Sunday, December 31, 2017

Thanks for 2017!!!

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

Cassandra and family

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

2017 Faith Wrap-Up

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

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

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

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

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

Homeschool Review Crew Weekly Link Up

Saturday, December 23, 2017

2017 Baking Day Cookies

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about our Holiday Traditions.  One of our traditions is to have a baking day and then we deliver the goodies we bake to neighbors and friends.  So I thought today I would share with you the treats we made.  This year we kept it pretty simple and quick, but there were very delicious.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, Baking Day Cookies, Treats

1.  Cinnamon Pebbles Rice Krispy Treats - For the last few years we have done cereal treats in our goodie packs.  We love to make ours in all kinds of flavors.  This year we found some Cinnamon Pebbles cereal that we mixed in with our Rice Krispies cereal to make them flavored.
2.  Buckeyes - This is a family favorite of ours.  They are pretty easy to make and hard to keep my family out of so there are enough to give away.
3.  Sour Cream Cut-Out Cookies - This is our go to recipe that I posted on the blog several years ago.  I am not a chill the dough kind of girl and this recipe doesn't have to be chilled.  They are the perfect mix of sweet, but not too sweet cookie and then you can choose the frosting you put on them.
4.  Chocolate Oatmeal No Bake Cookies - These are out other favorite.  I do cheat and instead of dropping them into individual cookies, I pour them in a cake pan to cool.  Once they are cooled I cut them into squares since we make double batches of them for giving away.
5.  Saltine Toffee - We have always called this Cracker Candy, but it is another super easy one.  You can also change it up by adding different kinds of chips with the chocolate chips.  Sometimes I do a mix of peanut butter chips and chocolate chips.  This year for one batch I mixed chocolate chips and cinnamon chips, it was pretty tasty.
6.  No Bake Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars - This was a new one for us this year, but it was very tasty.  It is pretty rich and reminded us for fudge.
7.  Rolo Pretzel Bites - These taste like chocolate turtles with a little extra crunch.  They are super simple and take hardly any time to make.
Those are the treats we made this year.  We delivered 15 goodie trays and have taken baked goods to a couple of events.  Baking is therapy and sharing means we don't eat it all.  Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Magic Stix Washable Markers - The Perfect Last Minute Gift for Artists

We love creating all kinds of art in our house using all kinds of mediums from colored pencils to paint to markers and more.  Every once in awhile we get so busy creating, that we forget to close the product we were using to create our art especially with markers and it bums us out that they dry out.  I hate having to throw markers away because they dry out, it seems like such a waste of money.
Magic Stix Washable Markers, The Pencil Grip Inc., Giveaway, 7 Day Guarantee
If you follow my blog you know that we are huge fans of The Pencil Grip, Inc. and their entire Kwik Stix line.  Their Kwik Stix are tempura paint markers that are quick drying and so much less mess when it comes to painting.  Today we are SUPER excited to tell you about The Pencil Grip, Inc.'s latest product MAGIC STIX WASHABLE MARKERS!!!!
Magic Stix Washable Markers are guaranteed to not dry out for 7 days with the cap off.  They come in bright, classic colors and are non-toxic.  They don't have an odor and they come in their own locking carrying case.  The name says it, but as a mom, I know it is worth telling you again...they are washable!  I love that The Pencil Grip, Inc. is helping me make craft time fun without all the messes.  These Magic Stix come in both 12 and 24 packs.  They can be purchased right on Amazon.
The Pencil Grip, Inc. was kind enough to send us a Magic Stix Washable Markers 12 pack to try out so that we could tell you all about it.  We have put the 7 day guarantee to the test and today is day 9 with the cap off.  Guess what?  Our brown marker is still working perfectly and has just as much color as ever.  This makes me so happy!!!  I don't have to throw away these markers if the cap gets left off.  I can trust they will keep on working with plenty of great color and we won't be stuck with partial sets of markers anymore.  The 12 pack of markers come in black, brown, dark purple, light purple, dark blue, light blue, dark green, light green, orange, yellow, pink, and red.

My daughter and I have been trying out the makers on a variety of projects.  We have used them on both paper and canvas.  They worked wonderful on both surfaces.  The markers go on smooth, don't smear once they are dry, and have a nice bright color to them.  You can color a second layer on the projects to make the colors darker if you want to, but you don't have to.  We LOVE these markers.  We love how bright the colors are, the variety of colors, and how smooth they write.  We also love that they are pointed so that you can get in small places with them.  Little Miss had fun coloring with them and I had fun writing with them.  You can write light for a lighter color or apply more pressure when writing for it to be darker.  These Magic Stix would be the perfect last minute gift or stocking stuffer for the artist in your family.  You can purchase them here.
Magic Stix on paper....look at these gorgeous colors!!!
We went over the dark green a second time just to see how it would turn out.
This is the brown color that we have been testing.  I added it to the coloring just today after sitting out open for 9 days.  It is just as colorful as the day we got it.
This is using the markers on canvas.
Not only was The Pencil Grip, Inc. was kind enough to send us a Magic Stix Washable Markers 12 pack to try out, but they want to give one of my readers a 12 pack of their own.  Follow the directions below in the giveaway box to be entered to win.  Hurry the giveaway ends December 23, 2017.
*This post does contain Amazon affiliate links.  This means if you do purchase through the links I used, I will earn a small commission.

Friday, December 15, 2017

What to Ask For...Christmas Edition

I know that many of you hard working mamas are just like me and you have a tough time thinking of what to ask for when it comes to Christmas.  Of course there are things you would like to have and things you don't need, but they would be fun to get, but I am talking about some practical items.  Hubby and I always try to keep our Christmas gifts to each other pretty practical that way we don't fill our house with stuff.  So I have been thinking about the things I use them most around my house that I could share with you.  I don't know that all of these items would arrive before Christmas, but they are some of the things I use them most.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, What to Ask For, Christmas
1. An Instant Pot - My Instant Pot is the kitchen gadget that I thought was just a fad, but I would try it on a whim and now I can't live without it gadget.  (How was that for a sentence?)  I really, really, really love this kitchen gadget.  Why?  It is my go to tool on those days we get busy with school and errands and I forget to pull the meat out of the freezer. You can put frozen meat in the Instant Pot and still get dinner done in 40 minutes or so.  It was also so convenient to have when we were in the middle of moving because the lid locks.  I would throw our dinner in it, we would jump in the car and drive to the new house, I plugged it in and set if for the time it needed, and we would work until it beeped.  Then we would get dinner and keep working.  You can cook boiled eggs, soup, meat, rice, veggies, desserts, and more in it.  I would say that I do 40-50% of my cooking in my instant pot.

2.  A Membership to MyFreezEasy - In the past I have thought about freezer cooking a lot.  That would be so handy to pull a meal out and just have to heat it, but my drawback was the day spent prepping and freezing all the food.  Then I tried MyFreezEasy and I was hooked.  She makes it super easy to pick the meal plan that works best for your family, gives you shopping lists, and tells you everything to do step by step.  I am planning on a big freezer cooking day over Christmas break and I will be using my MyFreezEasy membership to get it all done.  I so need freezer meals for gymnastics night because lessons are right around dinner time.  So either we eat way early or way late.  If I had a freezer meal, the boys could eat at normal time and us girls could eat as soon as we got home.

3.  A Membership to - I normally say if you are a homeschool family this site is for you, but you know what if you have a child that is school age this site is for you.  We use it a ton because we homeschool and there are HUNDREDS of lessons on here that the membership gives us access to.  When I really think about it, public school kids could use this site too for extra work in subjects they need help in, to work ahead, or just to explore subjects they don't get in school.  In addition to the hundreds of different lessons, SchoolhouseTeachers memberships now include access to World Book and this is huge.  There are tons of great lessons in World Book (as in the encyclopedia) and they are lot of fun.  SchoolhouseTeachers also has tons of amazing parent resources and lots of encouragement.  I use our membership all the time.

4.  A Salon Gift Certificate - I know I am not always great about pampering myself, but I always feel better after a hair cut or I get my nails done.  It just cheers me up and makes  me feel good.

I am sure there are a lot of other practical ideas out there, but these are my top choices.  I could also come up with a great list of wants for you, but that's not today's post.  What is on your Christmas list this year?

This week I am linking up this post over at the
Homeschool Review Crew Weekly Link Up
  ***Please note this post does contain some affiliate links.  This means if you use my links to shop, I do make a small commission on your purchase.  

Monday, December 11, 2017

Our Holiday Traditions

If you ask my family the meaning of tradition they would tell you that it is something that we do because we love doing it and traditions are something we do at specific times.  One of these specific times is the Holidays.  Our family has some very specific holiday traditions that we do every year that are very important to us and I would love to share them with you today.
A Glimpse of Normal, Traditions, Family, Holidays, Baking, Ornaments, Pajamas, Bible
The first holiday tradition we have is a new Christmas ornament each year for each of our children.  This tradition began in our family when my son was born.  We wanted to get him an ornament to celebrate his first Christmas like many new parents do.  The more we thought about it, the more we decided that we should do something each year to represent something important that happened through out the year or something that represented a phase or stage he was in that year.  We thought it would be really neat someday to look back at each ornament and remember why we chose it for him.  Then when our daughter came along, we continued this tradition with her too.  Some day when they are old enough to leave home, we will have a special box of ornaments we can give them that represent their childhood.  So every year we pick out a new ornament that represents each of our kids and when we put up the Christmas tree for the year, they find a new ornament in their room to hang on the tree.  It is something they look forward to and they can't wait to see what ornament we pick to represent the year for them.
The second holiday tradition we have is a tradition that we started in the last 5 years, but it is one that we all love and we get to bless others with.  We used to just bake cookies for us to have on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but a few years ago that all changed.  We decided that we wanted to have a family Christmas baking day, but we knew we didn't need to keep all that we wanted to make.  So we decided that we would make some of our favorite Christmas cookie and candy recipes and we would share.  The first year we just gave the goodies to our immediate neighbors and then took the extras to family Christmas parties.  Each year since then we have expanded our baking so that we can bless more families and it is a blessing to us to give handmade baked goods to friends and families.

The third holiday tradition we have is one that started when I was a child and it is one that we decided to continue with our family, but we have added to it a little.  Every year on Christmas Eve we open just one gift.  It is new pajamas for each of us.  My mom started this with us when we were little kids because we opened Christmas gifts on first thing Christmas morning in our jammies.  I always looked forward to this as a child and I thought it would be great to do with our children.  My children love this tradition and they look forward to it every year.  The part that we added to this tradition for our family is that we wrap a second box (since we have 2 children they each get to open 1 box) and this box has a family Christmas movie and snacks.  After we open our boxes, we put on our new jammies and sit down with our snacks to watch our Christmas movie before going to bed.  It is just a fun way to have a quiet, calm Christmas Eve and prepare for Christmas.
The fourth holiday tradition we have is to read the Christmas story directly from the Bible every Christmas morning before we open gifts.  We do this to remind our children of the real reason of Christmas.  Christmas isn't about getting gifts for us, it is about celebrating the birth of Jesus.  There is no better way to start our Christmas day than reading about how our Savior came into the world so very humbly.

These are our holiday traditions that we look forward to every year.  We love them for what they are to our family and I personally love them because I know that some day my children may do these traditions with their children.  That is the beautiful thing about traditions, they live on for generations to come.

*I originally created a version of this post for a post on The Homeschool Review Crew Blog.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

How I Create.... A Unit Study

One method of homeschooling that we have really been enjoying in our school is the unit study.  But, what exactly is a unit study?  A unit study is a collection of learning activities tied to a theme.  This theme can be a book, a topic, or a broad subject.  Unit studies tend to be more hands-on and the level at which your student studies the topics can be easily adjusted.  I think all of this put together is what has drawn us to unit studies in our school.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, How I Create, Unit Studies, Homeschool Planning
I have created unit studies for both of my kids.  Buddy did a lot of unit study work last year in 8th grade and Little Miss is currently working through a unit study...or two.   They work great for my hands-on learner and for my check-it-off the list, I got it done learner.  Unit studies provide flexibility and can be as in-depth as you want them to be.

What I do to create unit studies is pretty simple.  First I decide if our unit study will be topic-based, subject-based (think of math as a whole), or book based.  Once I decide this then I figure out what kinds of things I want my student to learn while working on the unit.  This usually determines how long we spend on the unit.  Then I start listing out the specific things we want to study and the activities we will do.  I also determine if we will create a lapbook or a notebook.  A lapbook is a couple of file folders put together to display all the little projects and research we complete in the unit study.  A notebook is just a spiral bound notebook where my student will put all the information they research for the unit study.  I have used both of these methods for my kids and both work well for each of them.  Finally, we get to work.

I think the easiest way to explain how I create unit studies is to give you real examples of what we have done or are doing in our school.  So here it goes:

Please note that neither of these pictures is complete for the unit study, but merely examples of how I begin my planning.  They get more detailed when I start to add specific books, vocabulary, and questions that my kids need to answer.  I put together these pictures for an example of where I start.  My brainstorming pages for unit studies are much messier and less organized, but it is where I start.

Now that you have seen how I create unit studies, I will tell you that there is no wrong way to create a unit study. I will also tell you that the internet is full of great unit studies so I don't always have to create my own.  Sometimes we use already created unit studies because they are already done and I just have to print them and get to work.  Other times I use them to get ideas of what other studies are requiring.  There are also other unit studies out there that are available to buy and we have loved these too (many of them we have done reviews for).  Unit studies are a great way to let your child explore a topic and really dig in deep to things they love.  We will continue using them in our school as long as they are working for us.

I am linking up HERE this week.

Friday, December 1, 2017

December 2017 Menu Plan

It is December already!?!  I am dead serious when I keep telling people my brain is stuck in the end of summer.  I have no clue where this fall has went.  It has flown by so fast that I am not in the least prepared for Christmas.  We did manage to get our Christmas tree up and about half our decorations are out.  I need to go to the basement and find the rest of the decorations and get those out.  We are knee deep in a major project here at our house so we are excited for what will happen with it, but there is so much going on this week, that I just can't keep up.  So December 1 snuck up on me and I am scrambling to figure out what is for dinner this month.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, December Menu Plan
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. Fooled Ya Pizza
  2. Ooey Gooey Parmesan Meatballs
  3. Slow Cooker Cabbage Rolls
  4. Copycat Wendy's Chili
  5. Twice Baked Spaghetti Squash
  6. Korean Ground Beef and Rice Bowls
  7. Sour Cream Beef Enchiladas
  8. Stromboli
  9. Egg & Cheese Hashbrown Waffles
  10. Crockpot Beans and Rice
  11. Skillet Sausage and Butternut Squash
  12. Shepherd's Pie
  13. Crockpot White Bean and Sausage Soup
  14. Quesarito
  15. Pizza Casserole
  16. Miss Cindy's Burger Bowls
  17. Chipotle Chicken Lettuce Wraps
  18. Easy Crock Pot Roast
  19. Green Beans, Potatoes, & Kielbasa
  20. Roasted Fall Vegetables & Italian Sausage Sheet Pan Meal
  21. Taco Salad Crunch
  22. Deep Dish Pizza
  23. Chicken and Kale Linguine
  24. Italian Crescent Ring
  25. Christmas Dinner
  26. French Dip Sliders
  27. BLT Chopped Salad
  28. Chipotle Burrito Bowls
  29. Pepperoni Pizza Chicken Bake
  30. Slow Cooker Cuban Beef
  31. Vikki's Taco Dip
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.