How I got to this particular journey…


Joining in with the “Throw Back Thursday Blog Style” crowd! The post below the link up graphic was originally posted April 15, 2010, and is from around the time I began my bariatric surgery journey. Upon re-reading it, I have to admit that I have fallen off of the “no pop” wagon. I am slowly (very slowly!) trying to get back on that wagon, because I’ve also gained back weight and a couple of dress sizes. :-( Encouragement would be very welcome! :-)

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Tots and Me

Originally posted on My Journeys Through Life . . . Herding Cats In Albuquerque!:

All of my adult life, I’ve battled with weight/food issues.  I’ve lost weight, lots and lots of it, but never enough, and never for very long.  Then, four years ago in May, I was in Karmanos cancer facility (in Detroit, MI) having a total hysterectomy as the result of being diagnosed with endometrial cancer.  The surgeon told me then that if I didn’t lose the excess weight, my cancer would most likely come back, and that I had to do it even if it meant bariatric treatment. Well, I did try. I lost about 30 pounds, and then gained it all back, plus more. As usual.

People who don’t struggle with obesity and weight loss problems don’t often “get” it, a lot of the time they think it’s just a matter of will power. But when you have well over 100 pounds to lose, it becomes overwhelming, and you just…

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Star Toaster: The Orphs Of The Woodlands . . . A T.O.S. Review

“The Artist” has been having a lot of fun as our test subject reviewer for a wonderful product from Star Toaster. It is an online “book” called Orphs of the Woodlands, but seriously, it is SO much more than just an online book!

Within the book “The Artist” is reading, “The Treasure of Hightower”, he “became” a character who is a grey squirrel. He chose the name Wingnut for his character, and was able to choose character traits, as well, though he’s just informed me that he doesn’t remember what they are, so we had to log in and find them. Which took a while, since he had also FORGOTTEN his pass word, because he told it to just stay logged in. That was on HIS lapbook though, and I’m on the big desk top. No matter, we finally figured it out when I tried from the parent side to change his pass word, only to find that what I attempted to change it to was already in use within our family. That would be him, since he is currently the only one using this program, so the momentary crisis was averted!

As I said, this is so much more than just an online book! While “The Artist” enjoys reading, he is like me in that he prefers a real, in your hands, turn the paper pages book. However, within the pages of this book come interactive adventure!

As he is reading this book, “The Artist” comes across highlighted words which he can mouse over for the synonyms and definitions he can get sound effects, etc.

As the book “The Treasure of HighTower” begins, Wingnut (“The Artist’s”) squirrel is introduced, and the reader finds out just how it was that he became an orphan himself. The reader finds out that his home is in Ivythwaite. The grey squirrel is recruited to join an underground group called W.A.K., which was formed to fight the “Night Creatures” who have been responsible causing the little orphs to BECOME orphans. Unfortunately, when the resistance begins sending him books (like MATH, for goodness sakes!), he just piles them up in his home, not realizing they are books filled with knowledge he will need, and the night creatures come and raid his home, taking the books while he is hiding. Now, he must journey to HighTower, where the orphs live, to become further involved with the resistance, help the orphs, and make a home for himself in the process.

During “The Artist’s” journey through this story, he is not just reading. At the end of each chapter, he is given “jobs” which cover many learning categories, such as math, science, literature, art, life lessons, memory, wild life lessons, thinking skills, etc.

As he completes these jobs, he receives gold stars, which is the currency in the world of this story. Earning more stars means he can begin helping the orphs by purchasing things like plots of land, food, weapons, clothing and such, in order to take care of the orphs. The system also gives him more orphs to care for occasionally, based on how many gold stars he has accumulated.

When I asked him what he liked about this program, while I was writing this review, one of the things he said was that he really liked the quotes. He especially liked the one “Never work before you eat lunch. If you must work before you eat lunch, eat lunch first”. “The Artist said he thought it was by a famous comedian, but unfortunately, he can’t remember who it was. He also liked it that sometimes while holding the mouse over something in Latin, it would give him the translation. He is just about to begin chapter 7, and is really enjoying the book!

Here is a candid shot of “The Artist” while he is reading the book and doing jobs. I wanted a candid shot that he didn’t know I was taking, so that you would see that he really is enjoying the world of the orphs!


I like that this is more than just an online reading book, as I said above. There are cross curriculum lessons throughout, and it is made fun for the student. That is always a big plus for me, as you know! :-)

“The Artist” and I give this one a big thumbs up, and we think you will, too!

to discover what other crew members and their children thought of Orphs of the Woodlands by Star toaster, please click the banner below.

Star Toaster Review 

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Wordless Wednesday: April 15, 2015 In My Front Yard!

phone dump 4142015 033



Wordless Wednesday at Life at Rossmont

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New American Cursive: Penmanship Program Workbook 1 From Memoria Press . . . A T.O.S. Review

My eldest son, “The Batman”, was pleased to be picked for this review of New American Cursive: Penmanship Program Workbook 1 from Memoria Press . . .

He wanted to try it primarily because he has tried very hard all of his life to learn cursive writing. As my regular readers are aware, “The Batman” is age 22 now. He has a number of developmental disabilities, and it has really, really bothered him that he has trouble even writing his signature. He gets so nervous when trying to write, that he grips the pencil very tightly, and his hands become very sweaty. :-( All that aside though, he said he wanted to try again.

This program, although designed (obviously) for someone MUCH younger, is a simpler form of cursive than I learned, and simpler too, than the cursive included when he was little and we were trying to use a purchased curriculum, and do what I now refer to as “school in a box”. Back then, both he and I were constantly, literally in tears over the handwriting issue, and that was before we even left printing for cursive!

I have to say, one of the first things that “The Batman” noticed was that the workbook was spiral bound at the top, rather than the side. He immediately realized that this meant that the spirals wouldn’t be pushing into him (he is left-handed) like regular spiral bound books. YAY! :-)


The New American Cursive Penmanship Program was written by Iris Hatfield, who has a passion for handwriting, this program is very important to her. As you will read in the beginning of the workbook, she points out that the penmanship of American students has deteriorated over the past several decades. This program was created to help end this deterioration, by making cursive easy and fun to learn.

Throughout the workbook, there is a cute little mascot, Mr. Meerkat. The meerkat was chosen as the mascot because it is one of the few animals who are known to actively teach their young. So, why not have him help teach OUR children, hmmm? :-)

Now, regarding how this workbook “works”. There is no “lesson plan” in which you are to schedule so much each day. There is a short teaching guide, in which you, the parent/teacher, are shown some very simple things.  You will teach the student (and you will want to remind him or her often until they have formed these habits) the three P’s:

1. Posture

2. Pencil Position

3. Paper Position

On the same page which gives you this information, there are ideas for finding instructional videos on youtube for both right and left-handed students learning New American Cursive.

As the student begins to work on letter formation, you will help them by reminding them often of the three S’s:

1. Size

2. Slant

3. Spacing

Also in the short teaching guide is information about why it is important to use a multi-sensory method of teaching. It really helps the student to learn. When they say the letter, feel the letter (by writing it in the air, for example), and write the letter, they have actually put it into their brain in three different ways. Another wonderful suggestion given is to play light classical music when the student is ready to begin the actual writing process. I totally believe in this. I’ve read a number of things through the years which have convinced me that classical music is great as a background to studying, not to mention how helpful it is with someone like my son, who has broken connections in his brain.

We also like that after every few pages of work, there is a practice page which has extra space to either practice the letters, or to draw something. It makes for a nice break, especially for a student who is stressing out over handwriting.

By the time the student reaches the end of this book, he or she will be doing copy work such as The Pledge of Allegiance.

Because my son has difficulty with fine motor control, I’m pleased that this is a nice cursive, without all the extra loops and such that some cursive programs use. This is also helpful as ALL of my boys think “THAT kind of cursive is GIRLY, mom!” :-)

I do like that this  workbook teaches the cursive letters in alphabetical order, though with the help of a software program (available on the Memoria Press site) called Startwrite/NAC, you can make up your own extra worksheets, tests, etc. I’m considering the purchase of  it, so as to create copy pages in topics we are studying, not to mention being able to help all of my boys with their cursive so that they can write neatly to family members and friends.

As I said way at the beginning of this review, “The Batman” is way older than the age this is designed for, but with his difficulties, this is where he needs to be. So far, it’s coming along well for him, and he likes it, so *I* like it!

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To see what other crew members think of the New American Cursive : Penmanship Program Workbook 1 from Memoria Press, please click on the banner below! :-)

Memoria Press ReviewCrew DisclaimerAs always, I would just love it if you would join me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”! Simply go to the “Sign me up” button at the top of the blog, and enter your email. Then you’ll never miss an update again! :-)

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Wow . . . Time Sure Gets Away From Me Lately!

Between illnesses in the family (not surprising, with four kiddos, right?), Off and on under the weather times for me as well, I’ve let things slide here on the blog. I certainly didn’t plan that, in fact, I’ve a bunch of blog posts rolling around in my head, ready to be written, and some that I need pictures for. You can expect to see more pictures of “The Artist’s” work, he’s been tangling like crazy, and making Zentangle Inspired Art, too, which I can hardly wait to show you. I need to get myself back to working on tangling as well, so that I can improve, as he has done. Right now, “The Batman” is doing his piano practice, while “The Artist” is waiting to do his. I need to get off the computer and go make a bunch of chicken salad on croissants for Ladies Bible Study this evening. This is our final night for this session, and we generally do a light pot luck sort of thing for the last night. See you all soon! :-)

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GPA LEARN: A T.O.S. Review

We have been using the online math program called GPALOVEMATH from GPA LEARN.

Full disclosure time… as most people who know me well are aware, I am NOT a math person. In fact, as soon as I had enough math credit to graduate when in high school, I never took a math class again. I would really like this to be different for my kiddos, though, so I was pleased to see how great GPALOVEMATH turned out to be!

I have four kids, and so far, three of them have been using this program, and enjoying it! I mean, even asking to do more of it, though I expect that has a lot to do with the motivational feature, which I will talk about a little later.

GPALOVEMATH is, as I said above, a web based program which covers grades from Kindergarten through fifth. I currently have kids working in grade 1, grade 1, and grade 3, but one of our twins “Mr. Loquacious” is finding it too easy and asked to be bumped up a grade, as did “The Artist”, who is deficient in math, but is finding this time around that 3rd grade is too easy. “The Puzzler” needs help in the first grade level, so he’ll stay there for now. One of the nice things though, is that I CAN change the grade level they are in, by myself, as opposed to having to ask the company GPA LEARN to do it for me.

One of the things that my kids like for any homeschool program is having it be interactive. This one is! Each grade level has a learning coach who interacts with the student. In the levels we’ve been using, first grade has an Australian penguin who’s name is PI, and in the third grade level, the learning coach is a robot named Abacus.

GPALOVEMATH is set up so that I can log in as myself and have access to each of my kids’ information. I can test drive anything they have coming up, and I can set up surprise rewards for them, which they earn after a certain number of lessons and quizzes are completed, depending on how many rewards I’ve chosen. I didn’t tell them about it, so when it happened, they were thrilled, and as I said up above, started asking for more time on the program, lol! Not only can they earn my rewards, but there are awards set up by GPALOVEMATH which they may work toward when available, such as ecards for places like Toys R Us and Target.

Regardless of which grade my kids are using, they will have over 150 lessons and 10,000 problems. In each lesson, they begin with instruction, then they practice the concept, and finally, move on to the quiz. I think the practice session is especially beneficial to my twins. When they finish a lesson, the program tells them how they did, and they can see how many points they have built up to that point. If they are working toward a specific thing, such as one of the ecards, the program will tell them how many more points they need to reach it. I like that, it’s motivational, and MAY help them develop more patience. :-)

I had occasion to phone tech support at GPA LEARN, and was extremely pleased! “Mr. Loquacious” was having a problem with the final problem on a quiz, and even I couldn’t do it. It called for typing a number into a space. Neither of us could do it, and when I tried to send through the feedback button at the bottom, I couldn’t type into that either. Finally, I gave up and called for support, where a very nice man named Darryn answered. He and a coder named Chad spent a bunch of time trying to help me figure it out, and we just couldn’t do it. He took down my phone number and promised to call me back. Well, in probably 15 minutes, they did, in fact call back. They had me log in as me, and test drive the quiz to see if we could recreate the problem. It still didn’t work. After all of that time, we finally figured out that I had not been using Chrome, which is the browser that works best for this program. *I* felt completely stupid, but Darryn and Chad assured me that this is what they are there for, and I was doing fine. :-)

We really like GPALOVEMATH, and would very highly recommend it.

You can have access to all 6 levels for one child at the cost of $149 for the year or $12.99/month. For a limited time, it is available at $129 with code GPAINTRO15.

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Beautiful Art!

My husband and I had decided some time ago that if any of our kids showed a real talent in something, and a real desire to grow that talent, we would find a way to help them do so. That’s why I took “The Artist” to his first Zentangle class last month. That class was the only prerequisite to attend ANY later class, so this past Saturday, he came with me, and we both attended Zentangle 201: Back To Basics And Bijou, Too. We had a great time, working with the traditional tiles, and also the smaller Bijou tiles. Here is what we did. . .

This is the first Bijou, using the tangle Flux. This one is “The Artist’s”:


This one is mine:


Next, here is a photo of the class tiles:


Next, we used Bijou tiles for the tangle Purk; Here is the one “The Artist” did:


Here’s mine:


And the class tiles:


The final Bijou was the tangle Betweed. Here is “The Artist’s” . . .


And mine . . .


And the class tiles . . .


After doing the little Bijou tiles, we worked with the traditional tiles to make borders, after which we made cuts so that we could insert whichever Bijou monotangle we wanted to showcase. We can switch them out, too!

Here is “The Artist’s” completed set:


And Mine!


This is so much fun, and I feel like I am also creating real art! :-)

Not only that, but yesterday, when I got my rebase on my nails, the lovely lady who does them had something in her samples that to me, and to “The Artist” as well, looked like a tangle, so look what she did for me!


I always get a design on one accent nail on each hand. LOVE this one, it goes with my Zentangle interest! :-)

I hope you enjoy this blog! If so, I’d love it if you joined me! Just go to the “sign me up” button at the top of the page and enter your email. You’ll always know when there is something new here! :-)

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