Friday, January 24, 2014

As our homeschool journey has progressed since the fall of 2012, I have learned that my son is a major league sensory learner...which means I have to tweak things just a little bit to help keep him engaged in learning.  Today, we made gel writing bags for the kiddos to use for learning their letters and numbers.  A friend from church who is a teacher suggested a project like this to keep Big Red interested in writing...

After about two hours of "Pinteresting" I decided I had better buckle down and decide on a project.  I found pictures, though, and no instructions, I am going to show you a tutorial on how to make Gel Writing "Tablets" for your littles.

Step One:  Gather Your Supplies:
I used three one gallon zippy bags, two big bottles of hair gel from the Dollar Tree, and three different colors of neon food coloring. I put down some newspaper on the table because I tend to be clumsy, but that's your call... 

Step Two:  Open that zippy....

Step Three:  Pour 1/2 of the bottle of hair gel into the zippy...

Step Four:  Add the food color of your choice and add the amount of it that you would prefer for desired color

Step Five:  This is the fun part!! Close up the zippy, being careful to push all the air out of the bag without pushing out the gel and coloring! Squish it all around and get it mixed in real well!

Step Six:  Use clear packing tape to seal the top of the zippy.  Note, this is very important if you don't want your curious kiddos to spread the colored hair gel all over your world! 

Step Seven:  Use and enjoy!  I put mine on top of a white plastic lid so it was easier to see the letters and shapes that we were able to "write" on the bags.  A paper towel or a piece of white copy paper taped to the table will work too.

Little Red really enjoyed writing on her "tablet!"

Big Red loved it and he is my guy who has to touch and taste and get his hands on everything in this world!

My big boy excited about his new "tablet!"

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on making your own gel writing tablets.  My littles love them and for only a few dollars, I think this thrifty Mama of three reds scored a winner!! 

Have a grrrrreat weekend!!!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Week One Down....Just the Beginning!

Okay, I started my quest to lose weight last week, officially weighing myself and joining Weight Watchers last Tuesday. So, today, I weighed myself to check in and see how my progress was. I have lost TEN pounds! I about had a heart attack when I stepped on the scale. Not from shock, but excitement. Weight Watchers was a helpful start for me, but again, my cousin Karen brought something to my attention. A little book called "Thin Within" by Judy Halliday, RN and her husband, Dr. Arthur Halliday, MD. On the cover of the book, it is described as "A Grace-Oriented Approach to Lasting Weight Loss."
I picked it up at the local library this past weekend and have immersed myself in it. I like this approach to weight loss because it isn't about food deprivation and harboring resentment for not being able to enjoy what you want. It is about addressing the issue within...why you feel compelled to overindulge and lie to others, yourself, and even God, about your intentions when it comes to eating. I feel God led my cousin to remind me about the book, which she had read in a blog that I happen to follow. He knew I would listen to her and look into it, since she said she had begun to read it. I also knew He led me to it because of what happened Saturday night. When asked about a choice of what to have for dinner, I told my husband that Chinese food sounded good. It was cheap, and yummy, and you get a lot of bang for your buck. In some dishes, you even get extra carbs, fat, other bad things, etc. Between a lack of funds and an "I know you know better look from my husband," I opted for a Weight Watchers version of Broccoli and Beef as well as Fried Rice. I was glad to get to have Chinese food, but when it came to dividing the food up and dishing up my own serving, I got mad because I had to measure. I know it's childish and ridiculous. And I felt the hand of God on my shoulder and after a while the resentment and anger went away. I was glad to be able to make something so yummy. Right after dinner, I threw myself into Thin Within and put Weight Watchers by the wayside. This was clearly a heart issue. I have managed to work out every other day, which also aids in the weight loss, but I know that through God's grace, I will lose the weight and achieve my goals :) Thank you for hanging in there with me. This is only the beginning. And I hope that you will give this book a look, especially if you are trying to lose weight or find yourself chronically dieting. There is help out there. And our Helper is omnipotent. And He always has our back, as long as we let Him! See you all next week! Hilly

Thursday, January 9, 2014

To Lose or NOT to Lose....

The decision to lose weight was one I was ready for. I felt "puffy faced" and ridiculously uncomfortable. The last time I felt this uncomfortable and wasn't pregnant and huge was back in the summer of 2004. I had just returned from a vacation with my Dad, Stepmom, and two step-sisters. I had a blast but I still had a hard time looking at pictures of myself. I just didn't feel like myself and I knew something had to give... FLASHBACK...
Now, that picture was taken in June...and naturally, hee hee, June gives way to July :-) By this point, my cousin Karen and I had decided we had had enough. So, we went down to the local Weight Watchers meeting place and signed ourselves up. I was living with Karen and her husband at the time, so we were able to learn together and challenge one another as we radically changed our lives, as well as all of our habits. Together we lost around 100 pounds in the course of about nine months. But...a lot has changed since then!! Life has happened. I got married in 2007, and between 2007 and the current day, we have had five kids between us. Jobs have changed, kids have grown, and Karen and Terry (and the boys) even moved out of state. It's been a happy time, mixed with its ups and downs. For me personally, the last year and half or so has been a real change of pace. I left my job in August 2012 after nearly 14 years. I became a stay-at-home Mom as well as a homeschooling Mom and a general domestic engineer. I had never been any of the above before and over the course of time, I let my emotions and situations control my habits. I recovered well from the birth of my third child in December 2012, better than my other two pregnancies. But it didn't take me long to pack on the "Freshman Fifteen (plus...)." I started feeling uncomfortable about looking at myself in pictures again and knew it was time for a change. I am. Needing another true life change. I am asking God to help me and my family through this, both mentally and financially. I have learned to be more thrifty since we have gone from two incomes to one, so now I am having to recalibrate my thriftiness to make this work. Eat less...move more (as my cousin just told me this morning!!). I did make a minimal investment...$18.95 to join Weight Watchers online, which will help me track my activity. But I have many valuable resources which should help us do the most with less! Firstly...a supportive husband who is also joining me on this journey. As well as our kids. :-) The local public library, which gives access to recipes and advice for changing the way my family and I eat and live!
Aldi's has definitely become my second go-to place. I am sooo thankful that I have one nearby! They have so many more, high quality, low cost natural, organic, and low fat options than ever before. I will share more as time goes on regarding my savings there.
Wal-Mart and Sam's Club is another good place to get affordable items. These were purchased at a local Neighborhood Market, using coupons, which brings me to my next helper....
COUPONS! COUPONS! COUPONS! Clip 'em, print them, whatever works out, just use them! There have been a lot here recently for more diet conducive items, so keep your eye out! Those are just a few helpers. I am going to keep this up, listing meals and their costs, both financially and nutritionally. Maybe someone will be helped out by the information. I am hoping, though, that it will be more of an accountability aid for myself. I won't stop making Pioneer Woman recipes because, well, they're just totally scrumptious. I just won't be able to make them as often, or might need to adapt them for our needs. I'm just praying for strength, wisdom, and will-power. :-)