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 math as 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 are 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 on 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.

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.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Our Christmas Tree 2017

A couple of weeks ago I came to you and asked for your opinion on where we should set up our Christmas tree this year.  The overwhelming majority came back with option B which was by our staircase, but we ended up choosing a different place this year.  So here is what our finished tree looks like:
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, Christmas Tree

We chose to put it in location A which is at the end of our couch.  This way we can see the lights and enjoy the tree from our couch rather than have it behind us.  We also chose not to completely re-arrange our living room at this time to put the tree by the stairs which is what we would have had to do.  I am sure once we finish out our living room, we will put the tree some place different, but that will not be until next year.  We also went with a little bit smaller tree.  It is the same height as our old Christmas tree, but this one is skinnier and I love it.  It doesn't take up as much room and you can finally see our Christmas tree skirt.
What do you think?  Have you decorated for Christmas yet at your house?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Our 2017 Blue Ribbon Award Picks

2017 has been a great year on the Homeschool Review Crew.  We have had the opportunity to work with many, many great companies and products.  Our Crew year has just finished up for 2017 and that means we had to vote for our favorite products that we reviewed this year.  The kids and I were blessed to work on over 50 reviews this year and that means we got to try out a lot of great products.  Once our year finishes up we, as reviewers, get to wrap up our year by voting for our favorite products of the year.  Then our amazing Crew leaders tally the votes and the Homeschool Review Crew gives out Blue Ribbon Awards.  I always love and dread voting for these awards.  We get the chance to work with so many great products and sometimes it is really, really, REALLY hard to pick our very favorite.  Ultimately we do have to pick and we sat down to vote.  This is how our voting turned out for our family.
Favorite Reading Curriculum: Reading Eggs
Favorite Writing Curriculum: Writing with Sharon Watson: Illuminating Literature
Favorite Penmanship Program: Super Teachers Worksheets
Favorite Literature Curriculum/Resource: Progeny Press
Favorite History/Social Studies Curriculum: Drive Thru History
Favorite History/Social Studies Supplement: Rush Revere
Favorite Science Curriculum/Supplement: Novare Science
Favorite Math Curriculum: CTC Math
Favorite Math Supplement: Super Teachers Worksheets
Favorite Foreign Language Curriculum: Greek 'n' Stuff
Favorite Fine Arts Curriculum or Product: Creating a Masterpiece
Favorite Elective Curriculum: Abby Ludvigson
Favorite Christian Education Curriculum: Drive Thru History
Favorite Christian Education Supplement: Brinkman Adventures
Favorite Elementary Product: Kregel: Susan K. Marlow
Favorite High School Product: Drive Thru History
Favorite College or College Prep Product: Writing with Sharon Watson: Illuminating Literature
Favorite Parent Product: Everyday Homemaking
Best Resource I Didn't Know I Needed: Only Passionate Curiosity
Favorite Planning Product: Homeschool Buyers Co-op
Best Online Resource: Reading Eggs
Best e-product: Home School in the Woods
Favorite Book or Novel: Strong Learning: Bessie's Pillow
Favorite Audiobook or Audio Drama: Heirloom Audio
Just for Fun!: Mapelle Films: Trust Fund
Kids' Choice (ages 0-12): Kregel: Susan K. Marlow
Teens' Choice: Innovators Tribe
All Around Crew Favorite: Drive Thru History

That is it!  This is how we voted in the Blue Ribbon Awards this year.  There were some categories we didn't vote in because we didn't review a product in that category.  I want to thank each and every company that we got a chance to work with this year for making great homeschool products.  There are so many that we worked with that we also really enjoyed, but we couldn't vote for every single company.

You can find out what companies won the Blue Ribbon Awards for 2017 from the Homeschool Review Crew by clicking on the picture below.  This is where you can also read how my friends on the Crew voted by checking out their posts.
Homeschool Review Crew Favorite Products for 2017
I am blessed to say I will be returning to the Homeschool Review Crew in 2018 and I am looking forward to working with many more great products and companies.

Monday, November 20, 2017

My Favorite Things Giveaway

I am so excited for today's post.  It is a fun one and I get to spoil one of my lucky readers.  My Facebook Blog Page has finally hit 100 likes.  That is super exciting for me because it means this blog is getting out there and reaching people.  I am so thankful for all of my readers and you truly have no idea how much your support and comments mean to me.  I write this blog to clear my head, but I also hope to help others, inspire readers, and maybe give you a great laugh every once in awhile.  Whatever you read this blog for, I am happy you are reading it.  If this is your first time here, WELCOME!  I hope you stick around.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, My Favorite Things Giveaway
Since I finally hit 100 likes on my Facebook Blog Page (I am actually over that now...woo hoo), I wanted to do a giveaway.  I thought about all the things I could giveaway and decided that I couldn't giveaway just one thing.   So I decided to giveaway an assortment of my favorite things.  Let me quickly show and tell you about the prizes and then tell you how you can win.  One lucky winner will win this:
This prize pack features some of my favorite products from my favorite companies, a favorite way to unwind, a favorite product from my favorite hobby, and my current favorite lip gloss.  Is that enough favorites for you?  Let me tell you about each item in detail.
I have always loved to color and it is one of my favorite ways to unwind.  I can let my brain relax and not think about the worries of the world when I color.  
I have been a fan of Thirty-One for a very long time.  I can't tell you exactly how much of it I own because my hubby does read my blog, but let's just say I own my fair share.  I love their totes and purses, but I also love their nail files.  They don't bend up in my purse and they seem to last a very long time so I am including this cute little owl nail file.
Cooking is a passion for me and I was first introduced to Tastefully Simple about 15 years ago.  I have been a fan of this company ever since.  My very favorite product from them is Nana's Apple Cake, but my family would have revolted if I would have given one of those away.  I am giving away a Malt Vinegar French Fry Seasoning.  Don't let the name of this one fool you.  It is fantastic on potatoes, but it is also great on burgers, chicken, and beef.  I experiment all the time.  That's just how I roll.
I had a hard time parting with the next gift because I absolutely love my Perfectly Posh, but I thought you should try it out too.  Perfectly Posh is all natural skin and body care items and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE their products.  I have not found one of their products that I don't love.  It has transformed my skin and when I first started using it I had extremely sensitive skin, but I don't have that issue anymore.  I chose a Chunk to giveaway.  This is one of their bath soaps.  It leaves your skin clean, but refreshed with no residue.  They last a super long time and this mint is one of my favorite scents.  
The next item in the giveaway is a set of bobby pins from Lilla Rose.  Lilla Rose is all about gorgeous hair products.  I have several sets of their bobby pins.  I love them!!!  My hair stays put all day with these bobby pins.  They don't slide out of my hair, the don't stretch out, they are versatile, and did I mention they are pretty.  I wear Lilla Rose bobby pins about 3 times a week.  
I like lip gloss, but I am pretty cheap about it because I like to switch up the colors.  That is what makes this lip gloss from Wet 'n Wild perfect.   It is a pretty color, stays on a long time, and doesn't break my wallet so I feel like I can try colors without worrying about throwing money away.  
The last item in the giveaway is a handmade item from me.  I am completely enjoying crochet right now.  It is my current craft obsession.  I made this cowl last month and I thought it would be perfect for this giveaway.  It is lightweight and perfect for this time of year.

That's it!  These are my favorite things right now.  Now I bet you are wondering how you enter right?  Just follow the directions in the giveaway box below.  If you are not a fan of my Facebook Blog page, I would love for you to become a fan there.  Thank you for being a reader and supporter of this blog!  I sincerely appreciate each person that reads this little blog.
*This giveaway is provided by A Glimpse of Normal Blog.  All prizes have been purchased by Cassandra Holdeman and are being given away as a thank you for being a reader.  There is only one prize and the winner will have 48 hours to provide shipping information or a new winner will be drawn.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Christmas Tree Poll

This year will be our first Christmas in our new house.  I have a huge dilemma.  I am trying to figure out where to put our Christmas tree.  I know where the people who lived her before us put their tree up at as we were looking at the house around Christmas last year and I am not telling you where they did so I don't influence your vote.  I am having issues deciding where to put it because our furniture is different and no matter where we set it up, we will have to move the furniture around.  I should also tell you that I haven't decided if we will have a real tree or an artificial tree yet.  I am personally leaning towards artificial because with the wood burner going our house is a little dry and I don't want to dry out a real tree long before Christmas.  There are so many options.  So today I am asking for your opinion.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, Christmas Tree Poll
We put the tree up the day after Thanksgiving and that day is approaching fast!!!  Please vote on where I should put my Christmas tree up at this year.   Option A, B, or C.
Option A:  We would move this chair and put the tree here.  It would be beside the couch.

Option B:  We put the tree in the crook of the stairs.  There is more room than the picture shows between the crook and the couch.

Option C:  We move the computer desk and tuck the tree in the back corner of the living room.

Where should we set up our Christmas tree this year?

Thanks for you help in voting.  I will let you know where we decided to put it up at and what kind of tree we got in the next couple of weeks.