2020 Reflection

In ways, it feels like I was just sitting down a year ago typing up my 2019 reflection. I just read it back and was deeply encouraged by it. My words a year ago reminded me of my own growth and ultimately showed me the faithfulness of the Lord. Even if you don’t click the link and go back to read that reflection, I would love for you to read these words from that post:

The thing with 2019 was that there was no big ah-ha moment. There was no big day of delivering a baby or getting married or starting a new job. However, 2019 held a lot of small choices, small decisions, ultimately of saying yes. I will join that. I will do that. I will help out with that. There were a lot of miles done in secret. Lots of early mornings of pouring out my heart onto a blog that only a few very kind people read. Lots of talking with God and quite a lot of waiting. These types of years can be hard but they also can be wonderful. It is a time of preparing and pruning and getting ready for what is to come.

Preparing and pruning. This is what stuck out to me. After now living out the year 2020, I see the work the Lord was doing in 2019 to prepare for what was to come. I see His faithfulness.

The thing with 2020 is that it is really easy to write it off as just that really, really bad year where the world shut down and everything was cancelled and people lost their jobs and lives and sanity. This is easy, but instead, I want to dig in. I want to see the Lord’s faithfulness in the hard and the unexpected.

Good Thing of 2020 #1: Blog Growth

To really reflect on 2020 and to look ahead at 2021, I am going to reference some of my posts that I wrote throughout the year. Before even getting into specific posts, I want to write very quickly about this blog. I have been writing on here for over 2 years. Of all things postpartum, this blog of mine has been the thing I have been most consistent at. It has given me a place to make my words a home. A place to be honest and reflect. When I think back to 2020, one thing I am truly proud about is this blog. I have felt the calling to write and create for most of my life and this blog is ultimately an outpouring of staying faithful even when the growth is slow.

I was blown away to see that the amount of visitors to my blog over doubled in 2020, compared to 2019. Amazing! I have found that this past year I have spent significant less time writing on here. It was just one of those years. I wrote 51 posts and just a bit over 67,000 words this year. In 2019, I wrote 71 posts and over 100,000 words. Yet, I had over double the visitors! This is a small little thing, but it really encourages my heart and reminds me that good things come to those that stay faithful in the small ways. I am excited and hopeful for the ways this blog can continue to grow and transform with me.

Good Thing of 2020 #2: Bouncing Back from Boston Marathon Cancellation

When I look back to everything I was writing about, the majority of my posts at the beginning of the year were part of my “Marathon Monday: The Miles to Boston” series. There ended up being only 8 parts to this series and I wrote the final Marathon Monday in the middle of March once the marathon was officially postponed. This was just one of the many things that happened in 2020 that I definitely was not expecting. In the unexpected, it allowed me to still push myself and realize that running for me, goes way beyond racing on a big stage. Like a lot of my running career, the performances I am most proud of are the ones that happened on quiet streets where no one was around. The cancellation of Boston, allowed for me to push myself in two virtual races: the 10k and the half-marathon. If you get a chance, go back and read that half-marathon recap. In a lot of ways, it captures my heart for this entire year and season of my life. It has never been about the stage. It has always been about showing up and remaining faithful to the tugging the Lord has put on my heart:

These past few weeks, I have had to really dig deep.  What do I do when really no one is watching? How hard am I willing to push myself when the cheers are silent?  Will I keep writing when it sometimes feels like only one sweet friend reads my words? Yes. I will keep running, writing, pushing, dreaming; until God says otherwise. 

This is the freeing part.  It was never about the stage.  It was never about Boston. It was about saying yes to the dreams and visions God has put on my heart.  Whether we are in a pandemic or not, I will continue to say yes to God even if that means running for 13.1 miles on empty streets. 

Both those virtual races and the necklace I won from the half-marathon race really meant a lot to me. Ask my husband. I did not take off that “run to overcome” necklace for months!

Good Thing of 2020 #3: Starting my Teachers Pay Teachers Store

I feel like this year was the first year I felt at home in my purpose as a stay-at-home mom. The transition from being a high school English teacher to staying fully at home with my son was hard for me. I ended 2018, feeling like I really lacked purpose in my life. It was a hard season for me personally. I reflect more on those feelings here if you are interested.

2020 brought to me a sense of both clarity and contentment. The Lord gave me a better vision for how He wants me to steward my time as I am in this season of raising little H at home. He showed me how I can use my love for teaching and pour that into intentional activities for Hudson. He also revealed to me that I can sell my curriculum and share the resources I make with others to help them teach their own toddlers at home! A win-win.

Quarantine really pushed me to begin thinking outside of the box on ways I can intentionally spend time with H at home. This led to teaching him a different color every week, which eventually led me to start a tot school ABC curriculum. I started selling curriculum on my Teaching Toddler Mama store and I have found a great sense of joy and purpose in this new project. It was my first time outside of my teaching career that I actually made some money. Not to mention, the first time I ever made money for something I created with my own creativity. It was empowering and it was just another way the Lord encouraged my heart in a challenging year. He is always so kind + tender.

Good Thing of 2020 #4: The Joys of 2 Pregnancies

One thing I have really struggled with this year, is to figure out the best way to grapple with both intense grief + abundant joy. 2020 will always be the year I was pregnant twice. I am not going to go into all the details of our miscarriage story here, but I wrote an entire post sharing about our loss, which you can read here. Of everything I have ever written on my blog, this is the piece I am most proud of. From the very beginning as we were walking through losing our second baby, I could feel the Lord tugging at my heart to openly share. I really did not want to. And I almost did not, but I am really thankful I did. It was one of the most healing things to openly share our story. I was also deeply humbled by the outpouring of texts I received from sharing that story. I even got the chance to connect with other women who were walking through very similar situations and my story helped them in their own grief. It really is amazing the type of work the Lord can do through our pain + suffering.

Less than 2 months later, we found out we were pregnant again. The emotions were quite different this time. I was incredibly humbled + grateful to again see those two pink lines, but the trauma I just walked through was still alive within me and I was paralyzed with fear that the same outcome would happen. I am 20 weeks pregnant today and as I type this I have a visible bump. Words cannot accurately describe the gratitude I feel for this pregnancy and our precious baby boy. Yet, at the same time, this pregnancy has been difficult for me to feel as joyful because part of my heart is still grieving the baby we lost in July. Every ultrasound I cry alone as I drive to my appointment because I am so terrified that I will have the same ultrasound experience of hearing no heartbeat. Miscarriage is a type of trauma. And for me, this trauma + this healthy pregnancy both happened in the same year and it is a lot for my heart to process. I finally feel like I am at the point where I can get excited for our baby boy and rest in the miracle of this healthy pregnancy. I miss our second babe with all my heart, but I also feel so much peace and love for this third pregnancy. Grief + joy. They have both been in my heart a lot this year and I finally feel like I can walk well with both these emotions.

We are due in May and we cannot wait to meet baby T! Hudson is especially excited to be a big brother. He has been talking to my stomach almost every night and it just melt my heart like no other.

In summary, here are the major things the Lord has taught me this year:

  1. He is always faithful, even in the hardest, most painful seasons of our life.
  2. He blesses small acts of obedience.
  3. He is incredibly tender and will make his love known to us when we are walking through hard things.
  4. He has placed me right where He wants me. As much as I have tried to fight it these past couple years, I see with clarity the position and purpose He has put before me.
  5. His plans are always, always better.

2020, you were hard, but you were also very, very important. Thankful for this year and feeling very hopeful for the year ahead! Excited to share with you in the week ahead some of my hopes + goals for 2021 and the word I have chosen for my year!

Happy New Year, friends!

Simple Christmas Toddler Ideas

I have been desiring to write on this little blog of mine more, but recently have been busy working on my toddler curriculum + getting ready for the holidays. I am working on a mental list of things I want to do more of in 2021 and writing here is definitely going to be on that list. I feel like I have so many ideas floating in my head that I would like to share with you all, but since we are just a week from Christmas and I still have a long list of to-dos, I wanted to share a very short post of a few Christmas activities we have really been enjoying. Hudson is now already 30-months (be expecting a 30-month update soon), so Christmas time is proving to be even more fun this year than the previous one. It is hard for me to fully believe this is already his 3rd Christmas. If you are interested in reading what our Christmas was like last year with an 18-month old, please read here.

I think this Christmas for all of us is going to feel a bit different from previous years, but that does not mean it can’t still feel just as magical (especially for our kiddos).

Before I get into the list, if you are looking for some intentional learning activities themed off of Christmas, I just released a Tot School: Christmas Curriculum. I know Christmas is fast approaching, but there is still a whole week to squeeze in some intentional learning time together. You can get this curriculum for just $5! It comes with a full-week calendar with books suggestions, activities, and the early learning standards addressed.

Alongside my Christmas Curriculum, here are a few other things we have enjoyed this season:

1. Checking Out ALL the Christmas Books at the Library

I am not going to put a list together of our favorite Christmas books because I did that last year, you can read it here. However, I would like to add a few that we have really been enjoying from the library. Side-note: I am SO thankful our library is still open for holding/picking up books. It has been one of my favorite parts of quarantine to still be able to pick up new books from the library every week. Hudson is really enjoying all the gingerbread-themed books I checked out, his favorite right now seems to be The Library Gingerbread Man by Dotti Enderle. He also is loving all the Llama Llama Christmas book, especially Llama, Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney.

Ignore the fact he is standing on a table.

2. Decorating a Mini Tree

This year, I got a mini tree from Trader Joe’s and he has been loving decorating it! Before I even set-up all the things for him, he started decorating on his own by throwing pom poms on it. I walked in and he was happily decorating his tree. This was quite the contrast from last Christmas when he broke multiple ornaments. So far, we are at zero broken ornaments! A small win.

3. Christmas-Themed Play-Dough Tray

I love making seasonal play-dough trays. It takes just a few minutes to put together and then it is something I literally leave out in his playroom all month long. It makes it feel like there is always a festive activity for him to work on without all the work of setting up a new activity each day. This year, I just made some green play-dough and added gold sparkles to make it more festive. I love this green jello play-dough recipe, I use it for both Christmas + St. Patrick’s Day. In the tray I put mostly little things I picked up from the Dollar Tree, along with a roller and kid-safe scissors. H is really enjoying practicing his scissor skills. Play-dough is perfect for practicing to use scissors.

4. Naming Friends/Family in Holiday Cards

I noticed this year that H has really enjoyed as I put up the holiday cards. He loves seeing family and friends and will point and name everyone! This is such a fun little activity that takes no setting up and I am amazed with how many people he easily recognizes!

Looking at lights on Balboa Island!

5. Looking at Holiday Lights

Every night we enjoy walking in our neighborhood and looking at the lights. H’s favorite thing this year is what he calls the “blow ups.” Probably not the best name for it, but he is referring to all the holiday inflatable decorations. We also have been enjoying taking hot cocoa on-the-go and driving through neighborhoods with lots of lights. A new favorite place to view lights is at Balboa Island. We walked around and looked at all the beautifully decorated homes/boats. The boat parade was so fun to watch!

6. Dropping Off Cookies to Friends

This year felt like the first year I could really lean into the message that Christmas is more about giving than receiving. This is also the first year that H is gift-obsessed. It is taking so much self-control for him to not tear open the presents under our tree. He is constantly asking about gifts + presents, so I really want to make sure we model to him how giving is much more important. A small and simple way to do this is dropping off cookies to friends. We had a special night where we drove around and knocked on doors and H really loved it.

Polar Express Ride!

7. Making Special Christmas Memories Together

I really want to do a whole blog post on our Arizona trip we went on a couple weeks ago. We stayed in Sedona and drove to Williams to do the Polar Express Ride. It was magical for H. He got to see Santa and tell him about that baseball he really wants (which I am still slightly confused about since he has SO many baseballs). We got to ride on the Polar Express and sip hot chocolate and sing Christmas Caroles. Santa even gave us all jingle bells. Hopefully more on this whole trip in a blog post to come, but in summary, it was a really special Christmas memory I think we all will remember.

There is probably a few more things I could add, but these came to my mind first and I fear nap time is coming to an end! However you spend your holiday this year, my hope is that it can still be a memorable one, even in a year that did not go the way we imagined.

Merry Christmas, friends!

Favorite Thanksgiving Toddler Books

With Thanksgiving literally less than a week away, I wanted to share a few of the Thanksgiving books we are enjoying in our home!

Alongside these books, if you are looking for some intentional Thanksgiving learning activities to do with your little one, I have a Thanksgiving Curriculum, specifically designed for 2-3 year-olds that you can purchase for just $5! It is a really fun week of learning! Some of my favorite activities include the Feed the Turkey Game (works on alphabet recognition) + the Thanksgiving Plate Activity (works on naming pictures).

Wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tot School: The Letter G

Last week, we wrapped up the letter G! Yet again, we did not get a chance to get to ALL the wonderful resources, but I still wanted to do a quick summary of the learning activities and books we did engage with!

You can purchase this full week of Letter G 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 7: The Letter G

Letter G Books

Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae

How Groundhogs Garden Grew by Lynne Cherry

We are the Gardeners by Joanna Gaines

Buster the Little Garbage Truck by Marcia Berneger

The Little Ghost who Lost her Boo by Elaine Bickell

Ghosts in the House by Kazuna Kohara

Grumpy Goat by Brett Helquist

Letter G Curriculum

You can purchase a full week of letter G 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! 

Gardening Activities

This boy loves gardening! Most of our week was spent focused on garden-themed activities. His favorite thing about gardening is all the different tools. For that reason, he loved Joanna Gaines’ book, We are the Gardeners. He really enjoyed pointing out all the different gardening tools. Along with some great gardening books, H really enjoyed playing with the garden sensory bin. For this bin, I used pinto beans and lentils. I put a planting pot, shovels, and used the garden name sensory bin printables in my curriculum. This is an easy and hands-on way to help work on name recognition with your little one. This sensory bin proved to be the hit of the week. He plays with it almost every day.

For letter G decorating, I let H paint with gardening gloves. I bought these gloves at the Dollar Tree, so I was fine getting some paint on them! It turns out H was more interested in painting with the paintbrush. It was worth a shot.

Ghost Activities

With Halloween right around the corner, we had to do some ghost-themed activities for the letter G. H is very into ghosties right now, so this friendly/spooky ghost decorating was a hit. We also did some ghost in the house counting, which H enjoyed.

Garbage Truck Activities

Not only does this boy love gardening, he is even more obsessed with garbage trucks. Naturally, we had to do some garbage truck activities. H has been getting a bit bored with the classic letter do-a-dots, so I have been working on mixing these activities up. He really enjoyed this letter G do-a-dot that used garbage bags instead of dots. As he was working on this activity, he told me he wanted to give it to our garbage truck drivers, Manny, Chad, and Brian! There is also a fun garbage truck and bin shape matching game included in this curriculum!

Giraffe Activities

We just did this giraffe spot counting activity this morning and H loved it. I have been trying to create counting activities that are more interactive beyond simply counting and tracing the number. H is a very hands-on kid. As I am modeling how to count something, he needs something to do with his hands. That is why this activity was perfect for the way H learns. He was very happy coloring in the spots, while we worked on our counting! This activity is the perfect pairing to the book, Giraffes Can’t Dance!

You can purchase this week of curriculum for just $5 at my TpT store! Like last week, this week of curriculum is full of great activities and book suggestions! We just got the chance to do a few of the activities. If you are working on teaching the alphabet to your toddler, I really hope you purchase and love this resource!

Tot School: The Letter F

We have gotten a bit behind in our letters of the week, but we finally wrapped up the Letter F Week, so I wanted to give a brief summary that will hopefully inspire you as you work on the letter F with your toddler!

You can purchase this full week of Letter F 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 6: The Letter F

Letter F Books

Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni

Firefighter Frank by Monica Wellington

The Little Fire Truck by Margery Cuyler

Mouse’s First Fall by Lauren Thompson

On the Farm by David Elliot

My Mom is a Firefighter by Lois Grambling

Letter F Curriculum

You can purchase a full week of letter F 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! 

Firefighter Activities

This week of curriculum has so many fun firefighter-themed activities. We definitely spent most of our week focused on all things firefighter-related!

For the letter of the week decorating, we kept it really simple and decorated it with fire colors. We used red, orange, and yellow do-a-dots.

In the middle of the week, I set up an activity mat that was firefighter-themed. These are super simple to setup and make for a great activity that offers variety and options. Tracing is still tough for H, but he has been enjoying using cars/trucks to follow the dotted line. This is a great way to work on beginning tracing skills! These activity mats are also perfect for displaying a few themed book options. We checked out SO many awesome firefighter books from the library. The favorites were definitely My Mom is a Firefighter and Curious George and the Firefighters.

This week of curriculum also included some name recognition practice! This is a skill I have not focused on much with H, but is something I want to work on and get him to recognize by the end of the school year! For this activity, I wrote his name on the fire truck template. I then wrote each individual letter on the fire templates. I laminated these and cut them out. I hid them around the house and had H look for them and bring them to the truck. It was fun! While he was not super into ordering them to match his name on the truck, this is a great start to getting him to recognize the letters in his name. Not to mention, name recognition is a great way to get your little one to learn the alphabet.

Fall-Themed Activities

The perfect time of year to do fall-related activities for the letter F. The curriculum includes some leaf size sorting and a fall leaf do-a-dot. For do-a-dot letters, I have been enjoying using other objects besides dots. This is a fun way to mix up the ordinary do-a-dot and makes it more tied to a specific theme.

Farm Activities

This week, we visited Underwood Family Farms. We got to see all the pumpkins, ride on a wagon, and see lots of farm animals! H loved seeing all the animals, especially the pigs and chickens. To pair with this field trip, we read the book On the Farm (which is pretty simple, but H really loved it). In the curriculum, there are farm animal puppets that match with all the animals in the book. I laminated them and attached a popsicle stick. I spread them out and as we read the book, I had H pick up the correlating animal. It turned out to be a fun and engaging way to read the story. Also, great for imaginative play.

You can purchase this week of curriculum for just $5 at my TpT store! This week of curriculum is jam-packed with tons of great learning activities. This blog just scratches the surface! There are so many activities we did not even get a chance to complete. Hope you enjoy!

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!