lessons, see a report of how she is doing, access a topic bank that she can work on, see the credits she has so she can "purchase" reward items for her study, and more.  Missy loves customizing her Study to fit her style.  Missy likes the tutoring lessons, but her favorite part of this program is the games and challenges.  She is a competitive girl so she loves a good challenge and loves to play in this part of the program to compete.  I love that she is building her math skills while even playing in this area.  Everything in the program is designed to help your student learn and I totally appreciate that.
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The parent dashboard is very user-friendly and contains lots of detailed reports so that you know exactly how your child is doing.  I got notifications when Missy was doing good logging in and playing the games, but she wasn't doing the tutoring sessions as much as the games.  So I had to have her work on balancing that.  I can see exactly what concepts she has struggled with so far and it even shows me how I can give her extra instruction to help her through the struggles.  I can preview what she will work on, see what she has completed, and get reports that break down everything for me.  Missy is currently at math age 10.19 which shows me that she is improving and I can wait to see how much more she will improve as she continues to use this site.  I also like that I get super detailed emails from them on her progress both good and bad.  It is a very, very thorough website and program.
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A detailed report from the parent dashboard
Like I said up above, Missy starts working on Math-Whizz and does not want to stop.  It is teaching her the lessons, but it is entertaining, interactive, and does not feel like work to her.  I love this part of the program.  I love that she doesn't complain when I have Math-Whizz listed in her assignments.  I usually only put it down for 3 days each week, but every week I have found her in there every day.  If I don't have it in her schedule, she will ask me if she can work on it.  I tell her to go ahead because I definitely want her building her math skills any way she can.  This program works for her because she wants to work on it.  She has found that she can earn rewards, personalize her work area, and have fun learning.  All of this is a win in my book and I will definitely consider continuing our subscription once it ends.  Math-Whizz is designed to be a supplement to whatever math your student is working on.  It is not a full math curriculum, but a tutoring service that helps build math skills.  I am noticing that since Missy has been working on Math-Whizz, her regular math work is easier for her and even when she is presented with new concepts in her regular math she is grasping them faster.
A Glimpse of Normal
This was a quick overview of progress she had made in some lessons.  You can quickly see what she needs to work on more.
We definitely recommend checking out all that Math-Whizz has to offer if you have a student in grades K-8 or a student struggling with math especially since they offer a free trial.  You can learn more about Math-Whizz here and you can check them out on Facebook.  You can learn more about Whizz Education on their website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+.  You can also see how my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew used their Math-Whizz subscriptions and the results their students are seeing by clicking on the banner below to check out their reviews.
Math-Whizz {Whizz Education Reviews}

Monday, October 29, 2018

41 Before 41

Last year after my birthday I created a "bucket list" of things I wanted to do before my next birthday which was just this last week.  I turned 40 and I can honestly tell you that age is a matter of how old you feel and act.  I don't feel 40 and most days I don't act 40.  The number doesn't bother me, it's just a number.  Anyway, last year I really enjoyed having my "bucket list" of items that I could try and accomplish in a year so I thought it would be fun to create another one.  Putting it on my blog is just a way to keep my list in one place so I don't lose it and it gives me a visual of what I want to work on in the course of a year.  I hope to do a little better on my list this year than I did last year since I feel like I didn't actually accomplish much of my list last year.  This year has some new items and some old items because I still want to accomplish some of the things I didn't get done last year.
A Glimpse of Normal, 41 Before 41
  1. Become a runner.  Yes, I still want to accomplish this.  It is a life goal.
  2. Create a better filing system in our house and stick to it.
  3. Freshen up my sewing skills.
  4. Teach my daughter to sew.
  5. Remodel our bathroom.
  6. Finish decluttering the boxes in the basement.
  7. Craft more consistently.
  8. Bake something at least once a week.
  9. Start a school portfolio for my son (the best of the best work).
  10. Start a school portfolio for my daughter.
  11. Lose 20 pounds.
  12. Finish decorating our house.
  13. Read/listen to more books.
  14. Watch less television.
  15. Follow the FlyLady System - It is what works for me and I know it, so I don't know why I don't stick to it more.
  16. Spend more time with friends.
  17. Blog regularly.
  18. Create more recipes.
  19. Organize my craft supplies.
  20. Save more money.
  21. Declutter, declutter, declutter.
  22. Plan out and landscape our flowerbeds.
  23. Start exercising regularly.
  24. Finish 2 cross stitch patterns.
  25. Try 10 crochet patterns.
  26. Put up more pictures.
  27. Start writing a book..
  28. Enter projects in a fair.
  29. Clean out all of our email accounts.
  30. Learn a new cake decorating skill.
  31. Do a family photo shoot.
  32. Say NO to unnecessary stress.
  33. Go on more dates with my hubby.
  34. Expand my menu planning to include breakfast and lunch too.
  35. Create master lists for our house.  
  36. Host more game nights.
  37. Take better care of me.
  38. Do something for me at least once a week - paint my nails, spend extra time crafting, etc.
  39. Try 50 of things I have pinned on Pinterest.
  40. Grow my blog.
  41. Enjoy every moment.
So there it is.  My "bucket list" for the next year.  I hope to do better on this one than I did last year.  I am hoping you will check in with me from time to time and help keep me accountable.  What do you want to accomplish in the next year?

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Update on: 40 Before I Turn 40

Here I am a 40-year-old!  I made it!!!  God has blessed me with another year and I am grateful for every breath he gives me.  Last year after my birthday I wrote this post: 40 Before I Turn 40.  It is a list of things I wanted to do before I turned 40.  I thought it would be great to come back and tell you how I did on my list.  Below you will see my original list and beside it, I will post an update.
A Glimpse of Normal, Update, 40 before I turn 40
  1. Become a runner. - I did not become a runner.  I did get very good at walking and just recently I have been adding in small bits of running.  
  2. Go through all of our paper clutter and file it or get rid of it.  - Fail
  3. Freshen up my sewing skills. - Partial fail - I have done some sewing, but I have not freshened up all my skills.
  4. Teach my daughter to sew. - She can sew a straight line on a sewing machine and she does have an embroidery project started.  I definitely want to teach her more...lots more.
  5. Remodel our kitchen - Not yet
  6. Go through all the boxes in the basement. - We have gone through about 1/2 of them.
  7. Learn new crafting techniques. - I have learned new crochet stitches.
  8. Bake something at least once a week. - Fail
  9. Start a school portfolio for my son (the best of the best work). - Fail
  10. Start a school portfolio for my daughter. - Fail
  11. Lose 20 pounds. - Fail
  12. Finish decorating our house. - I am not done decorating our house yet by far, but I have done more decorating than I had done at this time last year.
  13. Read more books. - Check
  14. Watch less television. - Check
  15. Create and stick to a cleaning schedule. - Fail
  16. Spend more time with friends. - Fail - I have spent time with friends, but then we got crazy, stupid busy and I feel like we haven't gotten to hang out with our friends much since summer.
  17. Blog more. - Check
  18. Create more recipes. - Check - I have created more, I just haven't gotten them all on the blog.
  19. Organize my craft supplies. - Fail - many of them are in the boxes that we haven't been through in the basement.
  20. Save more money. - Fail - I have done well not making impulse buys, but we did put in a pole barn, put in concrete around the barn, and other projects around the house that have used up some cash.  
  21. Declutter, declutter, declutter. - Check
  22. Plan out and landscape our flowerbeds. - Epic Fail...unless weeds count.
  23. Stop procrastinating. - Check and fail - it totally depends on the task.
  24. Finish 2 cross stitch patterns. - Epic Fail - I have spent more time crocheting than cross stitching.
  25. Design a crochet pattern. - Fail 
  26. Put up more pictures. - Check, but I do still have more to put up.
  27. Run in a race. - Fail...see number 1.
  28. Enter projects in a fair. - Check 
  29. Clean out all of our email accounts. - Fail
  30. Learn a new cake decorating skill. - Check 
  31. Do a family photo shoot. - Fail
  32. Learn to take better pictures. - Fail, although I did get our camera repaired.
  33. Go on more dates with my hubby. - Check, most of our dates included the home improvement store, but hey, it counts.
  34. Expand my menu planning to include breakfast and lunch too.  - Fail
  35. Top Secret Backyard Project. - Fail
  36. Start writing a book. - Fail
  37. Create master lists. - Fail
  38. Do something for me at least once a week - paint my nails, spend extra time crafting, etc. - Check
  39. Try 40 of things I have pinned on Pinterest. - Check
  40. Enjoy every moment. - Fail - I try to enjoy every moment, but sometimes I let frustration get the best of me.
I am glad that I made a list of the goals I wanted to accomplish before I turned 40.  I didn't get them all done, but that is okay.  Some things take more time than others and I know what I can work on in the next year.  Even though I didn't get many of the things on my list done this last year.  I still had an AMAZING year.  I got to see God at work several times over the last year.  It is amazing to see how He works things out.  We got to go to New York.  We went to Unity Fest.  We camped with friends.  We spent time with extended family.  We worked around the house.  There were so many other things too.  It has been a great year and even though I failed to enjoy every moment (mostly because I am human and have bad days too), God's blessings were in every day of the year.  I look forward to what this year will bring me.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Happy Birthday Cassandra!!!

Today help us as we celebrate Cassandra.  Not only is it her birthday, but it is also her 40th birthday.  We, her family, are excited for what God has in store for her this year.  You get to catch a glimpse of her here and there on the blog, but we see so much more than you do.  Cassandra loves God, serves her family, her church, and loves helping.  She loves her family and friends fiercely.  She loves crafts, blogging, baking, and cooking.  She loves to read, watch movies, and listen to music.  She loves our life in the boonies in our dream barn.  This year we pray for many blessings for her.
A Glimpse of Normal, Happy Birthday Cassandra
Happy Birthday Cassandra!!!

Love,
Mister Man, CJ, and Missy

Friday, October 19, 2018

Friday Fun - A Quick Trip

Happy Friday!!!  Today I thought I would share about a fun, quick trip we took recently.  CJ loves a good demo derby.  That is his favorite thing about any local fair that has them.  Who doesn't love watching cars crash on purpose and cheering them on?  This year at one of the local fairs the company running the demo derby talked about their BIG end of the season derby that was coming up.  It seems every year we have heard about this huge demo derby and CJ has wanted to check it out, but we have had things going and couldn't go.  This year it worked for us to go and it was a lot of fun.  We don't normally do spur of the moment trips, but this one worked and we thought it would be a fun time for everyone.  So off to Gaylord Michigan we went for a big demo derby and to see what else we could find.  Here are some of the pictures from our weekend there...
A Glimpse of Normal, Friday Fun
To qualify they have to do a "Bump and Run" heat in their class.  They can hit each other and flip cars, etc.

A Glimpse of Normal, Friday Fun

A Glimpse of Normal, Friday Fun

A Glimpse of Normal, Friday Fun

A Glimpse of Normal, Friday Fun

A Glimpse of Normal, Friday Fun
Sorry for the blurry photo, it was from my phone, but you needed to see a good crash.
A Glimpse of Normal, Friday Fun
They also did a burnout competition.  Pink smoke filled the air.
A Glimpse of Normal, Friday Fun
It was cold and raining the one day of the event and we looked over as we were parking to see a gorgeous rainbow.

A Glimpse of Normal, Friday Fun
Walking around town, we found this really awesome monument.
A Glimpse of Normal, Friday Fun
We also learned that Gaylord was famous for it's Gaylord Car.  

A Glimpse of Normal, Friday Fun
This was a cool painting on one of the buildings around town.
A Glimpse of Normal, Friday Fun
We had to eat while we were there.  If you are in Gaylord, MI check out the Iron Pig Smokehouse.  This was their Iron Pig sandwich and it is honestly one of the best burgers I have ever had.  Bacon, hamburger, pulled pork....mmmm.....
 We took just a quick trip to see the two-day demo derby, but it was a lot of fun.  Gaylord is a pretty cool little town and the derby was worth the trip even though it was freezing.  We would definitely go back.