Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Wordless Wednesday Takes to the Road

My heart is full and we have beautiful memories of unexpected blessing of three weeks with our hero!

It all started with a quick pickup at the airport-

And then many hours in the car...

Some pool time-

Friend time-

Family time-

Play and fun-

Lots of food-

More time on the road-

And finally goodbyes for now-

Wordless Wednesday at Life at Rossmont


Sunday, April 26, 2015

4 Ways to Save Money While Eating on the Road

Yes, we are finally back from our unexpected "vacation" with dad and are settling back in.  On Wednesday I will share a few fun photos for those of you that are remotely interested. ;)  I finally made it to the grocery store tonight so this family can eat more than just things I scavenged out of the freezer.  Time to get back to real life folks!

But what fun memories we have tucked away.  And yes, we ate our way through more than several states.  Out of the three weeks gone, 7 of those days were actually spent on the road.  For very long periods of time.  Add that up, and that is 21 meals on the road or potentially in a hotel.

Now don't get me wrong, our family enjoys eating out occasionally but it can get old, well, except for the 7 year old who has a thing for restaurants and would eat out every meal if you let him.  But between the expense factor and the fact that one of us has eaten foreign food for 4 months, let's just say that 21 meals out was not going to cut it.

No worries, this momma had a plan!  Not just for our sanity, but to save money!

Yes, you can save money eating on the road.

Here's how-

Pack a cooler!
We actually use two.  One holds all of our things that really do need to stay cool!
Our standard items-
Mayo and mustard
Lunch meat
Baby carrots
Individual containers of diced peaches, pears, and applesauce
And a few Mountain Dews to keep dad awake!  Despite the HUGE time change and jet lag, my hero drove every minute of the trip except the day we picked him up from the airport.

The other cooler bag fits perfectly between the two second row seats and holds snacks and such.  Many of the snacks for this trip were given to us by a sweet friend (thanks Andrea!!!) and the "such" includes napkins, plastic utensils, and the plastic cups which we use to hold said snacks.

This is our standard lunch on the road, just like it would be at home on any given day.  Much cheaper than a $6.00 meal x 6 people= $36.00 for a bad-for-you lunch!  Plus, I figure that the fewer public restuarants we are in, the less likely we are to pick up random germs!

Take advantage of hotel breakfasts and possibly mid week meals.
Here's the deal.  If you are going to pay for a place to stay (have you seen the cost of rooms these days) you might as well make sure they have a free continental breakfast.  Yes, some hotels' ideas of breakfast are better than others, but most have at least yogurt, juice, fruit, cereal, oatmeal, and bread of some sort.  Most these days even offer waffles or pancakes, and, much to Colby's delight, some even have doughnuts.  We make sure we eat well and often grab a piece of fruit for the road to have for an afternoon snack.

A newer trend at many hotels these days is some sort of buffet for dinner during the week.  I remember when that used to be light snacks, but these days the offerings are quite substantial and by adding a piece of fruit, you could easily have a decent meal.

Share meals at restaurants
Usually by dinner we are ready to be out of the car, are tired of picnic lunches, and want to actually sit down for a meal, so we do usually eat at restaurants in the evenings. One way to save on meals is to share!  Our girls are famous for this when they can find a place with fajitas.  Most restaurants do not mind sharing and often their portions are too big for one person anyway.  Even an order of fries at Five Guys can be split between three in our family! (Anyone else love that restaurant?)

Another way to save costs is to eat lunch, a cheaper meal, in a restaurant, and have your picnic from home for dinner in your hotel room.  Many rooms have microwaves you can use to heat up food you bring and we have even been known to heat water in a coffee maker and make mac and cheese. (yes, when you are on the road as much as we are, you learn to be resourceful)

Pack a crock pot!
Yes I did!  My husband rolled his eyes at me but I am pretty sure he appreciated the home cooked meals. We actually do this quite often, especially if you are going to be in one place for more than a night and if you are out all day sight seeing.  Just pop a roast, chicken, or pork loin in before you head out and when you come back to the room exhausted after a day of fun, your meal will be waiting for you.  I often wonder what the maid service people think, but so far no one has ever said anything to us.  We shared a meal with friends once and they brought their electric griddle along.  It was great and a much easier way to visit old friends than in a restaurant.

No, we are not cheap.  Well, maybe a little, but the reality is that I not only want to eat fairly healthy on the road, but to save money. After all, the money we save on something as trivial as food can then be spent on much better things - like family fun! ;)

Are there more money saving ideas?  I am sure there are and we would love for you to share how you too save money while eating on the road!

Linking up with friends-


My Joy-Filled Life

Friday, April 24, 2015

34 Weeks of Clean! Week 17 - The Master Bath

Pretty soon your Master Retreat (it sounds better when you can it a retreat) will be the most amazing place in your house.  Pretty soon!  But first, we must tackle those Master Baths.  I know, I know, stick with me here.  I promise I will try to make it as painless as possible.

No sense in delaying, let's just roll up our sleeves and get started!

  • Pull everything out!  You knew I was going to say that, right?  Note to self, it is probably better to put it somewhere other than in the middle of the bathroom floor.  That does make your job a little more challenging.  Just saying.

  • Once everything is out, wipe out all of the drawers and shelves.
  • Now we are going to sort AS we return things to their space.  First of all, notice I said "sort!"  If it is old and tired, throw it out.  If is is not being used, get rid of it.  If you do not love it, out it goes.  See a pattern here?  We do not NEED most of what we have, so why do we insist on keeping it all?  
          Case in point- this is my makeup drawer.  Really it is.  And before you think, "well, she just doesn't do makeup," trust me, I do!  Wouldn't be seen without it.  But I can only use one thing at a time.  So I have one. thing. at. a. time.  Occasionally I do get free samples and such that I plan on using, so they are housed in a tiny makeup bag in the cabinet.  Other than that though, the rule is to use something up before buying more.

Second of all, notice I said, return to their space.  Think this out and have a plan!  Everything should be assigned a dedicated space.   It it like a puzzle sometimes, I understand, but make it work for you. I had no system at first and things tended to just get thrown in.  Hence the mess!

    Does this REALLY belong on the bathroom?
    How many towels do we really need?
    How many sheets do we really need?
    Why do I have 10 half used bottles of lotion?
    Why do I have 10 half used bottles of anything?
    For me, just putting the sheets and towels in the same cabinet made my life easier.
  • Have a place for anything you stock up on!  For me it is just a small plastic bin.  Extra shampoo, razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and such go there.  If that bin is full, we do not need more.  No matter how great a sale is.  Let's be smart shoppers, not hoarders!  There is a difference, folks!
  • If you keep medicine in your bathroom, now is the time to go through it.  For safety's sake, dispose of (properly) anything old and expired.  Keep only what you really think you need and use.
  • Now you are ready to deep clean your bathroom and move on!
           Don't forget-
           Toilets, tubs, and shower
           Throw rugs
           Wash your shower curtain and replace the liner if needed
           Light switches and light fixtures
           Walls! (hairspray, anyone?)
           Pictures and do-dads! (can I just say the bathroom is probably not the cleanest place for do-dads!  If they are really things that you love and bring you joy, put them in a place where you can better enjoy them.)
           Baseboards and doors
           Even the tops of cabinets!  Thankfully my oldest braved that one for me.  I have a fear of falling from any height these days!

And that trash pile?  Out it goes!

Trash Pile

You did it!  Yay for you!

As a reward I am going to give you a sneak peek at one of my favorite things so far in our prize basket.  I recently found this book called Clutter Free by Kathi Lipp.  Don't worry, your copy will be new and minus all of my notes, starring, and dog eared pages! ;)

This book is so good you may just want to go ahead and buy a copy now and if you win, you can make a new best friend by gifting a copy to someone else.  This book is full of the whys and how tos of getting rid of clutter teamed with A LOT of humor.  Guys, we might as well laugh. Or else we may cry, right?!  I think this Kathi gal and I could be best buddies and I have already put all of her other books on my wish list- after I find a few more to get rid of in my current stack, don't worry.

Remember how we talked about this 34 Weeks of Clean Series was not just about cleaning, but taking back our homes?  Hopefully Kathi won't mind me quoting her as I sign off today-

"While the rest of the world is telling you all of their organizing tricks, here is the best one of all: own less stuff....And when your home is more open, you are more willing to open your homes to others!" Page 33

Yes and Amen!

Last week you had a perfect opportunity to clear out some extras in your Master Closets!  How did you do? Please share with us!  Remember, every link here or picture posted on our Facebook page earns you an entry in our 34 Weeks of Clean Gift Basket drawing!

Week 16- The Master Closet

Week 18- Half-time


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

When God Says Wait

It's that time of year again.  Have you seen the moving announcements out there?  Many of our military friends are preparing to pack up and head to a new location.

And us?

Ummm...who would know.

We were supposed to be notified in March.  Didn't happen.

That's OK, I told myself.  At least we will all be together when we find out.

Then the April assignments came out.  Didn't happen again.  Seeing a pattern here?

And now?  Well, we will see.  For now we are being told August or September.

And so we wait.  Sometimes I think that is the story of our lives.

What can you do but wait when God says wait?

Because it is God who is saying wait.  Not yes or no, but WAIT.

 Psalm 27:14
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

And my response?

Because many of you know me personally, I am going to be honest and say my response was not "Oh, good, God, I am so excited about this waiting thing."  Nope.  Waiting is not somthing I do well. I am a planner.  My calendar and my lists are some of my favorite things.  Really.  I can handle lots of things as long as I KNOW what they are and when they are coming.  Seems reasonable to me.

But have you noticed that God does not work that way? He often gives us the information we need only when we need it.  He obviously doesn't think I need that information now.

So all that to say, yes, we are moving at the end of the year.  No, we do not know where to.  We are waiting for God.  And trusting that His plans are amazing.

What are you waiting on?


Monday, April 20, 2015

Lessons From a TLF


That's military speak from Temporary Lodging Facility.  And our home away from home for the past week.  It's one of the perks of this crazy lifestyle of ours and one we have used frequently.

For those of you who are not familiar with them, TLF is a hotel suite minus the fancy amenities.  Not every one is created equal, but this one does have a few separate rooms and a small kitchen, enabling us to spread out a little and not eat in restaurants for a week straight.  It's the little things, folks, trust me!

The Lessons Learned
Little spaces gather clutter faster.
   How DID we get this all in the car in the first place?

Suitcases expand the minute you leave your house and you can never repack them the way you originally had them.
   Shopping while on vacation may not be the smartest idea I ever had.  Just saying.

At home we underestimate our dependency on our laundry room.
   When I get home I am going to tell my washer and dryer how much I appreciate them, just in case.

People on base are friendly.
  • At the food court a gentleman engaged my 13 year old in a conversation about his life plans like he was his own flesh and blood.  And it did not freak the said 13 year old out at all!
  • After leaving the food court I asked the kids if they needed to go potty before starting our 15 minute walk back to TLF. (They love when I do that in public, by the way!)  Immediately the woman in front of us turned and asked if we would like a ride back instead, saying she had plenty of room in her SUV.  We needed the exercise after several rainy days inside, but let me say that if we had not, I would not have hesitated to take her up on the offer.
Base Housekeepers are hard workers.  And still smile and call you sweetie!
   They also come way too early in the morning, but I am learning to forgive them.

Ants can take over any kitchen,  Even one on the second floor.  Exterminators are hard workers too!
   What is with those little ants and why do they haunt me every time I step foot in the South?

Reveille comes earlier than you think.

   No, my sweet 7 year old, that is not your cue to wake us all up!

Retreat still makes your heart swell with pride.
   And yes, it is amazing to see cars come to a stop and people, young and old, saluting a flag as it is taken down at the end of each day.

Taps still can make our hearts swell with pride.
   Yes, my son, that does mean it is time for YOU to go to bed!

We are blessed with friends we have made through the years!
  Like the family that we have only met only one other time but whose husband was once deployed with mine in a land far away who invited us for dinner and yet we laughed like lifelong friends! And we now want to be stationed with them! ;)

Displaced families bond quickly.
   When you are displaced and living out of a suitcase you just tend to have a certain look about you.  

Our family loves a challenge and an adventure.
   And we are more than thankful for this unexpected one!

It's time to head home.


Friday, April 17, 2015

34 Weeks of Clean! Week16- The Master Closet

You knew it was coming, right?  We cannot simply do our bedrooms and skip our closets, though trust me, the idea did cross my mind.   Let's face it, most of our closets are pretty dungeon like.  At least mine is.  I have had ONE closet in my lifetime that I loved.  In our last rental house, the closet was the size of a small bedroom.  Seriously!  It had a wonderful window in it that lit the place up and I even had my treadmill in it with plenty of space to walk around in.  I loved it.  That is no longer my reality sadly.  This is-

Yep.  Small and piled high with junk.  Since I am not currently sharing it with hubby (although his stuff is still in there), I have allowed it to get completely out of hand.  Shhhh, don't tell him.  It is an easy place to just toss things in and not look back.  It is one of the few places guests don't see so I let it slide.  Often.

So this week- Master Closets are on our attack list!  
Here we go!

  • You know the drill - take everything OUT!  Trust me when I say this, it WILL make things easier in the end!
  • Once everything is out, wipe down the shelves and rods and vacuum the floor.  Now is your chance before things go back in!
  • And now, for the hard part!  Put it back.  Notice that I did NOT say put it ALL back in.  Because that is not what we are going to do.  Shake your head up and down to indicate you understand, please!
If you will remember back with me a few weeks, one of our goals was to declutter.  This means we are NOT keeping extra stuff we do not need or wear.  
    - Throw away things that are stained or torn.
     -Donate things that do not fit you or that you do not love!

Helpful hints
When you wear something, wash it and then put it on a hanger facing backwards.  When a month is over, the things that are are still on front facing hangers are the things you have avoided for a month.  hmmmm- do you need them?  

Or try this- I hang all my shirts together in a row and then each day choose the one on the far left to wear.  From there I pair it with whatever else I need and off I go.  If I find myself skipping the same shirt over and over again I take that as a clue that it is not something I like or need and should pass on to someone else.

This also helps me avoid wearing the same few things over and over again that I love.  Because, yes, I would do that.

Really evaluate what you have and what you NEED.  There are plenty of good sites out there that can help you decide what looks good on you (and what does not) and how to mix and match with fewer things.  I have found that when I keep my clothes to a few colors, it all goes together AND it keeps me from buying more.  My oldest does something similar and has just started a capsule wardrobe which she has promised to blog about for me soon!  One thing I have learned from all the traveling we do is that you can create many different outfits with few pieces if you plan well.  Let's commit to stop buying random stuff just because it is cute or on sale!  If you don't need it, don't buy it!

If you have a high shelf in your closet, invest in a few dividers that will help you stack things without the risk of an avalanche every time you open the closet door.  

Hang your dress clothes separately.  It makes Sunday mornings and special occasions easier to get ready for when those clothes are separate.

Make piles like TRASH, GOODWILL, or SWEET DESERVING FRIEND who will fit better into it! ;)

Trash pile!
You can do this!  I know it is hard to let go of things, but let's not make things an idol.  Clothes especially.  They simply cover our bodies and do not make us who we are.
  • This is also the time to go through scarves, shoes and jewelry if this is where those things are housed.  
              -My kiddos gave my two scarf hangers for Christmas that I love.  (yes, I have a thing for scarves, especially in the South Dakota cold months!)  It is a great way to organize them, plus once you run out of space you need to be done! (note to self)
               -I also love having my jewelry on the back of the closet door so it is easy to match to an outfit on the way out the door.  I recently pared down my jewelry to only the pieces I love.  Hard, but necessary.
               -Shoes!  Let's talk shoes for a minute.  How many pairs do you own?  Actually, how many pairs can you wear at once?  That is a better question.  I love shoes as much as the next person, maybe not as much as my mom, but I realized that shoes were one of the areas that was going to get the best of me if I was not very careful.  So I donated a lot of pairs last year!  I realized I only wore the same pair of boots all winter anyway, and because of a hip and leg problem (steps are a very dangerous thing!) I wear the same two pairs of summer shoes all summer long.  All the others, except for two pairs of church shoes and two very dressy pairs, were extra.  As in not needed!  Those shoe boxes can be found at a dollar store and house shoes neatly.
              -Bags and pocketbooks.  Now we are getting personal.  If you know me well, you know I have a thing for both.  Don't know why, but I cannot seem to pass up either.  I love changing purses with the seasons and I can find any excuse to have a new bag.  In my defense, I use them.  But, again, not all are necessary (did I really say that?), and I did get rid of a few.  Ok, 3, but it is a start, I promise!

YOU DID IT!  Stand back and look at what your hard work accomplished!  And don't panic- you have a week to finish this project!

So how did you do last week in your Master Bedroom?  Can't wait to see your progress!!  Don't forget, for every link you leave or every picture you leave on our Facebook page, you will earn an entry in our 34 Weeks of Clean Prize Basket!  Maybe I will give you a sneak peek of some of its contents soon.  I think you will love it! ;)

Week 15- The Master Bedroom

Week 17- The Master Bath

An InLinkz Link-up


Thursday, April 16, 2015

gMovies Review and Giveaway

Do you watch a lot of movies in your house?  I admit we do.  We are not TV kind of people.  There is just too much out there that we do not want in our homes and the commercials, well, don't get me started!  So our Friday nights are full of streamed movies and oldies-but-goodies, family-friendly shows.

But you even have to be careful with movies. What's ok for one person is not always ok for another one (which is why we are always hesitant to share which movies we watch). We have a device that takes out choice language but because it relies on closed captions, it is hit-or-miss sometimes.  Plus, as parents we have to take the time to preview movies before we will allow the younger kiddos to watch them. And that, my friends, takes up valuable time.

gMovies may have just made my life easier!

gMovies is a movie streaming company that is family friendly. Think the Christian version of Netflix! Over 300 movies and TV shows can be accessed immediately with streaming from your iPad, Andriod, or PC, with new selections being added monthly.  Whether you are looking for action, adventure, sci-fi, documentaries, or comedy, gMovies has something for you.

The neat thing is there are no contracts and the service only costs $4.99 a month.  Hey, that's equal to a few rentals a month!  Powered by UP, known for their uplifting entertainment for families, my readers have been given access to a two week free trail so you can try it out, too!

Simply go to- and enter code: FREETRIAL51

A lucky reader will also be able to win a FREE six month subscription by entering the rafflecopter below!

What do we think?
Well, the timing of this review was perfect.  We are currently on the road so we are pretty limited in what we can watch and what we could bring on the road.  Being able to pull up gMovies has been a huge convenience plus offers the peace of mind to know that the kids safely have pretty free range in choices of what to watch.  Our coverage has been a little spotty, so I did notice that a few movies seemed a little jerky occasionally, but I am willing to bet that is simply due to our location and should not be a problem for you.

The site is easy to navigate and you can search by theme or title, as well as by popularity!  If you know what you want to watch simply type it in.  If not, you can scroll through most popular to get some ideas.

Some of my favorites in the kid's section have been the Davey and Goliath series, the Sugar Creek Gang series, our new favorite, the Friends and Heroes series, and a great collection of the the Torchlighters series. You also will find some great Christmas classics offered - bring on December!

I have been impressed with the movie choices.  My kiddos do tend to roll their eyes at "dorky" or "poorly written movies" in the name of Christianity, but we have been able to find several that everyone was pleased with.  While many are God themed, others simply have a good message attached or are just plain "family friendly." I challenge you to find another place that offers that.

Enter the rafflecopter now for your chance to enjoy 6 months free of gMovies!  Thank UP!

a Rafflecopter giveaway<

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”
Linking up with-

I Choose Joy!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Memoria Press Cursive Penmanship- Schoolhouse Review

There has been much controversy about whether or not to teach a child cursive.  Add to that the debate of what age to introduce cursive to a child and you can leave a parent pretty confused.  I have to admit that our family has fallen on all sides of this debate and I was really not sure what to do with our youngest and last homeschooler, age 7.  When we found we had the opportunity to review New American Cursive: Penmanship Program Workbook 1, intended for 1st grade and up, by Memoria Press I was so excited to give it a try!

Memoria Press contends that if you can teach a child cursive writing at an earlier age, as early as first grade, the child is more likely to embrace that style.  Their habits are less set in stone and less "unlearning" has to take place.  By third grade, a student's printing is pretty fixed and it makes the transition to cursive more difficult.

Memoria Press Review

Why teach cursive?  According to Memoria press-
  • Cursive improves the continuity and fluidity of thought in written communication.
  • Cursive improves neural connections in the brain.
  • The hands-on process of learning cursive develops the mind and fine motor skills.

After seeing the examples of several first graders' work, I was sold on the idea!

New American Cursive is a slightly different style than I grew up with learning but fairly easy to pick up.  With the help of Mr. Meercat, your child is taught one letter of the alphabet at a time.  When the letter is first introduced, the child is encouraged to say the letter, feel the letter, and then write the letter.  Little arrows are used to show where to start and how to correctly form each letter.  The next page has your child practice the upper case and lower case letter with an occasional word thrown in. At the end of the page, Mr. Meercat tells your child to circle their best letter.  The following page is a "Fun Exercises and Artwork" page.  This page has words to trace and copy using the letter you just learned as the beginning letter.  There is also a large blank space at the bottom of the page for your child to draw.  Each daily practice session should take no more than 15-20 minutes, oftentimes being shorter.  After three letters are taught, there is a page for just review.

As a parent, you can help your child in this process.  Memoria Press teaches you to remind your child of the three S's (size, slant and spacing) and shows you correct pencil hold and paper slant, even for the left handers out there.  Memoria Press also offers a StartWrite/NAC software that enables you to create your own review pages.  We have not used that product at this time.

How did we use this product?
Simply put - daily!   I believe that there is no better way to learn than by practicing, so that's what we did.  Each day I introduced a new letter, with Mr. Meercat's help of course, and then, under my watchful eye, Colby did the three associated pages.  On review day he did just one page.  At the end of each week, I wrote his name for him and had him copy it so I could visibly see the change in his ability!

The first name on the second and third picture are mine!

What do we think?
I have to admit, I really like this program!  While I am having to relearn a few letters that I write differently, I am pleased with the letter style taught and how it is done.  I think Memoria Press has found a good balance between enough practice to make a difference and not boring a child to death. The first few pages of the book are for a parent to read and include instruction on the ins and outs of the program, making it simple to open up and start without a ton of instruction.

Mr. Meercat entertained Colby.  Really, he did.  The cute illustrations capture a younger child's attention and make things a little more fun without being too silly.  The blank artwork space is a good addition for children who like to be more creative.

While I really wanted to teach our youngest cursive I have been hesitant, thinking it would be a painful process.  In reality, this 15-20 minutes of each day has been a fun and relaxing time for us to have together and I am thrilled to see progress being made.   From my experience, I would highly recommend you start this as early as possible, as old habits do die hard and can occasionally cause frustration with an older student.

Speaking of older students, Memoria Press does offer a program called Teach Yourself Cursive: For Adults and Older Students.  The workbook is designed to correct bad habits and instruct an older student in the elements of legible handwriting.  Guess what is now on my wish list?

You can purchase New American Cursive: Penmanship Program Workbook 1 by Memoria Press for $22.95.  Three levels are available as well as lesson plans and Cursive Visual Aids.

You can find Memoria Press at the following places-


Memoria Press Review
Crew Disclaimer