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!

Week of Play: The Color Blue

This week we learned all about the color BLUE!  It was a week full of the ocean, Cookie Monster, and denim.  Blue is just one of those colors that bring a sense of peace.  For me, blue always brings me to the ocean, the sky, and the lovely outdoors.  While H is still a bit stuck on the color green, he slowly warmed up this new color as I introduced some fun, hands-on blue activities!  

Week 5: The Color Blue

This is what our week of blue looked like: 

Blue Books of the Week

The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle 

This is an Eric Carle book that I was not familiar with at first, but I love this story for teaching not only about the color blue, but also about creativity.  The story is about an artist who paints animals different colors.  All the colors he paints the animals are not typically how that animal is portrayed. 

The horses are blue and the lions are green.  This is an excellent story to teach little ones about the importance of creativity and thinking outside of the box.  It is also the perfect book to pair with a painting activity: “Paint the Horse Blue” (activity description can be found below). Read-aloud can be found here.

Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle 

This is a classic and another perfect book for blue week.  There are lots of books in this series, but I am linking to the original one.  This story is perfect for teaching animal sounds!  Hudson especially loves how little blue truck goes “beep!” 

Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton 

Boynton is one of my favorite children’s authors.  Her stories are perfect for baby and toddlers. They typically are not super wordy and have super fun and engaging illustrations.  Even though it is perfect for little ones, I always find her books to be deeply entertaining.  This particular book is excellent not just for the color blue, but also for teaching all colors and clothes!  Throughout the simple story, it follows a confused turkey that has trouble figuring out how to properly put clothes on.  This is a good one.

Thomas & Friends

If you have a train-obsessed toddler, like me, reading some Thomas the Train books is a must during blue week.  I am linking to an electronic reader book set we have that is intended for slightly older children; however, we don’t use the electronic part.  I just read some of the different stories to Hudson, and he really enjoys them!  This set will eventually be helpful when he is beginning to learn to read on his own.  

Blue Sensory Bin

There were a lot of fun things in our blue bin this week that made playing even more fun.

This week’s bin consisted of: blue trash bins, big legos, foam shapes, blocks, train tracks, Thomas trains (lots of them), letters, balls, envelopes, wooden blocks, daddy shark puzzle piece, popsicle sticks, pom poms, and a few other random things.

We had so many Thomas trains that we played a lot with trains in the morning time.  We built tracks using only the blue pieces and had the Thomas trains race down! 

Monday: Paint Cookie Monster Blue + Cookie Counting Activity

To start off blue week, we did a couple activities around our favorite blue, cookie-loving monster…Cookie Monster!

For this paint setup, all you need is:

  • Coloring sheet of Cookie Monster (we used this one)
  • Blue paint
  • Paint brush
  • An easel setup (optional) 

Once H painted Cookie Monster as much as he wanted, I helped him fill in the white spaces.  Once it dried, I cut it out so he could hold and play with it. 

In the afternoon, we continued with the Cookie Monster theme and did a really simple counting activity.  

For this cookie counting activity, all you need is: 

  • Blue cupcake liner
  • 2 big googley eyes 
  • Black construction paper cut out like a smile 
  • White card stock
  • 4 small cookies (I use the ones from the tub at Trader Joe’s) 
  • Blue marker 

To construct this simple Cookie Monster craft, glue a blue cupcake liner on left side of card stock.  Glue eyes and mouth on top.  With the marker, write out numbers 1-4 (or whatever amount you would like to work on with your little one). 

Before I brought out the cookies, I explained to H that we were going to spend a couple minutes practicing counting.  I clearly told him he had to first practice with me and then he could eat the cookies.  This definitely grabbed his attention and made him much more invested and excited to get the counting done, so he could gobble up the cookies. 

At this age, it is important to keep learning super fun and light.  We ran through the numbers 1-4 a few times as we counted the 4 cookies on the paper.  I then let him eat them! Fun and simple and a great way to introduce counting.  

Tuesday: Ocean in A Bottle 

The ocean is definitely one of our favorite blue things.  After a morning visit to the beach, I set up a ocean in a bottle activity for H in the afternoon.  It is really simple and results in a fun sensory play for little ones to shake and play with after.

All you need is:

  • Empty water bottle
  • Water dyed blue (I used a blue bath tab
  • Sand and shells we had lying around (optional)
  • Blue pom-poms (we pretended these were fish) 
  • Glitter (optional) 
  • Funnel
  • Tape for sealing 

This is a good activity to have setup before your little one is up!  It is also a great activity to practice pouring skills.  With a little help, H used the funnel to pour the blue water into the water bottle.  He then threw in the different items he wanted in his bottle.  Once he was finished, I put the cap back on and sealed it with tape.  Then, your little one can shake and play with the bottle! It turned out really pretty and it was fun to watch the sand flow throughout the blue water.  

Wednesday: Blue Sand Art 

With some of the extra sand I had lying around, I decided to dye it blue.  This made for a really fun sand art activity.  

For this activity, all you need is: 

  • Sand 
  • Blue Dye 
  • White card stock 
  • Glue 
  • Spoon

To make the sand blue, simply place sand in sealed zip lock bag, add a few drops of blue dye, and incorporate dye into the sand.  Keep adding dye until the sand is the color blue you prefer.  

H really enjoyed playing with the blue sand.  I let him play with it a bit and then, using the glue I made a wave design on the paper.  H really enjoyed using the spoon to scoop the sand onto the paper.  This is a great activity to practice transferring skills.  

The end result of our blue sand waves turned out really fun!  

Thursday: Paint The Horse Blue Activity (based off of an Eric Carle book) 

For this activity, we used the Eric Carle book I mentioned in the book section, The Artist Who Painted A Horse Blue.

This was an Eric Carle book I was unfamiliar with, but we both really enjoyed it.  The blue horse is the familiar horse from the beloved Brown Bear, Brown Bear.  

For this blue horse activity, all you need is: 

  • The book (we were not able to get a copy in time, so we listened to the read-aloud version on Youtube). 
  • Printer paper
  • A copy of the book or Brown Bear, Brown Bear (use the book to trace the horse)
  • Blue paint
  • Paint brush 

Friday: Blue Chia Sensory Play with Boats 

Chia seeds make for really fun sensory play!  The texture is slick and slimy, without all of the mess and stickiness of regular slime.  

For this sensory bin, all you need is:

  • 1 cup chia seeds
  • 4 cups water + a little extra to top it off
  • 12 drops of blue food coloring
  • Toy boats
  • Bowl of water

Simply, combine water, chia seeds, and food coloring in a bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours (ideally overnight). Take out of the refrigerator and fill the mixture into a tray for your little one to play with.  Place a bowl of water and the boats out for little ones to use for play.  I added a bit of extra water to make the chia mixture more ocean-like. 

H really enjoyed moving the boats through the chia!  He especially enjoyed the bowl of water and spent most of his time sitting in it!  The chia can stick on hands, so the bowl of water was helpful for this.  

This can get messy, so be be careful with clothes! This is a good activity to do in diapers or bathing suites.  

Saturday: Blue Collage Activity 

To finish off our color week, we always make a collage of that particular color.  

For this collage we used the following blue materials: letter and number stickers, popsicle sticks, foam shapes, envelope, construction paper cut into squares, pom-poms

Earlier in the week, H painted blue on blue construction paper. To reuse this piece of art, I cut it into squares and put it out as a collage material option.  This is a great way to use excess art you do not have a place for!  

I was making a sign for H’s birthday and had blue letter and number stickers out.  H got a hold of these and decorated most of his collage with these stickers.  So, this collage has its own unique look!

Blue week was a lot of fun. This a great color to explore during summer…it is perfect for water play and the ocean! Next week, we will be reviewing colors and doing some birthday-themed activities! My baby turns 2 this week!

Happy Playing! 

Week of Play: The Color Green

This week was all about the color GREEN!  It was a week full of frogs, slime, dinosaurs, and leaf hunts! Green is already becoming H’s favorite color. Most of the week he was shouting, “Green! Green! Green!”  It makes sense why he loves this color so much.  Most of his favorite things revolve around this color: gardening, trash trucks, and dinosaurs just to name a few! 

Week 4: The Color Green 

This is what our week of green looked like: 

Green Books of the Week 

Froggy Learns to Swim by Jonathan London

This book is part of a series of many other books about Froggy.  We did a lot of crafts around frogs, so this was a great book to pair with those crafts.  This particular Froggy book is also perfect if you have a little one learning how to swim!  The book shows how Froggy overcomes his fear and learns how to swim with the help from his mom. The Froggy books tend to be a bit wordier, but my almost 2-year old really enjoyed the entire story.  It can easily be shortened by just focusing on the illustrations.

Green Wilma by Tedd Arnold 

This was another childhood favorite of mine and the perfect book for green week!  This is another book about a frog, so it works well paired with frog activities.  The illustrations are fun and the storyline is compelling with a plot twist towards the end.  After just one read, H was hooked and kept saying “Wilma!” 

Arnold also has a book called Huggly’s Pizza, which H thoroughly enjoyed as well.  Huggly is a green monster that lives in a slime pit.  This is another book that works well with green week.  It is actually quite a long story, but H loved it and kept asking for it again and again.

Other Book Ideas:

  • Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (“in the great green room”) 

Green Sensory Bin

For this week’s color bin, we had LOTS of things that were green.  

This week’s bin consisted of: green train tracks, big lego blocks, popsicle sticks, feathers, pipe cleaners, shapes, grandpa shark puzzle piece, plate, toy peas, palm tree Duplo Lego pieces, foam blocks, balls, Percey trains, and a few other random green things.

Since we had SO many green legos, we spent some time early in our week building tall green towers!

Monday: Plant Something Green 

With this past Monday being a holiday, Memorial Day, we did not do many planned activities, but we did plant some basil!  This past week was National Children’s Gardening week, so it was a perfect way to celebrate the week.  H helped me shovel dirt in the pot, which he of course loved.  I gave him a straw to poke holes in the dirt and showed him how to carefully place the seeds in. 

We talked about how the tiny seeds are going to grow into green basil for us to eat.  I then let him use his watering can to water the freshly planted seeds.  Be sure to only fill up the watering can with however much water you would like the plant to have.  H over watered it a tad! 

Tuesday: Jumping Frog Origami Craft 

As I spent a lot of time with my grandma who was Japanese, I grew up really enjoying origami.  This jumping frog origami from Red Ted Art is really simple to fold and great for young kids.  While the folds are still too hard for H, he enjoyed watching me make the folds and explaining to him what I was doing.  To get him more involved with the process, I let him color with a green marker on the frog’s back.  I also let him help me glue the googley eyes on.  

Hudson loved playing with the final product!  He loved watching it jump around.  Even hours after we made these jumping frogs, he went back to play with them some more.  That is always a sign of a good craft!

This activity could easily be extended into a more active activity.  We didn’t have time for this, but after making these jumping frogs, you could play a “Jumping Lily Pad” game.  You could either cut out lily pads with green construction paper or draw them on the sidewalk with green chalk.  This could be a great way to teach numbers too.  You could number each lily pad and call out a number for them to jump on to! 

Wednesday: Green Slime + Dinosaurs  

We made green slime THREE TIMES this week, and if I am honest, even the final batch did not turn out great.  Next slime recipe I think I am going to try with Borax.  This is the recipe I used and even after pouring in way more water and contact solution, it was way too sticky.  So if anyone has the perfect slime recipe, let me know!  I also was hoping to make it glittery by adding green sparkles.  The sparkles would probably have showed up better with clear Elmer’s glue.  

It was still a fun process to make with H!  We threw in some of his miniature dinosaurs into the slime, which he seemed to really like.  It was fun for him to pull out the dinosaurs and see the elasticity of the slime.  Since our slime was SO sticky, I threw it all in a bag, which made for good mess-free sensory play.

Thursday Morning: Build-A-Dino Play-dough Tray 

This play-dough tray was a hit!  It was a super simple set-up with minimal materials.  For the homemade playdough, I used Must Have Mom’s green jello play-dough recipe.  It was a great recipe, but definitely needed a fair amount of flour to be added towards the end because it was still pretty sticky.  Using Jello or Kool-Aid mixes in playdough recipes is a great way to add color + smell! 

For the tray, I used a cracker and cheese platter.  I put out some googley eyes, cut up pipe cleaners, some feathers, a roller, and a few other playdough tools.  So simple and something that H keeps coming back to!  

Thursday Afternoon: Toilet Paper Roll Frog Craft

Last week’s bee toilet paper roll craft was such a hit that we did another one this week!  I had more time, so I was able to set-up this craft before he woke up and that made a big difference.  Right when he woke up, he was able to start creating!  It made it easier for the both of us.  

Materials:

  • Toilet paper roll
  • Green paint
  • Paint brush
  • 2 big googley eyes
  • Green construction paper cut into a circle (frog’s head) and two legs
  • Cut piece of red pipe cleaner (curl with finger to make it look like aa tongue) 
  • Green glitter glue (optional, but a fun way for little one to decorate the frog)

Invite your little one to paint toilet paper roll green.  H was not super interested in this part, so he mostly watched it be put together.  Towards the end, he loved squeezing green glitter glue all over the toilet paper roll.  This addition made the final product look really fun and sparkley.  

This is the perfect craft to chase your little one around with.  You can make frog noises, “ribbit, ribbit!” and practice hopping like a frog together.  We even named our frog Wilma and then read the book I mentioned above, Green Wilma. 

Friday:  Herb Watercolor Painting + Leaf Tracing 

Herb watercolor painting was a simple activity that turned out really beautiful and even smelled like rosemary!  

Materials: 

  • Rosemary or other herbs 
  • White paper
  • Watercolors (we mostly just used the different shades of green) 
  • Cup of water 

Simply, dip rosemary into water and then watercolor, and stamp it all over the paper.  The rosemary made a really interesting pattern that a typical paintbrush cannot. 

For the leaf tracing, we first went on a leaf hunt right outside our front door.  I gave H a set of binoculars and a basket to collect the leaves.  Since he is so into gardening, he really enjoyed finding and pulling leaves off  bushes and trees in our front yard. 

Materials: 

  • Leaves
  • White Paper
  • Green crayons
  • Green glitter glue (optional) 

For the leaf tracing, simply place the leaves under the white paper and color with crayon on the paper.  The shape and lines of the leaf will appear.  It looked really pretty to use different shades of green.  

Like most crafts, H’s favorite part was squeezing glitter glue everywhere.  If you have a child that like mine that is not super into crafts, finding the one element they do enjoy is a great way to get them more involved.  For H that is squeezing glue everywhere! 

Saturday: Green Collage Activity 

At the end of each color week we make a collage with items of that particular color.  Once we finish this color unit, I will bind each collage into a book for H to flip through.  

For this collage we used the following green materials: feathers, popsicle sticks, crayons, pipe cleaners, foam shapes.  

Like I say every week, at this stage, the collage is very much a team effort.  H needs help with gluing, but he likes to point where he would like the item to be placed.  

Green week was a lot of fun! Now, on to the color blue! I will have a full week of blue-inspired activities next week!