Tot School: The Letter E

This week we learned about the letter E! It was a week full of elephants, excavators, and eggs! We started off our week with a trip to the San Diego Zoo to say hi to the elephants! My Letter E Curriculum is jam packed with SO many fun book suggestions and activities that we simply did not have time to squeeze everything in this week. Therefore, I am going to keep this post short and sweet, but I would love for you to check out the curriculum so you can learn and play with your little one at home!

You can purchase this full week of Letter E Curriculum on my TpT shop for just $5. If you want to buy the whole ABC bundle + save money, you can buy the growing bundle here!

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links! All that means, is that if you make any purchases through the links, I earn a small commission. I put a lot of work and love into these posts and curriculum and I really appreciate your support!

If you would like to download the alphabet book I created, you can purchase it for just $2 on my Teachers Pay Teachers Store!  The book is bright and colorful and image based.  I intentionally made the letters extra big and it is perfect for your little learner.

Week 5: The Letter E

Letter E Books

Elmer by David McKee

What to Do if an Elephant Stands on Your Foot by Michelle Robinson

Little Excavator by Anna Dewdney

The Empty Pot by Demi

An Extraordinary Egg by Leo Lionni

Eating the Alphabet by Lois Elhert

Letter E Curriculum

You can purchase a full week of letter E curriculum for just $5 on my TpT shop!  Within this curriculum, you will be given the calendar pictured above + all the activities I made for the week. The early learning standards are also included. The main intention behind this weekly curriculum is to give you some inspiration and structure! It is easy to get lost in the rabbit hole that is Pinterest, so I do the hard work of planning and brainstorming for you! All you need to do is print and have fun with your little one! 

Monday: Elephant Activities

As I mentioned above, we went to see elephants at the San Diego Zoo! Along with this fun trip to the zoo, we did a few elephant-themed activities. In terms of books, H was not interested in reading Elmer, but he really enjoyed What to Do if an Elephants Stands on Your Foot. Along with these books, we made our letter E looks like an elephant + did some Elmer coloring pages. All the Elmer-related activities can be found in the Letter E Curriculum on my shop. I also included some colorful elephants cards that are perfect for color or sorting or to use as a collage! H really enjoyed gluing the elephants on paper for an additional activity.

Tuesday: Excavator Activities

Excavators are one of H’s favorite construction vehicles! We did a fun size sorting excavator activity. H enjoyed these excavator cards and he liked sorting them on his own using the chart provided. Later in the afternoon, I made an excavator letter dig sensory bin for him. I shoveled in some dirt and threw in a set of his plastic letters. I encouraged him to find all the letters by using the excavator to dig them out.

Wednesday: The Empty Pot Counting

If you are looking for a good story that teaches about honesty and hard work, I recommend the book, The Empty Pot. This is a Chinese story about a little boy that plants a seed from an emperor and his pot stays empty the entire year. He tends to the seed with great care and consistency but nothing grows. Instead of being dishonest, he shows up to the emperor with an empty pot and explains to him that he tried his very best. I don’t want to ruin the ending, but this is a great story especially for older kids too! We did a simple counting activity to pair with this story. I gave H coffee beans to act as seeds to place and count in each pot!

Thursday:  Egg Activities

We read the book, The Extraordinary Egg. We then did the line tracing activity that pairs perfectly with this book. Again, line tracing is still pretty advanced for H, but this is great exposure for him. This week he was eager to attempt this skill, which was big progress!

Friday: Eating the Alphabet

We ended the week with Eating the Alphabet by Lois Elhert. I created a do-a-dot activity that goes along with the fruits and veggies in abc order! This is the perfect do-a-dot to pair with Elhert’s book. In the Letter E Curriculum, I also included some veggie and fruit letter matching cards that would make another great activity to pair this book with.

Letter E Sensory Bin

It was one of those weeks, so I don’t have a picture of our bin, but it looked very similar to previous weeks. Again, these sensory bins are perfect to throw together at the beginning of the week and leave out all week for your little one to look at and interact with.

You can purchase this week of curriculum for just $5 at my TpT store!

Tot School: The Letter D

This week we learned about the letter D! We did a bunch of fun activities full of dragons, donuts, and dump trucks. You can purchase this full week of Letter D Curriculum on my TpT shop for just $5. If you want to buy the whole ABC bundle + save money, you can buy the growing bundle here!

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links! All that means, is that if you make any purchases through the links, I earn a small commission. I put a lot of work and love into these posts and curriculum and I really appreciate your support!

If you would like to download the alphabet book I created, you can purchase it for just $2 on my Teachers Pay Teachers Store!  The book is bright and colorful and image based.  I intentionally made the letters extra big and it is perfect for your little learner.

Week 4: The Letter D

Letter D Books

Digger, Dozer, Dumper by Hope Vestergaard

When Dinosaurs Came with Everything by Elise Broach

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin

If You Give a Dog a Donut by Laura Numeroff

Letter D Curriculum

You can purchase a full week of letter D curriculum for just $5 on my TpT shop!  Within this curriculum, you will be given the calendar pictured above + all the activities I made for the week. The early learning standards are also included. The main intention behind this weekly curriculum is to give you some inspiration and structure! It is easy to get lost in the rabbit hole that is Pinterest, so I do the hard work of planning and brainstorming for you! All you need to do is print and have fun with your little one!  

Monday: Dumper to Digger Tracing Line Practice

This boy loves dump trucks and really any type of truck. I knew we had to have some type of dump truck-themed activity. We started by reading Digger, Dozer, Dumper. This is another hit for H and even though it is a longer book it is perfect for flipping through and finding the trucks that they are most interested in.

For the activity, we did the dumper to digger tracing line practice I created. This is one of the activities included in the Letter D Curriculum. H is 27-months and tracing lines is a bit advanced, but it is still great early exposure. I model what it looks like to trace the lines. And we did a few lines together. I let him try on his own after a fair amount of modeling and he did a lot of scribbling, but did a pretty good straight line. This is all just for fun, but I do think this early practice will help him in the next year when we focus on this skill more!

Tuesday: Dino Activities

There are so many good dinosaur books out there, but for this activity, we read When Dinosaurs Came With Everything. This is a great story, super fun, and amazing illustrations. We both enjoyed it. After reading through a couple times, we did a couple themed dinosaur activities. We did the “Color and Count Dino” activity from my curriculum. These are similar to my previous counting mats, but I added a coloring element. This is great for early counting exposure and for continuing to review colors. H is still very much a scribbler, but having smaller dinosaurs to color gave him a bit more focus and target while coloring. Every week he seems to be a little more invested in these counting activities, which makes his mama happy.

For the letter D in the alphabet book we are working on, I setup some paint and small dinosaurs for him to make dino tracks on the letter. This is usually an activity H would love, but this afternoon he was not as interested. So he did a few marks and then quickly moved on to playing in the dirt with his dump trucks!

Wednesday: The Dot + Do-A-Dot the D

This was our first time reading The Dot and I really loved it! I really loved the way the teacher hangs Vashti’s single dot in a special gold frame. This framing was the very thing that encouraged Vashti to more seriously pursue being an artist. It is a wonderful reminder of the important role we as parents and teachers have to encourage and motivate our children to dream big.

There so many fun dot-related activities to pair with this book. We did a do-a-dot for the letter Dd and I gave him a printable to create his own masterpiece. I put out watercolors, crayons, and do-a-dots and let him be creative with this open-ended activity.

Thursday:  Make a Dragon a Taco

We read Dragons Love Tacos, which was the favorite of the week. We definitely read this book the most out of all of them! The activity I designed to pair with this book, really works on fine motor skills (folding, cutting, tearing). Using the printables included in “Make a Dragon a Taco” activity, simply cut out the tortilla, tomato, lettuce, cheese, beef, and hot sauce. To make this activity even more interactive, I also cut out the instructions for each one and put it in a separate envelope. This allowed for H to get the chance to open 6 different envelopes, which increased his overall excitement and engagement towards the activity. We worked on folding skills (tortilla), cutting skills (tomato and beef), and tearing paper skills (lettuce and cheese). Some of these skills are still tough for H, but he really enjoyed the concept of pretending to make food and even enjoyed pretending to feed it to the dragon! This is a fun, hands-on activity, that really encourages imagination and creativity!

Friday: Donut Activities

We started our donut-themed day, with a late morning snack of “healthy donuts.” Instead of fried dough, think apple slices, and instead of sugary frosting, thinking pink cream cheese with sprinkles on top! These turned out yummy and H was totally obsessed with them. I felt so much better with him snacking on these donuts over real ones. To H, as long as there are real sprinkles, these treats are just as good as the real thing.

As we munched on these, I read If You Give a Dog a Donut. We loved this book and especially love that there is a part about baseball!

Later in the afternoon, I made H an activity mat using butcher paper that had more fun donut-themed activities! I had a section for him to build-a-donut with a paper plate, paint, and colorful pipe cleaners. There was another section with the donut printable from Letter D Curriculum. I gave him crayons and encouraged him to color “sprinkles” on the big letter D’s and to color the small letter d’s brown to be the “dough”. He mostly just colored it the way he wanted, but this printable is still great for letter recognition as the donut is covered in the letter Dd!

Also, I want to note that for some reason, this week H was not interested in sitting down and participating in any of the paint-related activities. He had no interest in creating a donut. He was also just not interested in a lot of the things I presented to him this week. That is ok! It can be frustrating, but just like adults, toddlers have tough weeks and they are not always going to feel like doing things they normally enjoy. I am slowly learning to be okay with this. My hope is to always keep learning at this age light, fun, and flexible!

Letter D Sensory Bin

This is what our letter D sensory bin looked like this week! Again, these sensory bins are perfect to throw together at the beginning of the week and leave out all week for your little one to look at and interact with.

You can purchase this week of curriculum for just $5 at my TpT store!

Summer 2020 Reflections: Finding a Place of Peace, Purpose, and Play

We are holding onto these final days of summer for as long as we can.  The summer of 2020 has been strange to say the least. It was not the summer we expected or even the summer we hoped for, yet still, somehow, it was the one we needed.  It was simple.  It was full of sunshine and salty air.  It was the summer we learned to let go.  The one in which we shared the joy of our pregnancy and also shared the grief as we lost our sweet babe.

Summer 2020, you were beautiful and hard, you were joyful and sad, and you were long and short.  

I want to write this down here because I do not want to forget how this summer made me feel.  It has been filled with some of the most painful days, but somehow, through the grace of God, I have laughed and enjoyed these summer days more than I have in a long, long time.  

Here is a list of what this summer meant to me:

  • A Positive pregnancy test
  • Joy, joy, joy
  • Bike rides
  • Fireworks that lasted all night long
  • Yosemite with good friends
  • Hikes and waterfalls and skipping rocks
  • Trash trucks
  • 4 mile runs 
  • New friendships 
  • Loss and waiting rooms and ultrasounds that make your heart drop
  • Grief, grief and more grief
  • The couch
  • Family and friends showing up and loving us in such tangible ways
  • Malibu
  • Pickleball 
  • Kayaking in the bay 
  • Margaritas that make you sad that you can drink them 
  • The beach almost everyday
  • Spontaneity 
  • Ocean swims 
  • Letting go
  • Loosening up on bedtime 
  • Drives to San Clemente and San Diego
  • Golf cart rides after the beach 
  • Boat ride with dear friends
  • Outdoor Church gatherings 
  • Scooter-Walks as a family 
  • Afternoon reading on the couch 
  • Riding in the back of a pickup truck of newlyweds (true story, and something I will never forget)
  • Adjusting expectations 
  • Leaning in
  • Staying present 
  • Long hair and very tanned legs

This was our summer.  It was weird.  It was hard.  It was beautiful.  It drew me closer to the Lord, it brought me to my knees, and brought us to the ocean again and again and again.

As a former English teacher, I always love pulling out a theme.  And after reading over this list a few times and thinking of the big moments of our summer, I found a pretty strong and important theme.  It is one that I think I needed to learn and figure out this summer.  It is something especially helpful to have when walking through painful seasons, but important to have in your back pocket regardless.  Ready for it?  

This summer I learned the importance of finding a place of peace, purpose, and play.

Before we walked through our miscarriage, I do not think I had strongly identified what these three places in my life were.  I had peace, but not a specific place.  I had purpose, but I never named it.  I had play, but never for myself.  

This summer changed that for me. And I feel like I actually figured out my place of peace, purpose and play. Do you know yours? Think about it. Name it. Figure it out.  For me personally, it has been so essential in my healing process.  We all are walking through stuff.  Maybe this summer for you was about the joy, and that’s great, but can you name your place of peace, purpose, and play?  And if this summer has just been plain hard, do you know what these places are for you? And if so, I hope you can go to them again and again.

In case you were curious, here are mine.

My Place of Peace

The ocean.  No questions asked.   The beach has been our place of healing.  It has been one of the few places that make sense.  It is our peace place.  Our morning spot. Our late afternoon spot. Our Sunday evening post-dinner spot.  It is where we come to exhale the anxiety and inhale God’s peace.  

My Place of Purpose

Purpose has always been something really important to me.  In high school and college, my purpose was mostly running/performance-based.  Post-college, it was teaching-based as I started a new career as a high school English teacher.  Postpartum, my purpose seemed to get fuzzy.  Of course, it was within motherhood, but I did not even know who I was as a mom, let alone my purpose in being that mom. 

Two years and one miscarriage later, I finally feel at home in my purpose. It is pouring into my son.  It is teaching and guiding and showing.   Right now my purpose is in being my son’s teacher.  This is my full-time job.  And I am proud of it.  I might not get paid for it, but this is where my heart is and I know it matters deeply.  This all clicked for me one summer evening, when I walked into Lance asking Hudson who his teacher was.  Hudson without even thinking, instantly said, “mommy”.  And my heart melted. We never talked about how I was teaching him different things, but just based on our days together, he instinctively knew I was the teacher in his life.  This has changed a lot for me.  I have a newfound purpose. Yes, motherhood, but it really is much more specific than that.

My Place of Play 

This summer we carved out more play into our days and it made all the difference. It was a week or so after my D & C procedure that we picked up my mom’s pickleball set. We brought it with us to rally together after dinner. We went down by the ocean and rallied back and forth. We laughed. We were competitive. And we were focused on something outside of our sadness. Playing pickleball brought back laughter into our days. It drew us closer in a season that easily could have caused drifting. It was a simple source of joy. When you are going through hard things, picking up pickleball might not always make the most sense, but for us, it was one of the best decisions we made in our grief. Pickleball brought healing. It brought back play into our lives.

If you too had a hard summer, one full of unmet expectations and disappointments, know that I am right there with you. Even in the hard, my hope is that you too can find some silver linings and that this time of heartbreak can allow you to fully lean into what is right before you.

Tot School: The Letter C

This week we learned about the letter C! We did a bunch of fun activities full of cars, cows, and cupcakes. You can purchase this full week of Letter C Curriculum on my TpT shop! And if you are eager to jump ahead to the Letter D Curriculum, you can purchase that now as well!

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links! All that means, is that if you make any purchases through the links, I earn a small commission. I put a lot of work and love into these posts and curriculum and I really appreciate your support!

If you would like to download the alphabet book I created, you can purchase it for just $2 on my Teachers Pay Teachers Store!  The book is bright and colorful and image based.  I intentionally made the letters extra big and it is perfect for your little learner.

Week 3: The Letter C

Letter C Books

Little Cloud by Eric Carle

My Car by Byron Barton

Corduroy by Don Freeman

The Cow Loves Cookies by Karma Wilson

If You Give a Cat a Cupcake by Laura Numeroff

Letter C Curriculum

You can purchase a full week of letter C curriculum for just $5 on my TpT shop!  Within this curriculum, you will be given the calendar pictured above + all the activities I made for the week. The early learning standards are also included. The main intention behind this weekly curriculum is to give you some inspiration and structure! It is easy to get lost in the rabbit hole that is Pinterest, so I do the hard work of planning and brainstorming for you! All you need to do is print and have fun with your little one!  

Monday: Cloud in the Jar + Fill the Cloud Activity

After reading Little Cloud by Eric Carle, we did a hands-on science experiment by making our own “clouds.” For this activity, simply take a jar, fill with water, and spray a small amount of shaving cream to make the cloud.  In a separate dish, prepare some blue water.  Using eye droppers, H dropped the blue water on top of the “cloud”.  We then watched as the blue water began to “rain” in the jar. This was a really cool visual and hands-on activity.  

Using the “Fill the Cloud” printable, I let H dip cotton balls into Elmer’s glue and fill the cloud.  We did this in a park, so after placing a few cotton balls, he was off to running around.  Hey, at least he was engaged for a minute! 

Tuesday: Car Activities

In our preschool pod this week, we read My Car by Byron Barton.  This was definitely H’s favorite book of the week. The language is super simple and the illustrations are bright and engaging. 

For the letter C alphabet book activity, we used cars to make paint tracks over the letter C.  You can get the alphabet book for just $2 here.  Painting with cars was a hit by all the boys! We even did a “car race.”  I simply set up butcher paper with a start and finish line and the boys “raced” their cars.  

The “Park the Car” activity is another fun one and great for both reviewing colors and beginning to work on word recognition.  For this activity, I printed, laminated, and cut the cars out.  I put the colored parking lot in a plastic sleeve.  I simply handed H a car and asked him to match it to the right parking spot.  I even brought this activity with us to a restaurant and it was a great way to distract him for a few minutes.  

Wednesday: Corduroy Do-A-Dot + Button Stringing

We started off the day with the beloved classic, Corduroy by Don Freeman.  After we read this book together, Hudson did a letter C do-a-dot themed off of Corduroy.  These cute little printables are included in my Letter C Curriculum.

To work on fine motor skills, I printed out the colored buttons, laminated them, and put 2 hole punches in each of them.  I got a piece of yarn and put tape on one end to help with threading.  This was a new skill I was introducing to H, so I modeled how to thread the string and then let him take a try. He was able to get it through one hole, but that was about it.  I will continue placing this activity out to give him some more fine-motor practice.  This is another great activity to review colors! 

Thursday:  Visit a Cow + Cookie Counting

We went to Zoomar’s in San Juan Capistrano and got the chance to say hi to a cow named Jersey. It was not exactly the cow H was picturing, but he still really enjoyed seeing an actual cow. He talked about it all day.  

Later that afternoon, we read Cow Loves Cookies by Karma Wilson and did some chocolate chip counting.  These are very similar counting mats to the other mats in the previous weeks of curriculum.  Using similar counting mats each week is a great way to get your little one more comfortable with the skill presented. 

Friday: Build-A-Cupcake Play-Dough Tray + Place the Sprinkles on the C’s

I setup a really fun play-dough tray to go along with the book, If You Give a Cat a Cupcake.  For the play-dough, I made a frosting one. I used Mothercould’s recipe that calls for 1 cup frosting + 3/4 cups cornstarch.  I ended up having to add a ton of flour and it was still was pretty sticky and made a mess! But hey, H loved it…my husband not so much!

This is a great outdoor play-dough tray since it can get a bit messy.  Despite the stickiness, H loved using the ice cream scooper to scoop the dough into the cupcake tray.  He also loved sticking in the candles.  Again, this is great fine motor practice + open ended creativity!

We wrapped up the week by continuing to work on our fine motor skills and moving the sprinkles to cover the C’s on the cupcake.  This activity is also in the Letter C Curriculum.  I printed and laminated this printable. I cut out all the sprinkles and cut each cupcake into its own card.  I realized that the sprinkles were a bit difficult to move with our fingers, so we used a Q-tip to move the sprinkle to cover the C.

Letter C Sensory Bin

This is what our letter C sensory bin looked like this week! Again, these sensory bins are perfect to throw together at the beginning of the week and leave out all week for your little one to look at and interact with.

You can purchase this week of curriculum for just $5 at my TpT store!

Tot School: The Letter B

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links! All that means, is that if you make any purchases through the links, I earn a small commission. I put a lot of work and love into these posts and curriculum and I really appreciate your support!

This week we learned all about the letter B! It was a week full of blueberries, bumble bees, and baseballs! There are SO many fun things that begin with the letter B and so many amazing books out there. This was a really fun week of learning and I hope it can inspire you! As always, you can purchase this full week of Letter B Curriculum on my TpT shop! And if you are eager to jump ahead to the Letter C Curriculum, you can purchase that now as well!

If you would like to download the alphabet book I created, you can purchase it for just $2 on my Teachers Pay Teachers Store!  The book is bright and colorful and image based.  I intentionally made the letters extra big and it is perfect for your little learner.

Week 2: The Letter B

Letter B Books

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

Orville the Bumble Bee Who Didn’t Believe He Could Fly by Don Haselrig

Let’s Play Baseball by Charles R. Smith, Jr.

Three Bears on a Boat by David Soman

Watch Me Grow Butterfly by DK Publishing 

Letter B Curriculum

You can purchase a full week of letter B curriculum for just $5 on my TpT shop!  Within this curriculum, you will be given the calendar pictured above + all the activities I made for the week. I also list the early learning standards. The main intention behind this weekly curriculum I am making, is to give you some inspiration and structure! It is easy to get lost in the rabbit hole that is Pinterest, so I do the hard work of planning and brainstorming for you! All you need to do is print and have fun with your little one!  

Monday: Blueberry Activities

After listening to the read-aloud version of Blueberries for Sal on Youtube, we did a couple blueberry-themed learning activities. I brought out the Do-A-Dot markers for the first time in awhile and H was very into it. These are one of my favorite art supplies. It is active and Hudson gets really into stamping the paper, but it never creates much of a mess, which I love! I created a B and b for him to dot to work on letter recognition. This printable is included in the B week curriculum!

We then did the “Put the Blueberries Back on the Bush” activity. H worked on his fine motor skills to place blueberries on the blue circles I scattered throughout the bush printable. This activity could also be done with blue pom poms! We capped off our learning day by making some yummy blueberry muffins.

Tuesday: Build-A-Bee B Activity + Happy Bee Coloring

In this week’s preschool pod, we read Orville the Bumble Bee Who Didn’t Believe He Could Fly. We then did the activity, “Pin the Stripes on the Bee.” All the parts of the bee and the yellow B is within the Letter B curriculum. We cut out all these parts and created the bee in the letter B page of our alphabet book. You can get the alphabet book for just $2. All you need for this activity is the printable pages in the curriculum, glue, googly eyes, and pipe cleaner for antennas. We also used the “Bee is Happy!” coloring pages and talked about emotion. This is a light way to get little ones comfortable talking about their feelings.

Wednesday: Baseball Activities

If you know H, you know one of his very favorite things is playing baseball. We had to incorporate some baseball-themed learning this week! We read Let’s Play Baseball, which quickly became a favorite of his. I used the baseball pattern building cards from this week’s curriculum. I made a few extra copies to put in plastic sleeves to show him the pattern. The other copies, I printed, laminated and cut out. This is a fun way to work on matching skills, sorting skills, and pattern building. This felt a bit too advanced for H, but I will definitely bring these out again in a few weeks!

H was antsy to stay moving, so to keep the lesson going a bit longer, I brought out his baseball tee and we played a color review game! I simply called out a color, and he would find that color ball from the bin and hit it from his tee. He was super into this. He really has his colors down now, so this was an easy and fun game. Early on in quarantine, we did color-themed weeks, which I really think helped him get his colors down quickly. You can find all those color-themed ideas here: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.

Thursday:  Beach Trip + Blue Seashell Scavenger Hunt

Learning at the beach is always a good idea. The beach really is the perfect setting for creativity, play and exploration. If you do not live near a beach, you could always setup an indoor beach at home! At the beach with friends, we read Three Bears on a Boat. While this story is on the longer side, it was hands down one of my son’s favorite books all week. It is a really well-told story about 3 sibling bears that break their mother’s blue seashell. They set sail on a boat in an effort to find a new blue seashell to replace it. I don’t want to give too much away, but this is a really excellent book and is filled with letter B words: bears, boat, blue!

The blue seashell scavenger hunt is the perfect pairing for this story. Again, this activity can be found in the Letter B Curriculum. For this activity, I simply printed out the shells, laminated them, and stuck a few around us in the sand. H and his friend gathered all the shells and we worked on sorting the shells based on A or B. This is an easy way to review the letter A from last week.

I also set up a little boat sensory bin. I brought an aluminum tray, filled it with ocean water, and put in a few boats. This was a great invitation-to-play.

Friday: B Wings Watercoloring + Butterfly Counting Mats

We ended the week, focused on butterflies! In an effort to get some more non-fiction reading into our week, I included, Watch Me Grow Butterflies. This book is really interesting and we both found it fascinating to look at the real pictures of the life cycle of a butterfly. It truly is amazing.

The “Catch and Count Butterfly” mats were much more of a hit than the alligator counting mats from last week. We counted butterflies and I helped him trace the numbers. He seemed to really enjoy the bright blue color of the butterflies.

After some counting, Hudson enjoyed some watercoloring! Mom and dad painted our own butterflies, while Hudson used the B-winged butterfly that is included in the curriculum! This final lesson of the week was the perfect one to do as a family. While it can be difficult to get the whole family together for learning time, I noticed that H was much more involved and interested in the lesson with dad being involved!

Letter B Sensory Bin

This is what our letter B sensory bin looked like this week! Again, these sensory bins are perfect to throw together at the beginning of the week and leave out all week for your little one to look at and interact with.

You can purchase this week of curriculum for just $5 at my TpT store!

Tot School: The Letter A

This school year is feeling strange for us all.  For us, things don’t feel quite as weird since we are not yet at the school-aged stage, but it still has bummed me out that we can’t attend the toddler class we were originally enrolled in. 

It is still really important to me that Hudson gets a year full of learning and play!  I am the type of person that needs a very clear plan and structure to make this happen.  I have pulled on some of my teacher skills, and I have begun the process of making a 26-week ABC curriculum.  This will help kick off our Tot School/Mommy Play-school (basically think of it as the pre-preschool). 

Quick side-note, if you too have a 2-3 year-old and would like to implement a Tot School at home with your little one, I have found this resource from Mrs. Plemon’s Kindergarten to be super helpful. 

I am creating this as we go, but this first week has proven to be a lot of fun!  Most of the learning and activities will take place within our home, but I have coordinated with a few mom friends to add a social element (we are being careful and safe, but after months of very minimal social interactions with friends, H and I both desperately need this social space).  With one set of friends, we will be doing weekly adventure field trips.  With the other set of friends, we will be decorating the letter of the week and reading a book together.

  If you would like to download the alphabet book I created, you can purchase it for just $2 on my Teachers Pay Teachers Store!  The book is bright and colorful and image based.  I intentionally made the letters extra big and it is perfect for your little learner.

Each week, I will be summarizing our week of learning here on the blog. I will be linking to the books, products and resources we use!  I hope you find this helpful and fun!

Week 1: The Letter A

Letter A Books

Amazing Airplanes 

Ten Apples Up on Top by Dr. Seuss 

There’s An Alligator Under My Bed by Mercer Mayer 

How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman 

Hey Little Ant by Phillip H. Hoose 

Letter A Curriculum

You can download a full week of letter A curriculum for FREE on my TpT shop!  If you download it, I would love for you to leave a review!  Within this curriculum, you will find a weekly calendar that gives you a book and an activity for each day of the week! I also list the early learning standards.  Within the curriculum, I give you a few learning activities to do at-home.  I also outline some activity ideas not included in the packet. The main intention behind this weekly curriculum I am making, is to give you some inspiration and structure! It is easy to get lost in the rabbit hole that is Pinterest, so I do the hard work of planning and brainstorming for you! All you need to do is print and have fun with your little one!  

Monday: Airplane Park Field Trip + Airplane Size Sorting

We went to Jose Del Valle Park in Lakewood.  Of course, most of this park is still closed, but we did all of our activities by the big airplane structure within the park. It made for fun photos and was the perfect setting for learning about airplanes! We read some airplane books, made paper airplanes, and did the airplane size sorting activity (in free curriculum here).  This is a simple activity and works best if you laminate the airplanes so they are sturdy and can be used again and again.  This activity is great for color recognition + size sorting!  I found it worked best as an invitation-to-play. I simply set it out in our living room and Hudson gravitated right towards it. 

Tuesday: Letter A Apple Stamping 

Each week, we are going to decorate the letter of the week!  By the end of the 26 weeks, I will laminate each letter and bind it together in a book. This will be a great keepsake for H and his friends!  If you too would like to create an alphabet book with your little one, you can purchase it for just $2 on my Tpt Store.  This week, we read Ten Apples Up on Top and then decorated the letter A by stamping apple halves.  This is a fun and simple activity!  We of course added a bit of glitter at the end for fun!

Wednesday: Alligator Counting Activity 

In the afternoon, after Hudson’s nap, I set up an outdoor classroom for him since it was so hot in our house. We read There’s An Alligator Under My Bed by Mercer Mayer.  This is a new favorite book of ours and is perfect for the letter A week.  During this particular read-aloud, I really emphasized the word alligator and had H point to the alligator on each page. He was really into it.  The counting part of the lesson, he was not as into, but this will take time. He is only 2!  We kept it light and fun as we worked on our counting skills from 1-5.  Again, you can get these “How Many Alligators Are Under My Bed?” counting mats for FREE when you download my Letter A Week Curriculum

Thursday: Apple Pie Scissor Cutting Tray + Apple Pie Making 

This day was all about apple pie! In the morning, I set up a really simple scissor cutting practice tray. These apple pie printables are a fun way to practice scissor cutting skills and work on understanding parts of a whole. This was a bit advanced for my 2-year-old, but would be perfect for your 3-4 year-old. We focused on working with scissors to cut our pretend apple pie made of play-dough.

In the afternoon, we read the book, How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World. Then, we worked in the kitchen and with some help from Grammy and Auntie, made a delicious apple pie! Another great way to make this activity more toddler-friendly, is to buy pre-made pie dough and just have your little one mix apple filling and place in pie tin. The whole process of making a pie was a bit too long for little H.

Friday: Ants Go Marching Activity + Ants on a Log Snack Making 

To finish off the week, we focused on ants! I set-up a make-your-own ants on a log snack tray. I let H do it all on his own. He really enjoyed the independence. This is a fun snack tray and a built-in activity that only requires celery sticks, peanut butter, and raisins!

After this activity, we listened to the Ants Go Marching One by One and used the little laminated ants I made to form the A and a (this activity is also in my free letter A curriculum). Again, H was not as into this, but we will eventually get there. It was still a great activity to show H what the Aa looks like and it paired nicely with the book, Hey, Little Ant. We both really enjoy this story and it is a great one for teaching about different perspectives.

Letter A Sensory Bin

At the start of each week, I will be creating a sensory bin with all letter A things for Hudson to look at and interact with throughout the week.

You can download this week of curriculum for free at my TpT store!

Our Story of Miscarriage

The following is our story walking through miscarriage. I wrote everything as we were going through it. It might feel a bit rambling and disjointed at parts, but hey, that is the sound of grief.

My heart literally feels like it is on fire.  My stomach feels empty and dead.  My vision feels blurry from all the crying.  My soul feels weary. 

Literally two days ago, we were scheduling the date of our gender reveal as we found out I would be able to take a 10-week blood test to find out our baby’s gender.  Now, instead of the gender reveal on the calendar, I have a week full of blood work, doctor’s appointments, and a scheduled D&C surgery. 

Things certainly have taken a turn. 

Our dialogue in the past week has been light and fun.  I bet we are having a girl. No, we are definitely having a boy.  How should we do the reveal? Should Hudson hit the ball or throw the ball?  

Oh how I wish we could back to these simple dilemmas.

Now everything feels different.  Most of our dialogue is in-between tears.  There are long stretches of silence and loud, painful wails.  There are words about blood work and hCG levels and D&C surgery.  

My talks with the Lord have definitely been different lately.  There has been less words. More pauses.  A few more questions.  But in this season where I can’t really find the exact words to pray, I am still finding myself saying, I know you are in this Lord.  We trust you. We love you.   

Even in the darkness, I can’t help but feel God’s hand over all of this.  I feel Him in the loving text messages we have received.  In the extra snuggles Hudson has so generously offered over to us.  In the early morning prayers.  In the most beautiful bouquet of flowers. He is caring for us in such tangible ways.  

We have been so surrounded by love and prayers. We are so thankful for our family and community of friends that love us so well.

The Ultrasound that Changed Everything

It has been a few days since I last wrote.  If I am honest, writing is not really the thing I want to be doing right now. Mostly, I just want to watch Gilmore Girls and eat warm doughnuts and sit on the couch.  But, I forced myself to get up early this morning because I know this time is sacred and I do want to put into words how I have been feeling lately.

I actually want to start back on Friday.  The day everything changed for us.  Due to Covid, Lance was unable to come with me to any of the doctor’s appointments.  With our pregnancy with Hudson, he literally came to every single appointment.  Initially, we both felt disappointed that he could not see our baby on the ultrasound, but I promised to video it for him.  Little did we both know that him not being there would be so incredibly lonely for us both.  I needed Lance and he couldn’t even sit with me in the lobby.  

The whole process of the appointment made everything worse. I still believe it could have been handled with so much more sensitivity and kindness. I get it.  Sadly, miscarriage is common.  1 in 4 common.  This is another day for these doctors and nurses, but for us, it is literally the worst day of our lives.  It is our greatest fear coming true. 

The Texting Ultrasound Tech

Everything felt so procedural. During the ultrasound, there was no explanation or anything as to why the baby looked so tiny and motionless.  I asked if everything was okay because he or she looked so small and the ultrasound tech simply replied with, yes, looks small.  Again, I get it.  I don’t think he legally was able to directly tell me the baby was not alive, but why couldn’t he have grabbed the doctor so she could directly tell me? Instead, he told me to go back to the lobby and the doctor would review the results with me.  

So I silently sat myself back down.  This time I could not read my book that I was easily flipping through a few minutes prior to that terrible ultrasound.  I texted Lance, something is wrong. And then I began to Google incessantly. 

Is it okay if baby is measuring 8 weeks when you are supposed to be 10 weeks pregnant?

Are there special cases where heartbeat is not detected at 8 weeks?

Are there reasons ultrasound tech does not talk much during ultrasound? 

Symptoms of miscarriage.

And I did this for an hour and a half alone.  Do you know how long an hour and a half feels when you are unconfident about the health of your baby? Eternity.  Especially when you are sitting alone.  

I have replayed this window of time in my head over and over again.  And the thing that sticks with me most is that ultrasound tech guy.  As I Googled with tears in my eyes and became increasingly more certain that the news I was waiting for would not be good news, I heard him laughing.  He was laughing and texting and chatting.  He knew my baby was not alive.  Again, I get it.  He sees this type of thing often.  He does not know me or my life or all our hopes and dreams we had for this baby.  Yet still, the casualness of it all, stings my heart.  

Mask Full of Tears

When I was finally called into the doctor’s office, the doctor was quick to deliver the words I had been dreading for an hour and a half.  It looks like you are having a miscarriage.  

I tried to hold it together.  But within seconds,  the tears flooded and were held within my mask.  

The doctor was kind, but she was also very medical.  Saying things like this is so common, 1 in 4 pregnancies result in miscarriage, it is nothing you did, chromosomal abnormality. 

Yet still, it felt too numbers-based.  Too-medical.  Not enough compassion. 

She explained the next steps.  Blood work, follow-up ultrasound, and scheduled D&C surgery.  And that was it.  Still in the middle of tears, I was expected to go back out there, see that ultrasound tech as he continued to text on his phone, and make my next appointment that would confirm our greatest fear.  

I felt so vulnerable and alone.  I needed a second.  So I went to the bathroom. Ran cold water on my face.  Took a few deep breaths.  Whispered to myself everything is going to be okay.  Put on a fake smile and went out to make the appointment.  

Procedural Coldness

Again, I was met with procedural coldness.  I don’t know exactly what I was expecting.  Maybe a look in my eyes and a gentle smile.  Maybe a word of encouragement.  Instead, it was all business.  She handed me over the forms of blood work that had hCG and abortion highlighted on it. Seeing that word “abortion” on the blood work forms brought me such intense sadness. Did you know that? Did you know that the medical term for miscarriage is abortion?   Over the course of the week I had to see that word on every paperwork I signed and confirmed. Words are powerful. Every time I saw that word it stung my heart. This was not my choice. We wanted this life so desperately.  Abortion did not at all accurately describe what was happening in our lives. 

There were no instructions about where to get blood work or hours of operation or anything.  This might seem small, but when you are just given terrible news, it helps to have very clear instructions and steps.  I again felt a bit lost, but I was in no mood to ask questions.  As soon as she handed me the appointment card, it felt like I ran out of the office.  I wanted to escape that terrible place.  I held it together in those minutes and steps from office to elevator to car.  And the moment my car door slammed, everything broke loose from me and I wailed.    

Salty Milkshake

I called Lance. I wailed some more. And I drove home in confusion and despair.  The only thing I could think about was how I wanted a milkshake and hot fries.  Grief makes you long for comfort. 

From the moment I got home, there was an overflow of tears from all three of us.  Hudson is at a very sweet stage where he feels so deeply what you are feeling.  When he saw us crying, he was compelled to cry.  And not just cry.  It really seemed like he understood the severity of our pain.  He felt the loss of his baby brother or sister just as much as we did.  It was like he knew something was wrong.  He grabbed our little doppler that we were using just earlier that day in hopes we would hear the heartbeat on our own.  He remembered this and grabbed it and kept bringing it to me saying, “heartbeat, heartbeat, heartbeat!” I sadly had to tell him that we were not certain if there was a heartbeat anymore.  

The milkshake we got that night tasted salty. It was a sweet comfort, but I am pretty sure it was mixed with my tears.  

This was on Lance’s birthday, 2 days after hearing no heartbeat on the ultrasound. In the pain, we were able to have a sacred day alone celebrating the wonderful life of my husband, while still allowing space to sit in the sadness.

Malibu Escape

In the intense sadness, the Lord was gentle with us and allowed our weekend to be lighter than we imagined to be possible. Sunday was Lance’s birthday.  Terrible timing in some ways, but by the grace of God, we were able to celebrate.  We were able to be honest and say we are both so very sad, but we can somehow still enjoy this day.  We escaped to Malibu for a much needed day with just the three of us. We skipped church and responsibilities for a day.  We were sad. We were grieving. But the Lord met us where we were that weekend and somehow gave us lighter hearts.  We had the perfect lunch in an outdoor gastropub in Malibu.  We literally had the patio all to ourselves.  It was quiet and peaceful. We explored beach caves and took in the salty, fresh air.  There was an underlying sadness in it all, but it was still, despite everything, a good day. 

Handle with Care

And then Monday hit and it was like we woke up and realized this was in fact our reality. 

Monday brought a wave of deep sadness.  It all seemed to finally hit me.  It was the start of a week full of bloodwork, doctor’s appointments, a final ultrasound, and surgery.  Not a ton to look forward to.  This day, I felt especially on edge.  As we waited to be called back for bloodwork, we went to my OB’s office to explain to them how I was unable to get blood drawn on Saturday since the Lap Corp was closed.  I needed to move my Tuesday doctor’s appointment for this reason. I was fully caught off guard when I was met with a harsh tone questioning if I tried all the Lap Corp locations.  A harsh tone questioning my decision making was the last thing I needed as I was going through a miscarriage!

This small interaction made me lose it.  I held it together, but as we left the office I again burst into tears.  Do they realize what is going on here? I felt like I needed to be wearing a shirt that stated I needed to be handled with extra care and gentleness. I really wish it was explained to me which locations were open.  Grief puts a hold on logic.  I did not think to call up a bunch of locations. I simply drove to the one my map showed me and the sign said closed, so I went home. 

The rest of the week was weird. There was a lot of grief, but it was also mixed with a tiny amount of hope.  I was still carrying our baby.  There was still no blood.  There were no external symptoms that I was miscarrying.  If I had not gone into that ultrasound, I would still be strutting around happily with my little bump.  

A Missed Miscarriage

To me, this has been one of the most confusing parts.  I had a missed miscarriage, which means that my body never registered that the pregnancy was no longer viable.  My body did not want to let go.  And in some ways this frustrates me, but in a lot of other ways it makes me feel proud.  Just like my heart, my whole body wanted to hold onto this little life as long as possible.  By the time I had my surgery, it was already three weeks that the baby’s heartbeat stopped. Even though in some ways I feel like my body failed me, I also feel like it fought so hard to keep and protect our baby. And for that I feel thankful.  

So in the days between Monday and Thursday (the day the miscarriage was officially confirmed), I spent most of my time either on the couch, at an appointment or in prayer praying for some kind of miracle.  There was a lot of Grey’s Anatomy and Gilmore Girls consumed.  Lots of Googling.  Lots of sitting and waiting and blood work.  

This in-between time was painful.  I knew deep down what the result of the week would be, but in these days there was still a small string of hope.  I was still carrying a baby.  It was likely not alive, but it was still in my tummy and things just felt strange.  

Miscarrying during a pandemic is extra lonely. Lance could not even step foot into the hospital, he literally had to just drop me off. I took this photo and sent it to him before the procedure.

Closure + Covid Tests

In a lot of ways, Thursday brought a sense of closure.  Thursday brought peace in a strange way and I actually felt like I could finally and fully grieve our lost baby.  Thursday also brought frustration as I again was stuck in a doctor’s office waiting over an hour after the final ultrasound again showed me our sweet tiny babe with no heartbeat. 

Then I had to deal with an uninterested and uninformed lady who was in charge of scheduling my surgery.  I had to get a rapid result Covid test in order to have my surgery the next day.  She had no idea where I could get one, so as she sat on the phone distracted, I had to research on my own the best place to get Covid test results the same day.  Again, it might sound small, but this was just another stressor that added to my grief.  

After an exhausting day of running around doing yet another round of bloodwork and driving to get the Covid test, I finally returned to my spot on the couch.  And this is the place I have spent most of my time since surgery on Friday.  I don’t really care to go into the details, but the whole procedure went smoothly.  The nurses were kind. And Taylor Swift thoughtfully released a new album the day before, so Folklore kept me company as I waited alone on the hospital bed.  For what it was, the Lord absolutely used these small details to bring me comfort and peace as I was literally losing my baby from within me.  

The Sunday after my D&C procedure, we again escaped to Malibu. In a lot of ways, Malibu was our place of healing.

Days Following D&C Surgery

In the days following the procedure, I have found myself not crying much.  This seemed strange at first, but grief operates in a weird way.  I have good days and bad days.  Days where my heart stings all day long and days where I feel light and hopeful.  In the good and the bad, Lance and I have felt so deeply cared for. From the flowers delivered to our door to the gracious friends and family bringing over a meal to the text check-ins and phone calls, we feel the love.  We feel covered in prayers and we feel well taken care of.  

 I am not exactly sure what the next days or even weeks will look like.  I am taking things one day at a time.  Actually one moment at a time.  I have minimized my days and really only focusing on the things that matter.  I mostly stay at home.  I occasionally do a few normal things, like dishes and laundry.  I return to the couch every time I begin to feel overwhelmed and tired.  I am taking things slow.  I am running.  I am praying.  I am asking for help. I have never walked through something like this before and I don’t really know how to do it well.  All I do know is that I need grace and a lot of it.  I need Jesus more now that I ever thought I did before.  

This man has been our rock. He has kept things going as I have had to take a major step back from the daily things I normally do. Extra thankful to walk through this together.

Our Why

I share this story because I hope it can give you a deeper perspective on the word miscarriage.  I hope it can better humanize this very real (and sadly, very common) experience.  I hope it can make you feel a little less alone if you too have experienced this type of loss or are currently going through it today.  I hope it can help you better understand the experience if you have a friend or family member going through it.  Ultimately, I hope our story points you to a loving Father. One who doesn’t always prevent his children from enduring pain and loss, but One that walks right alongside us through it all.

Also, I share this story because I am terrible at faking things. I am terrible at pretending everything is okay when I just lost our baby. I can’t simply move on. I need to share. I need to put words to how I am feeling. And mostly, I need to honor our baby. We lost our baby so early that I don’t even have a healthy ultrasound photo. I do not have any official pregnancy announcement photo. All I have are these words and a heart longing to one day meet our baby in heaven.

Week of Play: The Color Purple

This week was all about the color purple!  It was fun to get back into our color unit after taking a couple weeks off from color-themed activities.  

Purple has always been my very favorite color, but for some reason, I found it to be a bit challenging to think of good purple crafts and activities that Hudson would enjoy.  

We kept things pretty simple this week, but it still was a fun week exploring this beautiful color.

Week 6: The Color Purple

This is what our week of purple looked like:

Purple Book of the Week:

The World Needs More Purple People by Kristen Bell and Benjamin Hart

This is the perfect book for purple week and also the perfect book for our world right now.  

This book is fun, colorful, and bright! And it is also packed with content that speaks really well to young children about what it looks like to be a kind advocate in our current world.  The book explains how “purple people” ask great questions, laugh a lot, use their voice, work hard, and are true to themselves.  

I love this book for not only teaching about the color purple, but also for teaching about being curious, kind, inclusive, and standing up for what is right.  This is a beautiful book and I am thankful we have it on our bookshelf (thanks mom!) 

Monday: Purple Sensory Bin 

This week’s bin consisted of: purple pom poms, popsicle sticks, big lego blocks, wooden letters, an elephant, plastic shapes, foam shapes, pipe cleaners, and feathers! 

Like most weeks, we spent most of our time building tall towers with the items in the bin! 

I have noticed that creating these color sensory bins have been a great way to have his eyes concentrated on a specific color.  While he quite honestly does not spent a ton of time playing with the bin, it sits out in our playroom all week and I can’t help but believe that it’s mere presence is helping his mind form ideas around each respective color.

Tuesday: Mix Red + Blue Paint in a Bag

This activity is perfect if you are looking for a quick, no-mess paint experience with your baby or toddler.  

All you need is:

  • Red paint
  • Blue paint
  • Paper
  • Ziplock bag 

I simply put a piece of paper and wrote “purple” on it.  I let Hudson squeeze some red and blue paint into the ziplock bag.  He enjoyed incorporating the colors into the bag! While his interest in it did not last long, he was still amazed to see how the red and blue mixed together to create purple!  

Wednesday: Toilet Paper Octopus Craft + Ocean Wave Sensory Play

We love using toilet paper rolls for crafts!  This purple octopus turned out so cute and it was super simple to construct.

All you need is:

  • Toilet paper roll craft
  • Purple paint 
  • Purple construction paper cut into a small circle 
  • 2 big googley eyes 
  • Scissors 

First, paint the toilet paper roll purple.  I let H do this and helped fill in the spaces when he was done.  Add eyes and smile to to construction paper circle and attach to the top of roll.  Let dry.  Once fully dry, make 8 cuts of equal distance to right below the octopus head. This will create the 8 tentacles. To make more octopus-like, I curled tentacles upward. 

To keep the play going, I used the octopus craft as inspiration for another sensory bin.

All you need is: 

  • Blue tissue paper (a few sheets) 
  • Bin 
  • Octopus craft

This bin turned out to be a big hit for Hudson! I simply took the tissue paper and twisted and curled it to make it look wave-like.  I threw the “waves” and the octopus in a bin and let Hudson play freely. It was a bit different than I expected, but Hudson was occupied for over 15-minutes and really enjoyed playing with the tissue paper. 

Thursday: Purple Lavender Rice + Epsom Salt Sensory Play 

There is nothing quite like the smell of lavender.  Adults love it and kids do too!  This sensory bin is the perfect set-up right before naptime or bedtime.  Hudson really enjoyed it and definiely seemed more relaxed afterwards. 

All you need is:

  • Rice 
  • Water
  • Purple Dye (or red and blue dye) 
  • Lavender essential oil
  • Ziplock bags
  • Epsom Salt (ours was already lavender-scented) 
  • Bin
  • Purple flowers
  • Spoons, cups, funnel, bowl 

Most colored rice recipes call for vinegar, but I found that adding just water worked! Add rice, water, dye, and essential oil to ziplock bag.  Fully incorporate colors into rice and set out to dry. I found that it seemed to be dry pretty quickly and after a few minutes, I poured purple rice into the bin.

For epsom salt, I did the same process, except NO water. Just add salt and dye to ziplock bag and incorporate the color fully. Let dry and then also pour into bin. You can have the rice and salt separated so your little one can mix together. I pre-mixed it because our salt looked more blue-like than purple.

I then added purple flowers, a funnel, a bowl, and a wooden spoon and Hudson immediately began to play. Sensory bins are not always a hit for H, but this particular one was very successful! He played with it multiple times throughout the week.

Friday: Grape Pom Pom Counting Activity 

This is the perfect counting activity to pair with learning about the color purple!  

To be sent the printables I created for this activity, subscribe below and I will email the PDF version! 

Send Me The FREE Worksheets! 

All you need is: 

  • Printable worksheets
  • Purple pom poms
  • Grapes for snacking (optional, but always a good idea!)

We worked with one number at a time and I had Hudson count out the correct number of pom poms.  I intentionally made the circles on the worksheets extra large to make it extra clear for our little learners! 

Hudson is not quite at the stage where he sits down and is super focused in a counting activity like this. And that is totally okay! I still believe me sitting down to intentionally model what it looks like to count out the pom poms and practice numbers 1-5 is important for him. He will eventually get to the point where he will sit down with me and be more focused.

Saturday: Purple Collage 

Like the end of every color week, we end with a collage activity. 

For this collage, we used the following purple materials: paint, construction paper cut up into shapes, pipe-cleaner, popsicle sticks, feathers, and  pom poms. 

After a bit of running around in the sprinklers, Hudson was all about sitting down and working on the collage outside!

This was the first week, that Hudson was actually interested in really sitting down and gluing items on paper! This was exciting to me because it shows the value in staying consistent with activities, even when at first your child might not seem as interested. We made this collage a bit more special by adding purple paint + glitter. Instead of taking out and dirtying a paint brush, I picked a purple flower from our yard and had H use it as a paintbrush! This is a fun way to mix up the painting experience.

Bonus Activity Idea

H really enjoys going on “nature hunts.” This week, we went on a purple flower hunt!  He immediately grabbed his binoculars and basket and was eager to find some purple flowers in our front yard.  This is a great activity to get outside and one that requires no set-up.  Hudson is instantly happy and I was pleasantly surprised at how well he was able to identify the different colors we saw in nature! 

Simple Father’s Day Bow Tie Card

Father’s Day is this weekend! To celebrate Father’s Day this year, I wanted to share a simple and fun card idea Hudson and I did together this week! It involves colored pasta, which we played with before putting the card together as a way to review our colors.

How to Dye Pasta

This was our first time dyeing pasta and it is super simple. It is a fun morning activity to have your little one help with.

All you need is:

  • Bow tie Pasta (we just used a total of 16)
  • Rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover or vinegar (ideally vinegar, but nail polish remover was the only thing I had on hand)
  • Food coloring
  • ziplock bags (one for each color)
  • one mason jar

To dye pasta, simply put the amount of pasta you wish to dye that color in ziplock bag. Place bag in mason jar (see picture above). Then, put one tablespoon of liquid (we used nail polish remover) and as many drops of food coloring. The more drops of food coloring, the more vibrant the color on the pasta. Seal bag and shake and incorporate the color throughout the pasta. Repeat this for each color.

Set pasta to dry on a piece or parchment paper or wax paper. Let dry for 3-4 hours.

Bowtie Father’s Day Card

For the card, all you need is:

  • White card stock
  • Construction paper to cut out “big” shirt for dad and “small” shirt for child.
  • Glue
  • Marker
  • Photo cut out of head of dad and child
  • Glitter (optional, but fun for decorating)

As Hudson was taking his nap, I setup everything for the card. I glued the shirts, glued the photos, and wrote a Father’s Day message.

When Hudson was up, he got some time to play with the colored pasta and we worked on sorting the pasta based on color. This was a fun way for us to review colors!

Once he was over the pasta, I let him choose the bowtie he wanted to give to dad and himself. He chose red and so then he found the matching red bowtie and placed it on his shirt. I helped him glue the pasta on the shirt. Then, he decorated the shirts with glue and glitter.

This was super simple, but the perfect card! I love how it incorporates a matching photo of my husband and son (they are both wearing Yankee baseball caps!). The red bow tie pasta is also a really fun and unique touch.

Hope everyone has an amazing day celebrating all the amazing dads out there!

And to Lance, thank you for truly being the best dad to Hudson. You love our son so well and I am so thankful!

Happy Father’s Day!

Hudson’s 2nd Birthday Party: Trash Truck Theme

For Hudson’s 2nd birthday party, we celebrated just with family at our home.  Before the pandemic, I had grand plans of throwing him a party at an indoor soccer facility and inviting lots of people and planning lots of things.  Of course all of those plans in my head did not happen, but the result was actually much more enjoyable for us all. 

We had a small gathering with family spread out throughout the day.  I bought most of the decorations at the Dollar Tree and barely did anything homemade.  This was quite the contrast from his first birthday party, which was baseball-themed and I spent way too much energy, stress and time on little details that ultimately did not matter much.

This year was different.  2020 will forever be the year that changed everything.  While some of the changes have been hard to swallow, there have been some changes during these times of quarantine that have actually been very good for my own soul. The elimination of elaborate party planning has definitely been one of those good things for me personally. 

Hudson’s 2nd birthday celebration was not elaborate or costly or extravagant.  It was simple.  It was small.  And it was good.  I enjoyed myself so much more with this type of celebration versus his first birthday party where I was so concerned that everything had to be perfect.  I am learning that the small, casual gatherings, filled with love are actually the types of parties that our children prefer!  

With that said, I wanted to share some of the fun details from Hudson’s trash truck-themed party!  Even though I kept decorations to a minimum, I had a lot of fun with this trash truck theme! 

The Invitation 

There are a ton of cute trash truck invitations out there, but since we were not throwing a big party, I did not want to use any budget on invitations.  So instead, I quickly designed a PDF invite that I texted to family members.  I am by no means a professional designer and it is not perfect, but I thought it was a fun (and free) way to invite family. It is also something for me to keep and remember from his 2nd birthday.  

I used Canva to design this.  Canva has a free option and it is a really great tool for design, especially for non-designers.  If you would like me to send you this trash truck invite PDF, enter your email below, and I will send you an editable PDF version so you can quickly make your own changes! 

Send Me Editable Trash Truck Invite for FREE!

The Birthday Shirt 

My mother-in-law found this shirt for Hudson from Etsy and it came right in time!  It was perfect and a fun way thing for him to wear all weekend long as we celebrated trash truck-style.

The Decorations

This year, I decided to not do a million DIY decoration projects and I was so much happier.  I found this amazing trash truck birthday banner on Amazon and it was perfect.  Since most of the party was held outside we hung it outside on our house wall.  It was the perfect addition for the theme and it required no extra work on my part- it was even pre-strung!  

For balloons, I just did a small order of a few green balloons and a big gold “2” foil balloon!  Party City delivered it directly to our house, which made the whole balloon process even simpler and less stressful.  I also got a smaller 2 foil balloon to put on our mantel.  I had leftover banners from last year’s birthday so made a simple, “Hudson is 2” setup.  This was a nice spot to get photos of H and for people to put presents.  

All the other decorations, were from Dollar Tree.  I got strung green pom-poms, which made a nice touch by where all the food was.  All paper good (plates, napkins, straws) were also from the Dollar Tree.

To top it off, I put out a couple of Hudson’s toy trash trucks, put straws and utensils in little blue bins (these were perfect and dropped off by our local trash truck company), and blew up a few extra balloons for the floors.  It was all super simple, but it still felt festive and very on theme!

The Cake 

I had grand plans of making a homemade chocolate cake with a chocolate buttercream frosting.  As I was making this cake the day before his party, the whole cake literally began to crumble as I was frosting it.  Hours of work in the kitchen literally crumbled before my eyes.  After shedding a few tears of frustration and stuffing my face with chocolate cake, I realized a store bought chocolate cake would be just fine.  

Even though the cake was store bought, I made it still feel homemade by:

  1. Putting it on a pretty cake platter
  2. Topping it off with a toy trash truck and lots of candy, which was supposed to look like “trash” coming from the truck!  

Even with the cake fiasco, this alternative, turned out really cute and was a fun centerpiece to have out on our living room table! 

The Piñata 

This was all my mother.  She spent weeks making this handmade trash truck piñata for H!  It looks just like the trash trucks in our neighborhood!  It was such a sweet and unique decoration for his party.  It of course was a big hit for H, as he got to pull the string from the bottom, and let out all the balls and candy!

The Gifts

Every holiday and birthday, I always make sure one of the gifts is a book.  This year, we got him The Wheels on the Garbage Truck by Jeffrey Burton. I was not sure if this would be a hit, but Hudson loves it.  It goes to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus” and it points out all the different parts of a trash truck!  This is a new favorite.

The night before his birthday, we let him open one present.  It was trash truck pajamas for him to wear that night!  He of course does not get super excited over clothing, but they looked so cute on him. They were perfect for the next morning when all the trash truck drivers in our neighborhood stopped by to wish him a happy birthday! He wore the pajama bottoms with his birthday top! 

Hudson’s 2nd birthday was so special and one I will always remember.  The thing that put this birthday over the top was the kindness demonstrated by our trash truck drivers.  On the morning of his birthday, which happened to fall on trash truck day, all three drivers stopped by to wish H a happy birthday.  They did not merely honk and drive away.  They stopped and chatted and let Hudson hop up on the truck and pull the horn!  They went above and beyond to make this trash truck-loving birthday boy extra happy!  

This year as I planned Hudson’s simple trash truck party, I was reminded of a few things.

  1. Store bought cake is not the end of the world
  2. A simple call (in my case, calling the department of sanitation for our city) can be the thing that really makes the birthday extra special
  3. Big parties are overrated

Happy partying!