Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A Pole Barn - Part 2

So the other week I shared with you that we were having a pole barn put up.  You can read all about the beginning of it here.  I know that in my original post about our pole barn I said I would be back the very next week to show you the rest, but I got delayed.  I had a very busy week last week and our garage doors did not get installed until late last Thursday.  I wanted to make sure everything that could be done was done before posting about it.

It is a project that was a long time coming and that we are really glad that we saved up for so that we could have it built.  We are still holding off on the concrete for the barn due to weather, but we aren't surprised that we need to wait for this step.  We don't want to rush getting the concrete put in and then have issues with it.  We would rather wait until the ground is the right temperature so the concrete can set right.  It is just really good to have the main part of the pole barn finished.  So here are the pictures of the progress...
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, A Pole Barn - Part 2, Progress
This was what our pole barn looked like when they started adding the siding.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog
Our finished pole barn.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog

Eventually we will be putting a small room for gatherings and the foosball table in this end of the pole barn.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog
We are so excited to have this project finished so that we will have a place out of the weather to park.  We will eventually get insulation in it and put up some drywall to finish it on the inside, but those are projects for down the road.  It has really changed our property (for the better) and we love how it turned out.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Getting Back on Track - January Edition

Last year was a year of "Fresh Starts" for our family.  We moved and because of this we got the opportunity to have a fresh start with many areas of our life.  Now that we have lived here for almost a year and have had a chance to catch our breath, we know that we need to get things organized.  We have declared this a year of "Refocusing" for our family.  It is about making sure we are staying on task to complete the things we would like to get done and seeing them all the way through.  For me this means that I need to get myself back on track, get organized, and get my systems that I use back in place so I can manage our household, homeschooling, and all the extra things we want to do.
Getting Back on Track, A Glimpse of Normal Blog, To-Do List
The place where I know I need to get back on track the most is with my to-do list.  Sure I have about 11 bazillion things I would like to get done, but that is an unrealistic number and there is absolutely no way I get everything I want to, need to, and have to get done finished in just one day.  After all, I am not Super Girl, Super Woman, or Super Organized.  I can't even pretend to be any of these people without falling over from exhaustion, burn out, and being completely overwhelmed.  Since I can't do it all in just one day, I had to come up with a system that worked for me.  I can't take full credit for the system I use to stay on track with my to-do list as a friend taught me a way to manage my to-do list years ago when I was feeling completely overwhelmed by it.

The main system is what I call "Just 5."  Since I started using this system, I don't struggle with feeling overwhelmed by my to-do list anymore.  Every morning when I get up, I make a list.  This list is just 5 tasks.  These 5 tasks are the most important things I have to do each day.  They are the things that if I don't get them done, the day will not end well or I will miss an important deadline.  During the week, one of my five tasks is school.  This is the most important thing we can complete each day during our school year.  Since I am the teacher, it needs to be one of my top priorities so my kids know it is their top priority.  The other 4 tasks on my list usually relate to whatever I need to finish that day.  It could be a blog deadline, household chores, or bills I need to get paid.  After I make this list of 5, I know what my goals are for the day.  These are the first things I need to complete in my day.  I work through these 5 tasks until I get them done.  Once they are all finished, I can add other tasks, but the original 5 need to be done first.

Narrowing down my to-do list helps me focus on the most important things.  There are many days that I will write a second list of every task floating through my head just to clear my brain, but they are not added to my "Just 5" until the first 5 have been completed and I only add 5 more at a time.  I even found a really cool note pad that fits my system.  It has areas for "Do It Now" items, "Do It Later" items, and "Do It Never" items.  I put my "Just 5" in the now blanks, extra tasks for the day in the later blanks, and my someday tasks in the never blanks.  This system helps keep me focused on my tasks and helps me bring order to my home.  If you struggle to get things done each day and get overwhelmed by your to-do list, I recommend trying the "Just 5" system that I use.  It is a place to start until your list becomes manageable.

*Parts of this blog post I originally wrote for a Homeschool Review Crew blog post, but I didn't want my readers who don't read that blog to miss out on what I had to say about my "Just 5" system of tackling my to-do list.  So if you happen across the post I wrote for the Homeschool Review Crew blog and it seems very similar to this one, it is because it is also my writing and what I based this post on.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

A Pole Barn - Part 1

One of the things that our dream house barn was missing when we moved in was a place to park and work on big projects.  Yes, we have a small corn crib on the property, but I wasn't sure I could successfully pull my vehicle in and out of this corn crib and we needed a place to store our mower and other outdoor stuff.  Our old house had a 3 stall garage that had room for all kinds of things and we knew when we moved we had to do something about that.  In fact, we even budgeted for this right from the beginning when we knew everything would go through on this barn and our old house would sell.  We got a pole barn!!!  It has been a long time coming and a lot of decisions for my hubby.  I have been involved in some of the decisions for the pole barn, but have left most of it to my hubby since this will be his work area.  We went back and forth about hubby and friends building it, but eventually due to time constraints we ultimately decided to have it built by an Amish crew.  Thankfully we had budgeted over what we needed so we had the funds to afford this.

This whole process was started last fall.  It involved working with our electric company to move some electric lines, working with an excavator to prepare the area (he will also be coming back out this spring to finish our driveway after concrete trucks have been here), and picking the right crew to do the job.  Just after New Years our pole barn was started.  It has been fun to watch the progress.  It is done now, we are just waiting on the garage doors to be put up and concrete to be poured.  Concrete may or may not get poured soon...it is a weather dependent thing and the weather doesn't cooperate where we live.  So today I am sharing part of the pictures with you and next week I will share the rest.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, A Pole Barn, Part 1, #Ireallyliveinabarn
Our electric company working to switch the electric for the pole barn.
They also replaced an old pole while they were here. 
Pole barn supplies being delivered.  This driver backed this big trailer down our very narrow drive.  You can see the neighbor's property in front of us.  It is believed to be the original farmhouse to our barn we live in.
Here is what the supplies looked like on the day the crew started.  It was frigid, the coldest day we have had so far this year.
This is the site where our pole barn will be placed.
End of work on day 1.

The beginning of day 2.  Excuse the picture of my window screen...it was way too to go out for pictures.
I would never be able to sit up on the beams like that.
This is at the end of day 2.  
This was on day 3.  They worked hard and fast especially since it was so frigid.  Don't worry I kept coffee on for them any time they wanted it.
Come back next week to see the rest of our pole barn pictures and how it turned out in the end.  We are super excited to have a place to park and hubby can start planning out his workshop in the pole barn.  What do you think?   #ireallyliveinabarn

I linked up here.

Friday, January 19, 2018

"The Air I Breathe" - A Review

In today's world there are so many things that we worship - money, work, phones, entertainers, television, and so on.  All of these things in the world take us away from who we were truly created to worship.  They distract us, they confuse us, and they lead us astray.  I was recently reminded of this when I received a copy of "The Air I Breathe" by Loiue Giglio to read and review.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, Blogging for Books, Review, The Air I Breathe, Louie Giglio
"The Air I Breathe: Worship as A Way of Life" by Louie Giglio that I received has 111 pages plus a section of discussion guide questions for use in a small group.  It also includes an excerpt from another book by Louie Giglio.  This Christian book is a quick, but powerful read.   It has eleven chapters that explain why worship is so important and how we can get our worship focused back where it belongs, on God.  The chapters in this book include:
  • That Thing We Do
  • Something More
  • Why Worship Matters
  • What God Wants Most for You
  • Joining the Ranks of True Worshipers
  • For Who He Is, for What He Does
  • Worship as a Way of Life
  • Through Jesus, All the Time
  • Lips and Lives
  • A Personal Path to Worship
  • Moving Beyond Me, to Us
Each chapter discusses an area of worship that we, as Christians, should be aware of and do something about.  The concepts are simple, but in today's world where we are busy, busy, busy, this book serves as a wake up call to make worship an every day part of our lives. 

I read this book as part of my devotional time each day.  It served as both a reminder and a challenge for me.  It was a reminder that I was specifically created to worship God.  This point is brought up time and time again through out the book, not in a bad way, but as a reminder of our purpose of existence.  It reminded me that I get so busy with life sometimes, that I put God in a box I can check off of a to-do list.  This is not what He wants from me at all.  He wants a full relationship that includes intentional worship, intentional praise, and constant devotion instead of a few minutes each morning.  He wants my thoughts to be filled with Him, my actions to be ones that glorify Him, and my life one that reflects Him in every way.  
Louie Giglio gives a definition of what worship is and then goes on to show how we can live out this definition in the rest of the book.  It is a practical application of how we can honor God with our worship with our entire life, not just on Sunday mornings in a pew.  This was a great challenge for me.  I need to do more than just show up at church on Sunday expecting God to be there.  He will be there, but will my heart be ready to worship if I just rushed around getting ready for church and getting the family breakfast and the other 17 things we try and get done before rushing out the door?  The answer is no.  I need to do a better job of worshiping God throughout the week.  I need to be consistent studying His Word throughout the week, praying praise to God for his greatness instead of just praying for needs, seek time alone with God to keep my heart focused on Him throughout the week, and being honoring to God in all things.  This will keep my heart in a place of worship throughout the week so that church will be another place and way that I worship God instead of being the only way I worship God.  

I truly enjoyed reading this book and I would definitely recommend it to other Christians.  It is a great reminder of what we should be doing, but most likely aren't.  I am taking what I learned from this book and using it as a challenge to be mindful and purposeful with my worship.

You can read more about Louie Giglio here and you can  more information on "The Air I Breathe" here.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Remembering Andrea

One year ago today we lost a family member.  I never posted anything about it on this blog because it always felt unreal and we were in the middle of all kinds of craziness with our move.  I knew putting the words to it would be hard so I chose to avoid it instead. 

Andrea is my cousin.  She was almost one year younger than me.  There were always those couple of months each year we were the same age.  She was born with a rare liver disease and was the first child liver transplant in the state we grew up in.  Even though she was sick her whole life, her death came unexpectedly.  I mean we always knew she wouldn't be here on earth forever.  There were many times in her life where she was near death, but she always fought and came back.  So last year on the evening of January 15 when I got a phone call from my aunt telling me Andrea was gone, it just seemed unreal.

I couldn't find the courage to speak at her funeral (public speaking is not my thing), but I had written down a few words to share and my hubby read them for me.  Today I want to share them and a few more with you to honor my cousin who our family misses.  Andrea and I were close while we were kids.  We were frequently together at my MamMaw's house and many times when my uncle had her for the weekend, they would stay with us at our house or I would go and stay with my uncle so we could play together.  She was definitely one of my first best friends and even though we got on each other's nerves more times than we could count, we were cousins and we loved each other.  I remember all the crazy things we did together like the time we fixed PapPaw's hair with barrettes.  He never let us mess with his hair, but one day we finally wore him down and I have no clue how many barrettes we got in his hair that day.  I just remember posing for the picture with him and all the giggles the entire time we were fixing his hair.  I remember the long waits at the top of the stairs on Christmas morning as we waited for my uncle to come over so we could open presents.  We always turned this time into some sort of game that drove my brother nuts.  I remember all of us kids gulping down MamMaw's glass of sweet tea.  We did this so often, she lovingly referred to her glass of tea as the community cup.  Andrea and I just always hoped we got our drinks before my brother who tended to have bigger gulps than we did.  :)  I also remember getting locked out of our house as pre-teens because Andrea was being helpful and shutting the door  as we went out to grab the paper.  What she didn't know was that the door was locked.  My uncle was napping before he went to work and when he slept a bomb could have blown up beside him and he would have slept through it.  Thankfully it was a warm day and he woke up looking for us after about an hour.  After I got done being mad that we were locked out, I am sure we created something to do to pass the time.  We also might have let out the horses at my aunt's farm a time or two by accident.  Playing tag was way more important than checking gates at the time.  There are tons and tons more fun memories that I have of the things we did and got in trouble for over the years.  Andrea was stubborn.  She was this way her whole life.  All of her parents will tell you that and they all laugh about it now.  You could say the sky was blue and she would argue why it wasn't, just to be stubborn.  Even though this sounds like a bad thing, it was probably how she kept going through all the illness, pain, and surgeries she had.  Andrea was also fighter.  Like I said before, there were many times she almost died, but she kept fighting.  Andrea had an adventurous side and very few things scared her.  She rode mini dirtbikes even after she burned her leg on the exhaust.  The most important thing about her was that she loved her family.  There were times we fought like cats and dogs.  There were times we didn't see each other often.  As adults we didn't stay in touch all the time.  But no matter what happened when we saw each other, before we would leave she would hug me and say "I love you Cuz."  She meant it.  No matter what, even if we were driving each other crazy.  And no matter what, over the years I loved her too.  I still love her and miss her as I know all of our other family members do too.  If I learned anything from Andrea it was to love fiercely.  So if I tell you "I love you," I truly mean it and I will always love you no matter what because it is who I am and what I have been taught.  While I miss Andrea here on earth, I know that she is in Heaven because she trusted Jesus Christ as her Savior.  I know that because she is in Heaven, she is healed, she is whole, she is healthy, and she is with my MamMaw and PapPaw who went before her.  I look forward to seeing her again one day in Heaven.  I love you Cuz!

Friday, January 12, 2018

New Year, New Goals

I really wish I would have been more put together and gotten this post up closer to New Year's Day, but life has been a little crazy lately and I am just getting around to typing it up.  This year instead of making resolutions that I just won't keep, I decided to set some goals.  Some of them are pretty lofty, but I think overall they are achievable.  There are a few I need to do a little more planning for, such as how will I measure if I am meeting my goal, but I for right now I just want to get them down on "paper."  They are in no particular order.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, New Year, New Goals
1.  Read 100 books - this is a family goal as I count all the books we read and keep track of them on Goodreads.
2.  Finish 100 crochet projects - I find new patterns all the time...it's an addiction.
3.  Grade school work every day after school - If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen my piles of grading last semester.  I am trying very hard to stay on top of grading since we started up again after Christmas break.
4.  Blog ahead rather than at the last minute.
5.  Grow my blog - I love reaching new people so if you want to share my blog with friends that would be great.
6.  Get back on my eating plan.
7.  Take up running.
8.  Finish 2 cross stitch pieces.
9.  Get back on track with the FlyLady System.
10.  Make school portfolios for each of my kids - This will be samples of their work from each year in school.  I am thinking if I get this done now, then I just have to update it each year when we finish school.

That is it.  These are my goals for this year.  I am also still working on my 40 Before I Turn 40 list as well so I didn't want to go too crazy with the goals.  Did you make any resolutions or set any goals for this year?

This week I am linking up here.

Monday, January 8, 2018

A Review of the Yearly Membership from SchoolhouseTeachers.com for 2018

As a homeschool family we are always on the lookout for resources that work for both of our children.  Sometimes it is hard to find one place that offers materials for both of the grades we teach since I have an elementary student and a high school student.  Many websites tend to have more material for one grade over the other.  This is not the case for the Yearly Membership from SchoolhouseTeachers.com which we received to review.  This is a site that is full of courses, encouragement, resources, and more that we truly love in our family.
High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {SchoolhouseTeachers.com}
Let me tell you why this is one of go-to sites for homeschooling.  It is packed full of courses, ideas, activities, help, and even videos for EVERYONE in your homeschooling family.  This site is useful for parents, students, teachers, and the entire family.  There are so many good things on this site that it can be a little overwhelming, but as you start exploring you will find things that your family can really use.  Their "New Members Hub" is fantastic and it really explains how to use this website effectively.  It took me through what I would find on their site, how to use what I found, and areas I would find of interest among other things.  Even though I have used this site for a few years now, I still find myself wandering into the "New Members Hub" occasionally to find out what is new and to explore areas of the site I have not explored yet.  
High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {SchoolhouseTeachers.com}
We are not new to SchoolhouseTeachers.com since this is our third year on the Homeschool Review Crew, but I find new things to use on this website all the time.  I love their selection of  courses offered.  I am always blown away by the amount and variety of the courses offered.  One of my favorite new resources on the site is the World Book area.  SchoolhouseTeachers.com gives you access to ten of World Book's libraries and they cover a very large range of subjects and grades.  I have found subjects and activities in the World Book area for both of my students and they learn while having fun in this part of the site.  Both of them have asked to use this area again every time we use it for school.  I love that I have access to so many articles and activities from World Book for my students to use.  It is like doing research at the library without ever having to leave our home.  

We currently use their Schoolhouse Spelling for my high school student.  Buddy does the Topic Based Spelling.  Recently we started their Bible studies for Little Miss.  She is working in the Preteen Studies because they have Bible lessons specifically about women from the Bible - Ruth, Hannah, and Esther among others.  She has really enjoyed learning about the women of the Bible and studying how they are  examples for us.  I have also recently used SchoolhouseTeachers.com for Literature for Buddy.  I substituted a book for him instead of what his curriculum wanted him to read.  When I was trying to find resources for the book I picked, I checked the site and sure enough there was a complete lesson plan for the book he was going to read.  I love it when I find quality resources for what we are studying and that is exactly what I find every time I turn to this site.
High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {SchoolhouseTeachers.com}
There are many other perks of the Yearly Membership at SchoolhouseTeachers.com.  They have many resources for members that include planners, resources for teaching, current and back issues of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, monthly menus and the list goes on.  I personally love the High School Help Focused Learning Center.  I want to make sure I get my son's transcript right and include all the right things and this Focused Learning Center area is really helping me.  It also has a Career exploration area for Buddy to work through, printouts I need to help with high school tracking and planning, and other guidance you need for helping your student through high school.  The site also has a media library that is AWESOME!!!  It includes one of our favorites, Drive Thru History, and we couldn't be more excited that we have access to these videos.  There are also other videos on there for everyone from Bible studies to marriage videos to art to science and more.  
Schoolhouse Teachers 2018 Fresh Start New Years Speical
We have found that the Yearly Membership from SchoolhouseTeachers.com is invaluable to our family.  It fills in gaps, gives us curriculum, provides encouragement, and so much more.  This is definitely a membership that is worth every penny you pay for it in my opinion.  I am constantly finding more and more useful tools, classes, and resources on this site.  Please go and check it out for yourself and see if it meets your families needs.  You can find SchoolhouseTeachers.com on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Google+.  You can also check out what my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew think of this website by clicking the banner below.
Homeschool Curriculum for Everybody - {SchoolhouseTeachers.com Reviews}
*Please note affiliate links are included in this post.  This means if you use my links I will earn a commission if you decide to purchase anything.

Friday, January 5, 2018

One Word for 2018

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

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

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

Monday, January 1, 2018

January 2018 Menu Plan

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

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

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