Monday, March 31, 2014

Salt Dough Snowflake Suncatchers

Looking for crafty things to do during the cold, snowy days, I found a suncatcher garland at Homegrown Friends. That's something we haven't tried before, so we gave it a whirl.

We started with a basic salt dough recipe - 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt & 1 cup water. Mixed it all together, rolled the dough out & used a snowflake cookie cutter to make the snowflakes. We didn't have a smaller sized snowflake cutter, so we used a knife to cut out the middle. We had leftover baking crystals from a Makeit & Bakeit kit, so we used those to fill the middle of our snowflakes.

The snowflakes were then placed in a 375° oven for an hour and a half. The salt dough was done before then, but the baking crystals were taking awhile to melt completely.

After they cooled, we painted them white. While the paint was wet, we sprinkled on glitter.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Catching Snowflakes Oil Pastel

During the snow days we made wintery crafts. One of them being this Catching Snowflakes Art from oil pastels.  I saw 2 similar ideas on pinterest & combined the two to create our own Catching Snowflakes Art. One was from Runde's Room, the other Artsonia.

This was a simple, yet fun project. Our only supplies were construction paper, oil pastels, a pencil, scissors & a small piece of tape.

I made two templates for the kids to trace. They are the pink cutouts at the bottom of this photo. The one on the right is the face template & the one on the left is the shirt.

After tracing the templates, they drew a large, open mouth.

Coloring the mouth.

They drew & colored a scarf on their person.

The final step was adding the tongue catching a snowflake.
They cut a tongue out of pink construction paper & a tiny snowflake from white paper. We cut a slit in the mouth, placed the tongue through the slit & taped it on the back. Then they glued their snowflake on the tongue.

3 Kids Catching Snowflakes

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Weight Loss Results - Week 12

At the beginning of the year I committed to 3 months of eating right & exercising regularly. Technically there are 5 more days until the end of the 3 months, but I'm recording my results every 3 weeks & I am now at the 12 week mark. Did I reach my goal of losing 15 pounds?

For the most part, my food & drink habits are the same as they've been during this entire challenge.
Net calories consumed are the calories I ate minus the calories I burned. My goal is 1200 net calories a day. That's the red line on this graph. Since the beginning I've had an extremely hard time keeping to the 1200 calories. If I stay under 1500 calories, though, I'm happy. The days I've gone over 1500 are days I've gone out to eat and/or had a soda.

We are on Spring Break & went camping over the weekend, so I'm not on my regular routine. That, and the fact that I'm getting burned out with logging all my food & exercise meant I just didn't log anything this entire week. That's why there are no blue bars on those days.

I'm not trying to promote Spark in any way. But, it is a huge part of my weight loss. I've been replacing most of my soda with the 45 calorie, no sugar Spark. I'd love to break my soda habit completely, but I'm still struggling with that. I found a local consultant & ordered 2 canisters from her. It was tons cheaper than ordering it from Amazon. I like all 3 flavors I've tried so far - cherry, watermelon & pink lemonade.

Exercise is more or less the same, as well. I run on my elliptical machine about 5 times a week.

On the 16th, my hubby ran the 5k Shamrock Run with me. I'm so happy for this freebie photo of us crossing the finish line.

The straight line from March 18 - 25 is not because I weighed the same, it's because I didn't log my weight on those days. This graph shows that I went up .4 pounds from last week, but am down 2 pounds from my results 3 weeks ago.

This graph shows not just the last 3 weeks, but my entire journey starting January 1st. As frustrated as I am at this whole process, I am extremely happy the line is going down. It is going down slower than I would like, but at least I'm losing some weight.

Weight Loss
Week 1: Starting Weight
Week 3: -5.2
Week 6: -3.4
Week 9:  -.4
Week 12: -2
Total: -11 pounds

These were the goals I set for myself at the beginning of this journey & how I've been doing so far.
Short Term Goals:
• Lose 5 pounds each month for three months, for a total of 15 pounds. [I didn't make it. But, not from lack of trying. I truly didn't know how hard this was going to be... Or, maybe I did, which is why I never tried so hard before.]
• Make soda a rare treat, not an everyday drink. [This is still a challenge for me, but I'm doing ok with it.]
• Run 3-4 times every week [I'm happy to say that I'm still doing this.]
• Work up to doing 5 push ups.

I don't have any revolutionary thoughts from the last 12 weeks. I'm bummed I didn't make my goal of losing 15 pounds, but I'm happy about the 11 pounds lost. I weigh more than I should, but it's less than I've weighed in the last 2 years. So, I can't really complain. I'm headed in the right direction.

Now I need to regroup & come up with new goals.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Three Kings Day

To go along with our study of Mexico, we spent January 6th learning about Three Kings Day. It is 12 days after Christmas & celebrates the three wise men bringing their gifts to baby Jesus. We don't typically celebrate this day in our family, but many Latin Americans do so we explored it.

We started the morning with our version of Rosca de Reyes, or Kings' Bread.
Making bread is easy, but I needed something even easier that day. So, I used cinnamon rolls from a tube. I placed them in a crown shape & hid an almond in one of the rolls. The almond represented baby Jesus.

Traditionally the person who finds baby Jesus in the bread is supposed to host a party on February 2nd. Instead, I gave the kid who found the almond a 3 Kings Day Bar.

Representing the gifts of gold, frankincense & myrrh.

I don't usually have the scented warmer on & the kids really enjoyed having the school room smell good that day. And, of course they loved eating the chocolate coins.

Just for fun we played Spanish Bingo.
The template is from the Scholastic Monthly Idea books.

The kids made a craft I found at Crayola. It is very similar to a silhouette craft we made a couple years ago.
They began by painting their background with watered down paint, then adding salt to the wet paint. The salt soaks up the color and leaves "stars" in the sky. While the paint was drying they cut out their wise men & camel shapes out of black construction paper. Next, they painted a simple foreground. And finally, they glued their silhouette shapes to the painted paper.

This was a fun day expanding our knowledge about both Christmas & Mexico. These hands-on days are my favorite way to school my children.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Shamrock Run

Photo bombed by a leprechaun

Yesterday I ran my first 5k event of 2014: The Shamrock Run in Portland.

It is a big event with over 30,000 runners & walkers. As well as the 5k, there is also an 8k, 15k & kid's run.

I don't have a constant running partner & sometimes I run solo. But this time I talked my hubby into running with me. This is as close to a date as we get. We're not great running partners since I am much slower than him. But, he stayed back with me the entire run.

 Packet Pick Up
Picking up our bibs & shirts was an event in itself. This was no ordinary packet pick up. It was a Fitness Fair held at the Oregon Convention Center. I had my kids with me & they thought it was fabulous. There were lots of vendors handing out freebies & plenty of things to purchase.

I got in the women's XL line to pick up my shirt. The guys handing out the shirts said they ran a little small. And right away when I received the shirt my first thought was no way was it going to fit. I admit I was kind of bummed. Not so much because I couldn't fit into what they were calling an XL, but because that was their largest female size & if I didn't get it I'd have to get the men's unflattering shirt. Not a big deal. But, kind of a bummer. Before trading mine for a men's shirt, though, I stepped off to the side & pulled the shirt on over the regular shirt I was wearing. It was definitely way tighter than anything I typically wear. I always wear the non-form fitting, unflattering shirts. Mr. T right away said in such a sweet voice, "Mom, you look so skinny." I have not heard my name in the same sentence as skinny in years. I kept the women's XL shirt.

 Before the Race
We got up bright & early, took the kids to my parents & headed downtown. On our way to the start line, the 15k runners were going by. Thousands of them. We needed to get across the street, so we hopped in with the runners & zig zagged our way to the other side.

5K Runners waiting

Announcers, music & dancers kept us entertained while waiting for our start time of 9:20am.

Selfie of my bottom half while waiting to start the run.
We waited in line for about an hour. At other races I've gotten extremely bored waiting. This time it actually went by fairly quickly.

 The Race
The hubs & I just before the race started.
The 5k race started about 10 minutes later than scheduled due to a train going through and delaying one of the earlier races.

We finished!
I didn't take many pics along the way because I ran most of it. I get a better time & feel better along the way if I run at a faster pace & walk a bit when I get tired than if I run a slightly slower pace & try to run the entire thing. This run was no different. I walked a little & ran most. I ended up getting a personal record. Woo hoo!

I play such weird mind games with myself. As I was running & breathing hard, I felt tired & wondered how in the world am I ever going to meet my goal of finishing a half marathon. Then when it was over, I thought that wasn't so bad.

I was tired at the end. But, since I was able to smile for this pic just after crossing the finish line tells me I'm getting better at this running thing. There is no way I was smiling at the end of the first few 5k's I ran.

Thousands of other finishers.

After the Race
Stanford's served salmon chowder to the runners/walkers. It was only a tiny cup, but was the perfect amount. It was really good, but I'm not sure I could have eaten much more than that after running.

Beer was also served, but we skipped that. Not that I'm against alcohol, I just don't like beer.
We lucked out with the weather. It was raining at our house when we left & I was afraid we'd have a wet run. But, it only drizzled on us a little.

After running & eating the chowder we walked along the waterfront to old town.

Portland has a great Saturday Market with many vendors & lots of food. It was lunch time & we were hungry. I had a Philly cheese steak with onions & peppers. That is not something I ever order. The only other time I've had a Philly cheese steak was in Philadelphia at a place called Chubby's. But, that's what sounded good & it was delicious.

It was a great day & a great run. There was only one small thing that bummed me out. I use the Nike plus app when I run. It's great. It tells you how far you've gone, your pace in real time, your average mile pace, your finishing time, etc, etc, etc. It also gives you trophies like the one above if you've run your fastest 5k or ran your farthest distance or burned the most calories. For some reason, the app was glitchy today. It seemed to be tracking everything ok. And, for a few minutes after the run I could see a trophy stating that I ran my fastest 5k at 39:26. But, it also said that run wasn't synced. After those first few minutes, the trophy was gone. Apparently, it's gone forever. I think it's because it lost the information. The app also shows your pace per each mile & that is messed up for this run, too. It's not a big deal. But little things like fake trophies keep me motivated & show me when I've improved. I'm happy with my trophy from November, but I'd like it to be replaced with the new one I earned.

I'd call the day a success.
There was very little rain. The whole event seemed well organized. I spent time with my hubby - kid free. We both finished the race. I ran a PR. Back in August, I ran a 5k in 45:00 & was so happy. 7 months later, I ran it 5 minutes faster! I also felt better after this race than the one in August.

After such a good day, I need to  sign up for a bunch of summer 5k's while I'm motivated.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Weight Loss Results - Week 9


Another 3 weeks have gone by. So, it's once again time to see how I've been doing with eating better & regular exercise.

 • FOOD •
Average Net Calories in February = 1322/day
Chips. I ♥ chips.
The hardest thing about this weight loss is eating well. Shocker, I know. Last year I started running hoping that would knock off a few pounds. Nope, not even 1 pound lost. So, this year I knew I had to change my eating habits to make any significant changes. This is much harder than adding exercise to my day. My problem has always been that I like the good foods & eat them. But, I also like the bad foods & eat those, too.

Most days I still eat a salad for lunch.

Delicious! I stir fried veggies & shrimp in sesame oil, fish sauce, mirin, teriyaki sauce, ginger & garlic. So, so good. I think I will have to make this again today.

I should earn an award for this.
I picked up 11 pizzas, smelled their deliciousness while I was driving, got them to their destination & didn't even have one piece. I ♥ chips. But, I ♥ pizza even more.

I should earn a second award for this.
I ♥ chips, I ♥ pizza & I ♥ movie theater popcorn.
While watching a movie, instead of popcorn & a soda I had an atkins bar, pirate's booty & diet green tea. Truthfully, this was actually satisfying.

I'm still trying to stay away from soda. I think I did have more soda these last 3 weeks than I had the previous 6 weeks. But, it was still far less than my old habit & not even one every day. I realize that I could easily fall back into the soda habit... and that just can't happen!

I saw zipfizz at Costco and thought I'd give it a try. It seemed like it would be similar to the Advocare Spark that I love. And, it is kind of similar. It's a powdered energy mix I pour in a 24 oz. water bottle. Flavorwise, though, I much prefer the Spark - which is kind of a bummer since it's so expensive. But, if I'm going to stay away from soda it's got to be with something I like. So, I'll drink this zipfizz on occasion since I have it, but I'm going to stick with the Spark for my daily energy boost.

Exercised 22 out of the last 29 days
Most of my calories burned have come from the elliptical. I'm finding it extremely difficult to make it into town w/o the kids to run outside these days, but I did squeeze in 1 run in the last 3 weeks. I also did yard work on a couple of our non-rainy days. Most days I did at least a little something.


Weight Loss
Week 1: Starting Weight
Week 3: -5.2
Week 6: -3.4
Week 9:  -.4
Total: -9 pounds

Overall, I'm ticked off & confused - mostly ticked off. I shouldn't compare my journey with others. But, that's how I can gauge if the things I'm doing are "typical" & if I'm getting "typical" results. How do people lose even 2 pounds a week? I'm doing all I can without going to extreme measures & 2 pounds is just not happening for me.

I'm quite happy to be down 9 pounds from the beginning of the year. That's an average of 1 pound lost per week. The number on the scale these days is something I haven't seen in years. So, my changes have been working the tiniest bit. As I've said before though, I feel that my starting weight was a few pounds higher on January 1st due to the holidays & had I not changed a thing I'd have been back down those few pounds the next week anyway. So, I really feel as if I haven't even lost 1 pound per week.

I'm really trying. I've had a few off days where I ate more than I should have, including both Saturday & Sunday of this weekend. But, most days I do well. I averaged 1322 net calories/day in February. I don't even see how it's possible to net less than that. I'm not doing some extreme diet. I would never have stuck to it this long even if I had tried one. I'm just trying to watch the amount of calories I eat & get in exercise. Simply by keeping tabs on my calories makes me eat better. I can't have 3 slices of pizza & a soda for dinner & stay within my caloric range. Instead, I can have one slice of pizza, a salad & spark to drink.

I just don't know what I'm supposed to do differently. It's really frustrating to have not eaten the pizza at a celebration for my oldest son or not drink the soda I so badly want or have yet another friggin' salad for lunch & have almost nothing to show for it.

I'm not looking to be a size 2. I'm just wanting to lose a little weight & get out of the obese category. I know it's hard to lose weight when you're close to the ideal weight for your height. I'm nowhere near that weight, so why is it so damn hard?

-.4 pounds for the last 3 weeks?! My body is playing a terribly bad joke on me.

This is why I have given up in the past. I see only minimal results & I get frustrated. I've never worked this hard & I'm still only seeing minimal results.

I hate to end on a bad note with only complaints, so I will add something positive.

I didn't cancel my doctor appointment. I went. I've never had blood work done other than when I was pregnant. So, the doctor checked my cholesterol, sugar levels, thyroid & other things. I won't know the results of a few of the tests, including the thyroid, for a couple more days. But, I did find out the results of my cholesterol & sugar.

The doctor didn't say much about the sugar test except that it's within normal range. So, no diabetes or pre-diabetes. WooHoo! I thought it could be a possibility with my previous soda habit.

My cholesterol numbers were fabulous. The good, the bad, the overall - they were all better than average. So, it seems my cardiovascular health is in good shape.

My doctor didn't seem concerned with my weight. I'm not too sure what to make of it. I know darn well that I am in the obese category. I'm assuming since he knows I'm trying to make better choices, and my sugar & cholesterol levels are good that he doesn't need to preach about how dangerous it is to be overweight.

These were the goals I set for myself at the beginning of this journey & how I've been doing so far.
Short Term Goals:
• Lose 5 pounds each month for three months, for a total of 15 pounds. [These last 3 weeks certainly didn't help my goal, but they didn't hurt it either. I have 6 pounds to lose to reach my goal of 15 pounds. That would mean I need to lose 2 pounds a week for the next 3 weeks. With my results so far, it seems impossible. But maybe, just maybe, my body & mind will kick it in to high gear these next 3 weeks.]
• Make soda a rare treat, not an everyday drink. [This is still a challenge for me, but I'm doing ok with it.]
• Run 3-4 times every week [I've been exercising about 5 times a week. Yay!]
• Work up to doing 5 push ups.

Not much else to say except hopefully the next 3 weeks produce better results than the last 3 weeks.

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