Thursday, April 10, 2014

I Haven't Given Up...I Promise!!!

Hi All!  It's been way too long since I posted anything on here, so now that I can push my kiddos out the door for fresh air, I can get caught up.  WHEW!

I haven't given up on my diet, I promise.  I have gained pounds and lost pounds and I am still dealing with my emotions and my relationship with One who can help me out.  I still have a terrible sweet tooth and want to overindulge even though I know better.  I found a recipe that I can go to where overindulgence doesn't completely undo my diet and I get to feel fulfilled.  So here is my little gem of a recipe...

Hilly's Lowfat Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

First, gather your ingredients...one cake mix of your preferred flavor (I chose Betty Crocker's Triple Chocolate Fudge), one can of pumpkin, 1/2 c. of water (not pictured because I'm awesome like that, and 1 c. of mini chocolate chips.  I also used a cookie scoop and two 24 ct. mini muffin tins

Next, if you're a coffee lover like I am, go ahead and make some so you will have it to enjoy with your finished product!

Empty the cake mix into a large mixing bowl

Add one cup of mini chocolate chips and combine well

Scoop in your pumpkin

Add 1/2 c. water to your mix and stir until well-combined.  Make sure you don't miss any of the batter on the bottom!

Spray your muffin tins.   I used two 24 count mini muffin tins.

I used a cookie scoop to add the batter to the muffin tins but any spoon will do.

Keep going...you're almost there!

Voila!  That's all there is to it.  Just bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes and enjoy! And hey, don't forget to pour a cup of coffee to enjoy with your muffins!













That's all there is to these easy, lowfat muffins.  They're a yummy indulgence when you can't afford to be "bad!"  Here's the formal recipe

Hilly's Lowfat Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins

1 cake mix--the flavor of your choice
1 c. mini chocolate chips
1/2 c. water
1 can of pureed pumpkin
nonstick cooking spray
muffin tins

Preheat your oven at 350 degrees.  Spray your muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix and chocolate chips.  Add 1/2 c. water and can of pureed pumpkin and stir until well combined.  Scoop into sprayed muffin tins.  Bake for about 15 minutes.  Cool and enjoy! Or just eat them warm out of the oven which is perfectly acceptable too!! :-)

Makes at least 48 mini-muffins.  You could probably get another 12 out of the mix if you make super small muffins.

Monday, March 10, 2014

February...shortest month equals busiest month!

February is usually a hectic month for our little family.  The weather begins to try to decide if it is still winter or if spring is on its way. By the way, I wait to see what the Lord has in store for the coming of spring and not the little rodent from Pennsylvania.  No offense to those who take the groundhog's prognosis personally, it's just not my cup of tea.

This February gave us snow, warm weather, fun, excitement and love in no particular order!


Thanks to flight cancellations, Dad got to come home early during one snowstorm and have a snowball fight with Big Red and Little Red.  I'm not sure who had more fun!
Big Red making a silly face while decorating cookies.

Little Red, in her PJ's, making a valentines card for one of her friends

Big Red making a card for his best friend Josh

The highlight of our month...Heading to Branson with my sweetheart for the Four States Couples Retreat, which is held yearly by a church in Springfield, Mo.  It was a wonderful, refreshing getaway and a chance to reconnect with my husband!   

Friday, March 7, 2014

Daily Challenges of a SAHM

This past week has been a trying one for me, mentally and physically, and everywhere in between, but so many in my life are fighting battles right now, which are far bigger than my petty woes.  I have tried to remain quiet regarding my issues and spend my time in prayer to get me through it.  By the time today (Friday) rolled around, everything seemed to mellow out.  On Wednesday this week my husband reminded me about reading a daily devotional we get through our church called "Baptist Bread."  The particular devotion for Wednesday, March 5, has proven to be another message sent by the Father Himself!

The Scripture featured was 1 Thessalonians 5:24-Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.

The author of the exerpt given is Mrs. Valerie Basham, who is a pastor's wife in Lawton, Oklahoma.  (By the way, I hope I don't get in trouble for mentioning this particular devotion from "Baptist Bread," but it really struck my heart!).  She gave a very personal testimony of how God has worked in her life.  She gave her life to the Lord when she was 16.  For the longest time, she felt like she was unqualified to be an example for young women and ladies to follow, as well as being as pastor's wife.  But God would inevitably put her in that very role later on in life.  She stated she finally understood why God made her a pastor's wife as well as a mother.  Those were both two jobs which always seemed to make her self-conscious and feel inadequate.  She really drove it home for my husband and I with this next sentence--

"Because of my inadequacy, I tend to seek His help more than if I worked at something I'm naturally good at...The Lord is pleased when I depend totally on Him."

Now, I'm not a pastor's wife, but I can certainly relate two roles in my life to Mrs. Basham's.  I am a mother too, and every day brings a new challenge.  Each of my children is a unique individual, while sharing some characteristics.  But when I really look at how important it is that I represent my role in my little family, I do feel a little overwhelmed.  I will delve into that in a separate post...

Another role I have taken on is that of a home educator.  One and a half years ago, I left my retail job of 14 years.  I liked my job and worked very hard at it.  I finally received a promotion in early 2012 and a couple months later my husband and I found out we were expecting our third child.  By the time summer began, the Lord was working on my heart.  Who would I leave my kids with, as they weren't quite school age?  Could we really afford daycare?  Did we want strangers raising our children?  My husband and I talked about it and prayed about it, and through grace and faith, God gave us the opportunity and the courage to allow me to stay at home with my kids.  Giving up my work identity was a big step for me and took a lot of getting used to.  Until now, my life was built up around this gigantic warehouse and its employees, some of whom were more than friends, they were an extended family.  But I quickly found myself assuming the role of home educator for our preschool aged son.  It has been an adventure for us both and this fall his younger sister will join us.

I know I may have over-explained myself, but these are two areas in my life in which I personally find myself feeling inadequate and wondering if I made the right choice.  Every day I feel challenged and I do ask God to show me that this is where I am meant to be.  Mrs. Basham's post made me feel better knowing I wasn't alone and it is a reminder that I need to rely more on the Lord.

"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."  Philippians 4:13. 

The role of a mother and teacher is very important.  Not only are my husband and I training our kids, but I am also shaping the foundation and building blocks of their educations.  Everyday I am terrified, yet honored by the privilege.  I pray every day for wisdom and strength for myself and all others who need to be reminded that they are never alone because the Lord is always with us.

I hope this helps someone out there because it has helped me express myself :)

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, so....today 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!!!
Hilly 

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. Sooooo...here 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. :-)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Catching up....Yikes

Well, we have been super busy with school and now we are in the thick of the holiday season, slammed somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's hard to believe the "big day" is in a little more than two weeks! I'm going to try and get things caught back up, hee hee. This first post will be about a trip Big Red and I took to Sedgwick County Park here in Wichita...it was a cool, dreary day and it ended up raining for several days straight. This day away just kind of reminded me why we are choosing to homeschool. Being able to think beyond the classroom and observe the world without so much structure is awesome. Big Red enjoyed himself. Hope you like the pics.
The trees had just started to turn colors and some beautiful leaves had fallen and stuck to the path.
Just walking along...
Some more beautiful views... One last look at a set of prints we found in the mud. We had some fun pretending it was a dinosaur or some other wild beast, LOL!
Hope you all enjoyed that...I have several more posts to come!