Monday, February 19, 2018

A Review of Wulf the Saxon from Heirloom Audio Productions

Our family loves stories that are full of action and adventure.  These stories are even better if they teach good morals, strong values, and come as an audio drama like the ones from Heirloom Audio Productions.  We recently got a chance to review their ninth audio drama, Wulf the Saxon, and it kept us on the edge of our seat until the very end of it.
Wulf the Saxon, audio drama, audio theatre, audio theater, radio drama, radio theatre, radio theater, audio book, G.A. Henty, Wulf the Saxon, henty alive, heirloom audio, Christian audio drama, Christian radio theatre, focus on the family radio theatre, homeschooling, Christian homeschooling, homeschooling curriculum, Adventures in Odyssey, Lamplighter Theatre, Jonathan Park, The Brinkman Adventures, The Battle of Hastings, William Duke of Normandy, King Harold Godwinson, Edith the Fair, Brian Blessed, Tarzan, Robin Hood, Chris Larkin, Master and Commander, Valkyrie, Helen George, Call the Midwife, Jack Farthing, Poldark, Sian Phillips, I Claudius, Patrick Godfrey, Les Miserables, Ever After
Heirloom Audio Productions is a company that we always look forward to working with.  We know that we can always expect quality audio dramas from them.  These dramas not only capture our attention, but they make us feel like we are right there in the middle of the story with the characters.  As a parent I have come to appreciate this company because they strive to tell the stories of true Christian heroes while teaching strong moral values.  I also love that their priority is bringing real history to life for their listeners.  Their audio dramas are based on the popular book series The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty.  His books are filled with themes of bravery, loyalty, family, and happy endings while featuring moral values like loyalty, courage, honesty, and perseverance.  These are great things for my kids to learn.
Wulf the Saxon is the story of courage, bravery, loyalty, and duty.  While there are many characters in this story, the main character is Wulf.  He is a young thane which means that he is an English-Saxon landholder.  He is also a page for Earl Harold who eventually becomes King Harold in the story.  When we first meet Wulf, he has got himself in a little bit of trouble, but the trouble eventually passes and then the real adventure begins during an important time of conquering lands in England's history.  As Harold and Wulf explore the coast of Normandy, they end up shipwrecked and captured by Count Conrad.  The story seems bleak at this point, but Wulf is able to escape and eventually save the other captives.  It isn't long after that when war breaks out and things become very ugly between Normandy and England.  It is also when we get to hear and learn about loyalty, friendship, evil villains, courage, bravery, and even love.  War changes Wulf, but in a good way and he proves to be a loyal man in many ways.  I want to tell you more, but I also want you to listen to the story for yourself.
We listened to our copy of Wulf the Saxon on a day where we had several appointments which meant some driving time in the truck.  The story quickly captured our attention and held it as we went on our way.  I might have missed a turn once because I was listening to the story instead of looking for my turn.  The sound effects in these audio dramas are so real that Little Miss said she felt like she was on the boat with Wulf and Harold as they sailed to Normandy and she said she had a clear picture in her mind of how bad the storm must have been to make the ship wreck.  I love that about these audio dramas.  They not only tell great stories, they encourage imagination as you get pulled into the story.  Buddy joked that he could be Beorn because he was always hungry too, but in seriousness he liked the part where Beorn and Wulf broke out of captivity and set off for help.  He has been learning survival skills and talked about which skills they might have used to survive.  I really liked the ending of this story and I don't want to give away too much, but it was very sweet and hopeful.  As a parent/teacher, I truly appreciate that these audio dramas give me the opportunity to have discussions with my kids about good morals and values while asking what they would do if they were in the same situations as the characters.  For this story we discussed why it is important to take the time to think before speaking and acting, what it means to be loyal and a good friend, and if you should honor your commitments even if the person tricked you into making them.  There were lots of other topics we could have discussed from this drama too. 
Heirloom Audio Productions
There are several options for purchasing this audio drama which contains over 2 hours of entertainment and education.  You can purchase it as a physical 2 CD set, which is what we received, for just $29.97 plus shipping and handling.  You can also purchase it as a MP3 download for just $19.97.  You can also get access to many bonuses, extras, and a study guide for this audio drama (and others) by joining their Live The Adventure Club.  This is a new way to access all of their bonus material they offer and right now they are offering a free 30 day trial of the club.  They have 2 different payment options depending on if you want physical CD's or digital download versions of the audio dramas.  The Live The Adventure Club is packed full of extras for listeners, teachers, and families and is definitely worth the cost.
Heirloom Audio Adventure Club
We definitely recommend listening to Wulf the Saxon from Heirloom Audio Productions.  You can find out more about this audio drama here.  You can learn more about Heirloom Audio Productions on their websiteFacebookTwitter, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, and Instagram.  Please be sure to check out all that Heirloom Audio Productions has to offer.  I know we will be checking them out to see what other series we can use this year for school.  My friends on the Homeschool Review Crew have also been reviewing this audio drama, so make sure you read their reviews by clicking the banner below.
Wulf the Saxon {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Thrifty Thursday

Today I want to share one of the best tricks I have learned to save money.  My aunt taught me this a long time ago and it is the only way I buy this product anymore....or don't buy this product very often anymore.  You decide....
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, Thrifty Thursday
I go to my local food service store to buy my aluminum foil.  I buy a big box of foil like they would use in food service or restaurants.  I purchased my first big box of foil in 2011.  I just purchased my second box of foil in December of 2017 because I knew I was getting close to running out.  I actually just opened my second box of foil this past weekend on February 10.  I purchased my second box for $25.99.  It took me 7 years to use the first box which means my foil cost me $3.71 a year.  I don't know what the cost of foil is at the grocery store, but I am guessing it is more than $3.71 a year.  This box of foil is great, heavy duty foil.  We use it fairly regularly.  It even goes camping with us to quickly cover food, cover the grill grate, or wrap up ice cream cones filled with s'mores ingredients.  This big box roll is totally worth it for me.  We do the same thing with film wrap and it lasts us for about 5 years.  For me this is the only way I buy foil and film wrap.  I write the date I start using it on the box to see how long it will last.
What do you think?  Are you planning a trip to your local food service store now?  What are some things you save money on by buying in bulk?

This week I am linking up here.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

A Look At Forgiveness

Sometimes it is hard to sit and write a blog.  Sometimes it is because you are busy and your brain is going in tons of directions.  Other times it is hard because you feel like you are supposed to write about hard subjects.  That is me right now.  I know what I should be writing about...God keeps putting it on my heart, I keep reading about it in the books I am reading, and the topic keeps popping up in other areas too.  That is how I know it is what I should be writing about, but the hard part is that writing about my topic means baring my soul which is always scary because you never know people's reactions.  So if you are reading this, I ask you to be kind if you choose to comment.
A Look At Forgiveness, A Glimpse of Normal Blog, Forgiveness
Forgiveness is the topic on my heart right now.  This is a topic that I have really struggled with and one I have wrestled with writing about for many reasons.  Forgiveness is the act of forgiving according to the dictionary which lead me to look up "forgive" so I can explain what is on my heart to you.  Forgive can mean to cease to feel resentment against an offender, to give up the resentment, or to grant relief from payment of according to Merriam-Webster.  I am by no means an expert on forgiveness nor am I a great example of forgiveness.  It is just a topic that I feel like God is really putting on my heart so that I work on forgiving, I become aware of giving and getting forgiveness, and it will lead me to more joy which is what I seek.

Through a couple of books I have read lately and a couple of Bible studies I have been watching with my teen son, I have been reminded of some important things about forgiveness and I have learned some new things about it too.  There are several situations in my life where I have tried and tried to give forgiveness, but the more I learn about it, the more I learn that I have not truly forgiven everyone involved in the situations.  Sometimes it is myself that I haven't forgiven and sometimes it is other people.  I really hate admitting this especially as a Christian because it isn't what we are supposed to do, but I am still human and struggle with areas of my life which is a reminder to me that God isn't done working in and on me and my life.

One of the main things lately that I have learned is that I can't say that I forgive someone and hold the pain, bitterness, and bad feelings against the person that hurt me.  This doesn't mean that I won't still feel hurt in a situation because sometimes we do get hurt and it takes time to let go of the hurt.  It means that when I say I forgive someone I have to make a choice.  I either truly let go of the offense or I choose to hold on to the hurt, disappointment, and bitterness.  If I choose to hold on to all the bad things it isn't doing anything to the one who hurt my feelings.  That disappointment and bitterness doesn't make that person angry or keep them awake at night it only hurts me.  No one can feel my grudge but me.  I can't keep acting hurt or play the victim when I truly forgive, if I do these things then I haven't truly forgiven.  Forgiveness doesn't mean that I won't be more cautious with a person because I don't want to get hurt again, but it does mean that I let go of the situation or the offense and I don't feel resentment towards that person.  This is no easy task that is why I have God to help me. 

I am so happy that I have God to help me with forgiveness because there are times that on my own, I would choose to hold a grudge, its the human in me.  I thought about this and what right do I have to hold a grudge when I have a perfect example of someone who has every right to hold a grudge, yet He chose forgiveness instead.  Think of it, Jesus has every right in the world according to human standards to hold a grudge.  He was sinless, blameless, and didn't deserve to die the horribly cruel death on the cross that He did.  He did nothing to warrant the cross, yet people blamed Him, lied about Him, and attacked Him.  He had every right to disown all people forevermore, but He didn't instead He took a punishment He didn't earn and He showed that He loved us more than we deserve.  He even asked for forgiveness for us before He died on the cross.  Thankfully He rose again 3 days later.  He didn't have to do any of that, but He did.  He followed God's will for Him and He showed what true forgiveness is.  If Jesus can do that, I can let go and forgive too.

There are some situations where you may not be able to ask someone for forgiveness or be able to tell someone that you forgive them maybe due to death or it is not safe to be around that person.  You can still forgive that person in your heart and let go of their offense so that you may heal.  God knows the true intentions of our heart and He can provide healing.  All of that being said, I have been working on giving forgiveness to the situations I have been holding on to.  I have been realizing that I have been the one holding on to the offenses in these situations and I have been praying and covering them with forgiveness and asking forgiveness for holding on to the grudge so that I could play the victim for so long.  God is good and gracious and He is showing me His forgiveness and bringing healing.  I know that the healing will eventually lead to the joy I seek.  God is good all of the time.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

February 2018 Menu Plan

It's that time again...the beginning of the month which means it is time for another menu plan.  This month I am trying to (1) use up some items I have had on hand for a couple of months in my pantry and (2) to keep my grocery budget down.  So you will see quite a few soups (they are almost always a great way to slash the grocery budget), recipes using beans and lentils (thanks to my Instant Pot I don't have to soak these overnight), and recipes that are quick but tasty.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, February 2018 Menu plan, Whats for dinner
 I am trying to get better about planning around our schedule so this month I have planned crock pot (I can use my instant pot for them too) meals for Thursdays.  This is gymnastics night for us which means I have to have dinner going before I head out the door so the guys don't have to starve and I don't have to come home and cook which means dinner won't be done until 8 or later...ugh.  Friday nights are always pizza night at our house so it means I just had decide which pizza recipe to use or try out.  Having a set meal theme at least one night a week makes menu planning quicker.  So here is what is for dinner at our house this month:
  1. Slow Cooker Chicken and Quinoa Chili
  2. Calzones
  3. Lemon Butter Chicken
  4. Slow Cooker Hoppin' John
  5. Chili & Cornbread Skillet
  6. Love that Quinoa Burger
  7. Mexican Zucchini Beef Skillet
  8. Slow Cooker Ham & Beans
  9. Meal Lover's Pizza Cups
  10. Shepherd's Pie
  11. Baked Penne
  12. Chili Cheese Frito Bake
  13. Mulligatawny Soup
  14. Filet Mignon (normally we aren't so fancy, but someone gifted us steak for Christmas)
  15. Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin
  16. Italian Sausage & Pepperoni Stromboli
  17. Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
  18. Pasta e Fagioli Soup
  19. Taco Pizza
  20. Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole
  21. Bacon Pasta
  22. Chicken Fajita Soup
  23. Deep Dish Skillet Pizza
  24. Dinner for 8 - this is a small group dinner for church where everyone brings an assigned dish
  25. Copycat Carrabba's Sausage & Lentil Soup
  26. Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu
  27. Chili
  28. Shrimp Boil Foil Packets
As always you can find the recipes I use for my meal planning on Pinterest, specifically my February Menu Plan board.  You will also find other recipes on there that I have used in past years so if there is something on our menu for this month that you don't like you can find another meal on that board to substitute.  What is for dinner at your house this month?

I am linking up HERE.

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.