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!

Week of Play: The Color Yellow

This week we learned all about the color YELLOW!  It was a week full of sunshine, lemonade, and buzzing bumble bees! There is something about the color yellow that just makes you happy.  Our week of play seemed to feel happier and lighter as we explored this bright and summery color.  

Week 3: The Color Yellow

This is what our week of yellow looked like: 

Yellow Books of the Week 

Super Submarines by Tony Mitton & Ant Parker  

This is a great story if you have a little one that loves vehicles!  We listened to “Yellow Submarines” by the Beatles a lot this week, so out of curiosity I wanted to see if there was a book about a yellow submarine.  And there is!  This is not only a perfect yellow-themed book to read, it is also very informative.  The authors go into great detail describing the purpose of a submarine and the different parts!  If you do not have access to get a copy of this book, there is a great read-aloud version on Youtube.

Yellow Copter by Kersten Hamilton 

This one is another great yellow-vehicle story!  There even is a mention of a crane, which is one of H’s current obsessions.  It is a perfect book for babies and little ones with shorter attention spans! There are very few words and the images are bright and engaging.  It is a simple storyline with a happy ending of the yellow copter saving the teacher that is stuck in a ferris wheel.  This would be another perfect book for yellow week. If you do not have a copy easily accessible, there is a read-aloud version for this story as well. 

We also read a couple books this week that had yellow characters and objects in them.  Spot’s Birthday Party by Eric Hill or any of the Spot books are fun ones to read and point out how Spot and Sally are yellow doggies. 

Any of the Curious George books would also be great to read during this week with the bright yellow book covers + the man with the yellow hat!

Monday Morning: Yellow Sensory Bin

For this week’s bin, it was not difficult to find an abundance of yellow things!  

This week’s bin consisted of: Yellow blocks, balls, pegs, train tracks, big lego blocks, plastic coins, stars, shapes, giraffe, toy pan, plastic cheese, finger puppet chick, pom poms, popsicle sticks, feathers, foam shapes, textured material, tractors, a Lego Duplo submarine, and a few other random yellow things. 

I have noticed that H has not been very interested in playing with the bin throughout the week, but I still think creating the bin with him is a great way to teach a specific color.  This week I included him in the process of helping mama find all the yellow things in our playroom.  He seemed to really enjoy this!

Monday Afternoon: Yellow Bubble Foam + Vehicle Play

In the afternoon, I made some yellow bubble foam.  There are tons of recipes and play ideas out there for bubble foam.  I was inspired by Bored Toddler’s recipe and setup.  Bubble foam is super simple to whip up, literally! 

All you need is:

  • ½ cup bubble bath (tear-free)
  • ¼ cup water
  • A few drops of food dye for color

I added some yellow food coloring drops to make it go along with our color week and then simply whipped it up with a hand-blender.  I put the setting on high and it quickly became a thicker consistency.  I would recommend whipping it in a bowl and then pouring it into the bin you plan to have your children play with.  

Hudson got super excited when he saw the yellow foam.  He started clapping his hands and jumping up and down.  I threw in some small yellow tractors, which got him even more excited.  After playing with the bubble foam and tractors for a bit, he quickly became uninterested. 

To make the activity last a bit longer, I created a “Yellow Truck Wash.”  I set up a bucket with soapy water, handed him a sponge, and he loved it.  Just make sure the trucks you let your little ones wash are okay with getting water on them!

Tuesday: Apple Star Stamps + Lemon Moon Stamps 

This craft did not turn out exactly how I imagined, but it still fun to show H how when you cut an apple in half, a star shape is revealed. 

To create this star stamp: Simply cut apple in half to create two parts, the top and the bottom.  I then cut away the edges to make a smaller square shape.  This proved to help make the star more visible when stamped.  

To create this moon stamp: Simply cut a lemon in half. Then, cut a way a small chunk to give it a more moon-like appearance.

Other materials you will need: 

  • Black construction paper
  • Yellow paint (if you are doing this project with a baby that still puts things to their mouth, try a safe-taste paint recipe).
  • White chalk to create a title or to let you little one draw on finished product 
  • Glue and glitter to add a final touch!

Quite honestly, H was not super into the stamping process.  It was mostly me showing him how to do it.  However, he did really enjoy dripping glue everywhere and shaking on the glitter.  Especially when you do crafts with little ones under 2, it is definitely not guaranteed they will be into it.  I still believe a craft is a success if there is a small part they find interest in! For this one, it was the glue + the glitter. 

Wednesday: Lemonade and Lemon Bar Picnic + Lemon Scoop Activity 

Naturally, when you are learning about the color, lemonade and lemon bars must be on the list!  

Grammy brought over an entire bag of lemons and we ended up using the entire bag for both the lemonade and lemon bars.  

We used this lemonade recipe.  We used an electric juice squeezer that made it easy for H to help squeeze the lemons.  H and his auntie squeezed all the lemons together!  After we made the lemonade, we enjoyed some sunshine and sipped our lemonade in the backyard!

Before we squeezed more lemons for the lemon bars, we made a fun game out of the remaining lemons.  This Lemon Scoop Game is SO simple and H literally had the best time.  I simply but a bowl of lemons on one side and an empty bowl on the other side.  I gave him a big serving spoon and had him scoop the lemons and race them over to the empty bowl.  I made it feel like a race and said on your mark, get set, go!  Everytime he got all the lemons into the bowl, I cheered and he got super excited and asked for more.  

Thursday: Toilet Paper Roll Bee Craft 

For this craft, you will need:

  • Toilet paper roll
  • Yellow and black paint
  • Card stock paper (we used yellow)
  • Googly eyes (we used extra big ones)
  • Pipe cleaners (again, we used yellow)

This bee craft turned out SUPER cute.  The process, however, was a bit more tedious.  I realized mid-craft this was a bit more challenging for H to get involved.  I was planning on having him paint the yellow stripes on the bee, but that proved to be too challenging for him.  He was more interested in wildly painting on the yellow construction paper.  I let him to do this with the yellow and black paint.  I then took this artwork and cut out two oval shapes for the wings.  It made the wings look super unique and it was a great way to showcase H’s artwork.  

After the stripes were painted, I cut out a cicle for the head, and glued all the parts together!  We glued big googly eyes on the head and I drew a nose and smile.  For the antennas I cut pieces of yellow pipe cleaner and used scotch tape to attach to the back of its head.  

Even though H was not super into this craft, he loved the final product!  This craft created even more play and imagination as I ran around the house chasing him with the bee. The toilet paper roll makes it the perfect finger puppet too!

A fun book to pair with this bee craft that we love: Orville: The Bumble Bee Who Didn’t Belive He Could Fly.  This book has beautiful illustrations!  It is a sweet story of a bumble bee that through the encouragement of his friends eventually comes to believe that he can fly, even with small wings.

Friday: Turn the Baseballs into Softballs Painting Activity 

Our Friday was super full, so I did a super simple paint set up on the easle board.  I simply drew three baseballs on white card stock.  I then gave H a paint brush and some yellow paint and told him to paint the baseballs yellow.  I also had a white baseball and yellow softball displayed for him to show him the difference!  

Once your little one is finished painting the baseballs yellow, you could cut the circles out and let them play with the dried product!

Saturday: Yellow Collage Activity

Our week was pretty full, so this collage activity fit into our week better as a Saturday morning project.  This would be another great setup for really any early morning activity.  H is usually more fresh and willing to go along with my different crafts and activities earlier in the day! 

For this collage we used the following yellow materials: feathers, popsicle sticks, pom poms, origami paper cut into squares, pipe cleaners, foam shapes.  

At this stage with H, projects like this are definitely still a team effort.  Similarly to the bee project, even when he doesn’t in the moment seem super into it, he loves the final product.  In his playroom, I have been displaying each collage with the appropriate color flashcard.  He loves seeing his artwork displayed at eye-level! 

Ideas We Did Not Get To: 

  • Sun Craft 
  • Lion Craft (using picked yellow flowers as mane) 
  • Griaffe Craft
  • Yellow Fire Hydrant Scavenger Hunt 
  • Paint the M yellow on Waste Management Trash Truck 
  • Drop off sunflowers to neighbors with a sweet note 

Week of Play: The Color Orange

For week 2 of our color unit, we focused on the color orange! It is amazing when your mind is focused on a particular thing, how much you begin to notice.  Orange has never been a favorite color of mine, but after spending a week all about orange, I must say I have a greater appreciation for the way it points us to things. 

Hudson and I noticed how much orange was everywhere along the street and within construction sites.  Traffic cones, street barricades, the letters on trucks.  Orange is everywhere.  It is not the type of color that gets all the glory, like blue or green, but our world simply would not function as well without this bright color pointing us into the right direction.  So thank you, orange!

With this new appreciation for all things orange, Hudson and I had a lot of fun exploring and learning about this color through books, play, and hands-on activities.  

Week 2: The Color Orange

This is what our week of orange looked like:

Orange Books of the Week

  1. Who Eats Orange? by Dianne White 

This book was the perfect book to read again and again this week.  It is a great book to teach all the different colors through types of food and the animals that eat each color.  The illustrations are beautiful and bright.  

  1. Orange Blob by CJ Smith

We do not have a copy of this book, so we watched it on Youtube.  It is a really cute story about a blob that only does orange things.  The word “orange” is repeated a lot throughout the story, so it is great for little learners.  Also, orange blob only plays with orange soccer balls, which made Hudson excited, since he too loves playing soccer.  

  1. It’s Pumpkin Time! By Zoe Hall

Even though this book is centered around planting pumpkin seeds for Halloween, it is still a fun one to read in the spring as it explains the process of growing a pumpkin. I love the bright illustrations of this book and the way it shows the changing colors of the pumpkins as they grow.

  1. Peek-A-Flap Dig! By Jaye Garnett

After noticing how much orange is within construction sites, we pulled this book off our shelf. This is definitely a favorite of Hudson’s. He loves the flaps and loves naming the different trucks and equipment. He gets very excited at the crane and bulldozer page. A fun orange activity with this book is to point out all the orange cones.

Monday: Orange Sensory Bin + Orange Scavenger Walk 

For this week’s bin, we collected as many orange things we could find.  I definitely noticed we had less orange items than red items from last week, but we had enough to make a relatively full bin.  

Our orange bin consisted of: Lego Duplo clown fish, big orange lego blocks, plush basketball, orange drumsticks, orange train tracks, foam pumpkin cutouts, lion and tiger finger puppets, orange letters, orange popsicle sticks, orange pom poms, and a few other random orange things. 

Similar to last week, we made towers with the orange blocks in the bin and we made an orange line after reading The Lineup Book.

On our orange scavenger walk, we got the chance to really notice the beautiful orange flowers in our neighbor’s frontyard and the orange leaves on the ground.  This orange scavenger hunt continued throughout our week, as we noticed how the Ex on the FedEx truck is orange and even sometimes green.  We noticed the amount of orange traffic cones and signs and barricades out right now due to the quarantine.  Even the rocks along the shore were all orange!

This color scavenger walk is a great activity to carry throughout your week.  You might just be surprised at how much one particular color is in fact all around you!  

Tuesday: Squeeze Orange Juice + Bouncing Basketball Craft

Grammy came over this Tuesday morning and Hudson and her together squeezed some fresh orange juice.  Hudson loves making juice with his grammy and especially loves drinking it after! 

Like the baseball craft from last week, I wanted to come up with an orange craft that was aligned with Hudson’s interests.  Naturally, I landed on basketballs.  For this simple craft, I took a paper cup and covered the opening with foil.  We used this as a cicle stamp to create the basketball shape.  I actually really like the way the foil stamp turned out! It created circles that have a more textured look on paper.  A sponge cut into a circle would also work well for this craft.

On the cardstock, I created dotted “bounces” as a guide to encourage him to stamp the basketball at the bottom and top of the peaks.  This allows the basketballs to look as if they are bouncing across the page.  

Hudson loved the outcome and enjoyed watching me draw the lines on the basketball, but was not as into the process of stamping. I have a feeling he will enjoy a craft like this even more in a year.  

The part Hudson enjoyed the most was actually the process of creating the orange paint.  I only had white paint, so we created our own by adding red and yellow dye to the paint.  This is a fun way to show how colors are created.  H really enjoyed adding the yellow dye and mixing it with his paintbrush. 

Wednesday: Orange Picnic + Carrot Dig 

There are SO many yummy orange foods, so it was easy to create a full picnic with all of our orange favorites.  In our picnic, we had orange slices, cheddar rocket crackers from Trader Joe’s, dried mango, carrots, and a carrot-apple squeeze pack also from Trader Joe’s.  

A color picnic is a fun and tasty way to teach colors!  Thinking of the color orange even helped guide me as I made my weekly grocery trip.  I found myself trying new flavors and foods because they were orange and I was curious.  

The carrot dig sensory bin setup was SO simple and was by far Hudson’s favorite activity that we did all week.  All I did was pour soil into an aluminum food tray and buried about 12 carrots.  Hudson is very into all things gardening, so this was the perfect activity for him.  He loved shoveling the dirt and it was nice to have a more controlled area where playing with dirt and digging were acceptable.  After he found all the carrots, I let him wash them with a bowl of water.  The washing them part was equally as fun for him.  

This activity is a great thing to leave out for a few hours and let your little ones go and play with it as they wish.  

Thursday: Paint the Ex Orange + Pumpkin-Vine Weaving 

I came up with this idea as I noticed on our Monday run how bright and orange the Ex is on the FedEx truck.  Hudson is very much into all types of trucks so this was another way for me to tie in his interests.  I did not have much expectations for this craft, but it turned out to be a fun one.  Hudson definitely needed help to actually paint the white space on the Ex, but he did enjoy wildly waving his orange brush all over.  

Even though it is not fall, we did play a bit with pumpkins.  With some of the foam pumpkin cutouts I had, I showed him how to hole punch and helped him to weave the vine (green pipe cleaner) into the top of the pumpkin.  This is a great activity for those fine motor skills.  This activity would work great paired with that pumpkin book I mentioned above. 

Friday: Orange Collage Activity + Orange Water Mixing/Sponge Activity

We used similar materials from last week’s collage: white card stock paper, feathers, pom poms, popsicle sticks, foam shapes, orange origami paper, and pipe cleaners.

This week, I left the materials out longer, so he could come to the art table when he actually felt like it. I realized morning time is a better time for him to do an activity like this. He was much more into pointing to where he wanted each item to go on the paper. I helped him glue, but he showed me the design he had in mind. It was a good team effort.

For the water activity, I simply created two containers of water: one dyed red and one dyed yellow. I let him scoop with a cup each color into a new bowl to make orange. I also put some sponges out for him to play with. With the orange water, we worked on sponge transferring water to the empty containers. So simple and a great way to show how the color orange is made.

Mother’s Day Reflections

I have a confession: on my first Mother’s Day (last year) I was not very kind to my sweet husband. 

Looking back on that day, we had a great day celebrating with both of our moms, but I can still remember the way we ended the day on my own bitterness with unmet and very unrealistic expectations.  

Like a lot of new moms celebrating their first Mother’s Day, I had expectations in my head about what the day would look like.  While there is nothing wrong with hoping for a special day, here was the problem: I did not share a single one of those expectations with Lance.  Needless to say, I ended feeling not fully satisfied not because I don’t have the most loving and thoughtful husband, but because outwardly I made Mother’s Day seem like not a big deal, when in my own little head it was a very, very big deal. 

Lesson learned.  This Mother’s Day was different. And it was a new favorite day. 

Want to know what changed? I was honest. Before falling asleep the night before, I told him very directly: I would love breakfast in bed.  His response: sure, what sounds good? 

Well, that was simple.  And guess what happened.  I slowly woke up Sunday morning to the literal sizzling of bacon and the lovely smell of pepper and melted cheese.  And mama was happy. 

It wasn’t really ever about the food. Simply put, I would be happy with just a cup of coffee, it was more about the act of service.  I felt so loved not because of the amazing bacon omelette, I felt loved because Lance got up early and came walking in smiling with breakfast and I could see the effort, the love, and the care.  And from that moment on, the day was perfect.  

It all started with me quickly mentioning before falling asleep the expectation I had in my head.  Because as loving and thoughtful as Lance is, he simply cannot read my mind!

Once silly Mother’s Day expectations were met, I was able to fully see with clear eyes the amount of love that daily surrounds me.  

It was a sweet day spent with both of our moms.  

Bellinis were sipped.  Lots of yummy Mediterranean food was consumed. Chocolate cake and key lime pie were devoured.  Sweet cards and beautiful flowers and gifts were exchanged.  And Hudson picked purple flowers for me and said “mommy” extra sweetly. 

Once our moms and families left, we rested and then went back out to the pool and splashed around for a bit. I created a spa set up and Lance even attempted to paint my nails. It was the sweetest thing, but let’s just say I had to take over after the first nail.  His willingness to try will always be remembered!   

All that to say, it was a good day.

My heart felt full + thankful. 

I am thankful to be surrounded by so many amazing women that set such a beautiful example of what it looks like to mother well.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Themed Week of Play: The Color Red

This past week was ROUGH. There is no way to sugarcoat it. It was a combination of things: the news, my hormones, the broken laptop screen.  

I don’t want to get into the details, but let’s just say I had a minute left on my workout video playing from my laptop and Hudson decided he needed a way to fully get mommy’s attention.  And it worked. I lost my mind on him. And we both were crying hysterically.  A very low moment of my week.  Not solely because of the laptop.  Definitely not ideal and an expensive mistake, but that moment was ultimately a low because I felt so terrible at how quickly I lost my cool with sweet Hudson.  Not my best mom moment.  But, it was humbling. It was the first moment I ever needed to really ask my son for forgiveness.  I know this will absolutely be the first of many and my continued prayer is that God will continue to give me the grace and humility to openly admit to my children when I am wrong. 

With that said, it was not just the laptop incident.  It was an overall feeling that seemed to not leave me all week.  Simply put, it was not my week. I was not my best self.  

In this week of weakness, one of the things that pulled me through and kept me focused was the color RED.

That might sound strange, but let me explain. 

Why Themed Weeks of Play?

Pinterest overwhelms me.  Like big time.  Quite frankly, it makes me feel frozen.  All at once I am flooded with thousands of brilliant toddler activities and crafts, and I don’t even know where to start. So I pin a bunch of things and never do any of it. 

I had an epiphany this week and realized I needed to be more focused when I went to Pinterest. If I go to Pinterest to find an activity to do with Hudson and search “toddler indoor activities” I will become frozen with comparison and doubt.  If I search: “simple toddler ladybug craft” I will quickly become inspired and make it happen that afternoon.  See the difference?

This concept of being more focused and choosing themed weeks for play-based learning was all inspired by an amazing blog I found, Mrs. Plemon’s Kindergarten.  Her blog is beautiful and full of amazing curriculum ideas at home for babies to big kids.  I happened to discover her blog in one of my many overwhelmed moments on Pinterest.  It was through her website that I realized I just needed greater focus when it comes to planning activities and crafts for H. 

This has been a game-changer.  It will be a rhythm I will definitely keep post-quarantine.

At first glance this might seem like a lot of extra work that only really creative and organized moms do, but I am convinced that is just not true. It is actually quite simple and literally has been saving my sanity. On Sunday, I quickly jotted down one red-themed activity for each day.  I made adjustments as the week got going. It was flexible, simple, and a helpful tool to really focus on one specific color with H.  He still mostly just says everything is “blue,” but I noticed towards the end of the week, even the way he said “red” was becoming more clear.  

Week 1: The Color Red

This is what our week of RED looked like:

Red books of the week 

  1. Firebears The Rescue Team!  by Rhonda Gowler Greene
  2. Llama, Llama Red Pajama  by Anna Dewdney 

Monday: Red Sensory Bin + Red Scavenger Walk 

For the bin, I took an aluminum food tray from Costco and literally just went around the playroom gathering everything that was red.  This took me minutes to complete and it was a bin I had had out for him to play with all week.  It is a great way for his eyes to really focus on the color and play with certain toys he usually doesn’t touch. 

Our red bin consisted of: Elmo, lots of fire trucks, red letters, big red legos, red cars, red shapes, red balls, a red monkey, red pegs, toy apple, and a few other random red things.  

We go on morning walks every day with our dog. On our first walk of the week, we went on a “red scavenger walk” and together tried to point out as many red things as possible. A lot of it is still me showing him the flowers, cars, and stop signs that are red, but I think this type of dialogue is important.

Tuesday: Red Tower Building + Red Line 

We used the same bin set-up from Monday.  Using the red legos, we built towers together!  After some tower-building fun, I brought out one of our favorite books, The Line-Up Book by Marisabina Russo.  This was a favorite book from my childhood and thankfully my mom kept it! It is not only a perfect book for toddlers who love lining things up, it is also a great book to pair with a follow-up activity.  After reading this book, we created our own line with the different red objects from the bin.

Wednesday: Ladybug Thumbprint Craft + Red Picnic 

For this week’s craft, we made these cute ladybugs (inspired by the blog, I Heart Crafty Things). We used his thumbprints to make the spots! They turned out really cute and would be the perfect idea for a card. In all honestly, crafting with Hudson is a bit of a challenge. The process for this craft would have been a lot easier if I precut the shapes and set out all materials before he woke up from his nap.

Materials: white card stock; black construction paper cut into small circles (head), larger circle (body), and thin rectangles (antennas); 2 googly eyes; red construction paper or origami paper cut into two semi-circles (wings;, green construction or origami paper leaf (option for child to decorate leaf with crayons); glue stick; and black paint for thumbprints.

Hudson is really into picnics right now.  Each week of our color-themed week, I plan to have an outdoor picnic will feature foods of that color.  This week, we simply cut up strawberries together and ate those.  In future weeks, I hope to get creative with some of the foods of that color.  This could be a good opportunity to introduce little ones to different kinds of food. 

Thursday: Paint the Red Lines on Baseballs + Red Water Play

Hudson is obsessed with baseballs.  I thought it would be fun for him to paint red lines onto circles I drew on card stock.  I drew lines for him to trace with his paintbrush, but developmentally this would be a better project for 3-4 year-olds. He still had fun wildly painting the “baseballs” red.  

In an aluminum tray, I created a red pouring station. I simply used a red color tablet we use during bath time and brought out cups and bottles for him to pour with. 

Friday: Red Collage 

As inspired by Mrs. Plemon’s Kindergarten blog, we will be making a color collage at the end of every week.  Once we have gone through all the colors, I will bind it into a simple book for him to flip through!  This will be a fun keepsake and a great learning tool to practice color recognition.  

For this collage activity, I set it up as he was napping, which did help make it a smoother process.  I simply gathered all the red art supplies we had (most of which is found from the Dollar Store).  

Materials: White card stock paper, feathers, popsicle sticks, red aloha shirt card, foam shapes, pom poms, cupcake liners, and pipe cleaners.

TIP: If you have a toddler, like mine, that is not so into arts + crafts, keep materials out on an accessible table for them to come to work on when they feel like it.  Hudson really cannot be pushed when it comes to doing art. 

There you go. Our RED week! It kept our week fun and full with activities that were all done with materials we had around the house (minus a few of the collage materials- I had to do a quick Dollar Tree run for those).

If you are considering doing themed weeks with your little ones, I hope this gets you inspired! Don’t feel like you have to do everything the same. It has been a really great creative outlet for me to think of that particular color and things that Hudson has interest in, such as firetrucks + the stitches on a baseball. Tailor activities that match with the interests of your child! It will definitely increase engagement. It might not be Pinterest-perfect, but it will be the perfect thing for your unique child and that is what matters.

The Perfect Quarantine Weekend

It is no secret that I am ready for life to return to some semblance of normalcy, but there are definitely a few things that I want to stay the same even after quarantine.  One being an open weekend.  Typically, our weekend plans are so filled to the brim with plans and things to do.  This makes for fun and full weekends, but these types of weekends often lead to tired and drained out Mondays. 

Now, weekends are fully blank slates.  Infinite possibilities.  Well, not infinite because there is not much to do currently, but it does make way for much more restorative time away from the hustle of the week.  

We just had one of those magical weekends.  The one where it feels like time is endless.  It was the perfect combination of productive and rejuvenating.  It was full of family, doughnuts, fresh air, and lots of sunshine; a winning combination in my book.  

After this magical weekend, I am convinced that quarantine weekends can in fact be just as good, I will go as far to say, even better.  It just requires some intentionality.  

Just like I would write down a recipe that resulted in the perfect meal, I want to do the same for this amazing weekend we just lived out.  I don’t want to forget it.  

In no particular order, here are a few ingredients to what I am calling, the perfect quarantine weekend.  

1. Slow Start

Usually with marathon training or a regular weekend, there is something that requires an alarm on a Saturday morning.  It has been refreshing to not have an urgent alarm that requires me to get up before 6 am.  This slow start sets the tone. 

2. Doughnuts  

Saturdays and Sundays are NOT for oatmeal and toast.  This weekend we picked up Sidecar Doughnuts.  I am convinced doughnuts on a Saturday morning are always a good idea.  For some reason, this time they tasted even better.  They were warm and tasted like summer.

3. Fresh Air 

With most trails and beaches closed near us, the options for a nice hike are limited. We took a little drive to Orange County and as we waited for our doughnuts to be ready, we went on a short walk on the Back Bay Trail in Newport.  It was nice to be in a setting outside of our normal neighborhood + to take some detours off the main path onto some narrower dirt trails.  The view of the bay is beautiful and there are yellow wildflowers everywhere.  It felt good to not only get outside, but to get outside somewhere outside of our normal view.

4. Family  

Some rules were broken and we did spend time with family this weekend.  Definitely not condoning rule breaking, but my heart could only take being apart from extended family for so long.  It was live-giving to spend quality time with family that we love.

5. Takeout

We have a rule where we order takeout every Saturday night.  It is our small way in helping local food establishments, while also giving us all a much needed break from cooking + dishes.  It is such a small thing, but these weekly takeout Saturday evenings have become a thing we look forward to and a much needed break from our regular weekly routine.  A few of our takeout favs: Cava, Bamboo Thai, Senor G’s, and Mendocino Farms.

6. Play

Our weekend was full of a lot of bubbles, chalk, legos, coloring, and running around.  In the week, I like to set a few intentional/educational activities and projects for H.  By the weekend, I need a break and it is all about just free play.  It is one of the most rejuvenating things to watch a little kid freely play.  It gets me every time.  Quite honestly, watching Hudson and his own creativity develop, pushes me to continue to lean into my own creative passions.

7. Water

Water makes everything better.  We are really thankful to have a pool.  It has been a blessing in this time stuck at home.  This has been a source of abundant entertainment and energy release for our active, water-obsessed boy.  It also has been a joy to lounge out by the water and watch H splash around with his daddy and Nala, who is also water-obsessed.  

8. Creativity

Sunday was a day that just kept on giving.  I felt like I got to dabble in every single one of my creative passions.  I knitted.  I scrapbooked a few memories from last fall.  I read a book just for fun. 

I feel so much more fulfilled even when I give myself ten minutes away in the bedroom to knit a couple rows.  By the way, things are not going well there.  There is a giant hole, but I am determined to finish.  Like, I wrote about last week, I am choosing to embrace the process over the outcome.  Knitted hat with holes is greater than not ever trying.

9. Books

Lots of words were consumed this weekend.  Some spent near the pool as I listened to giggles from H, and some spent in my Sunday Bath.  Water and words just go together.  Last month, I did a couple audiobooks, but this weekend I was reminded that nothing beats having a book in hand.  

10. More Sunshine

Vitamin D was in no shortage this weekend.  We seemed to be outside soaking up all the sunshine for the majority of the weekend.  It made for some burnt and happy faces.   

11. Banana Bread

Part of what made this weekend feel so lovely is that Hudson actually took really nice long naps.  I am convinced that is thanks to the water + sunshine.  In this long nap time, Lance and I had the sweet leisure to make banana bread together.  This might seem like a small thing, but it is so contrary to our normal hustle and bustle, that it felt like sweet time together.  Lance mashed bananas, and I measured out ingredients. 

12. A little Netflix

Emphasis here on a little.  I never feel great after hours spent on Netflix mindlessly consuming tv.  That is definitely not life-giving for me.  This weekend, we had the perfect sprinkling of Netflix.  We giggled and rested as we watched our new favorite series.  But we did this for only the length of the show, 20-minutes.  It was the perfect little break and the right amount of time to then continue on little projects that brought us more joy, like that banana bread I mentioned above.

13. Unplug 

The days always feel longer (in a good way) when I am not constantly checking my phone.  Sundays are my much needed day away from social media and email.  It is a rule and I respect it.  It allows for greater presence and greater joy and ultimately allows for long days filled with lovely things, like knitting a few stitches and holding actual photos in my hands.  

14. Spontaneous Drives 

It feels like most of our days revolve around obligation.  The things we have to do.  Up until this pandemic, we never made enough margin for spontaneous things that had no purpose or plan.  Not to say this has happened frequently, but there have been a couple evenings after dinner that we decided to take a drive.  Not to any particular place.  Not to see any particular person, but just because we had the time and curiosity to do so. 

There it is. 14 ingredients to help craft a perfect weekend even amidst pandemic and quarantine.  There might not be many options when it comes to weekend plans, but with some intentionality and creativity, the weekend can have its own rhythm set apart. And it can still be lovely.

Embracing Process Over Outcome

Last Monday, Hudson and I attempted to make homemade noodles. Like a lot of things in my life, I had a picture of what the outcome would look like. In my head, it looked almost identical to the perfect noodles pictured in Joanna Gaines’ cookbook. Let’s just say they looked nothing like the picture. While her’s actually looked like noodles you would have bought from the store; mine looked strange and unnameable. I couldn’t even will myself to post a picture of the outcome because they looked so strange. Something clearly went awry. This was not the outcome I was expecting.

All week I have been thinking about this soup.  I have been thinking about if my mindset was merely outcome driven, I would have been pretty disappointed.  And here’s the thing, I usually am outcome driven.  I am all about a clear measurable.  My heart rests a bit easier when I can see a spreadsheet of all the things I did accomplish in a day.  That is one of the reasons I love training for a marathon.  I love the outcome of high mileage.  Even if I produce nothing else the rest of the day, it feels good to know that I ran 20 miles.  That is an outcome I can be proud of.  But here’s the thing, what about the seasons where you are not training for anything? What about the seasons that do not have a clear goal or some outcome that can be measured?  What is the indicator of success?  

Those noodles the other night were not my definition of success.  However, Lance did snap a few quick photos of Hudson and I making those noodles.  And when I look at those photos, I see success.  I see happy faces and floured noses.  I see time well spent in the kitchen. 

There are a handful of lessons this season of quarantine is teaching me.  One is this: the process is always sweeter than the outcome.  In times where we do not have races, or stages, or arenas to display our outcomes, the process becomes essential.  We must lean in and embrace the sweet process of things and not be quite as concerned with the outcome.  

For me, personally embracing the process looks a bit like this: 

  1. Getting out to run with zero expectations on mileage and pace.
  2. Making noodles for the sake of spending quality time with my son with zero expectations that it will look like Joanna’s.
  3. Writing words for the sake of creativity and the fact that I am a better person when I am creating + vulnerable.
  4. Sending bold emails. There are lots of no’s, but I am embracing this process of putting myself out there.
  5. Trying new activities with Hudson and being absolutely okay when they do not look like Pinterest.
  6. Taking photos and capturing moments that are not perfect.
  7. Journaling. This is one of the best ways I can look back on the process of my life + see the Lord’s kindness.
  8. Prayer. This outcome-oriented girl needs a lot of help from the Lord to see new vision and embrace the process of things more.

Process over outcome.  It is freeing.  It allows room for grace.  It allows you to sit down at the dinner table still smiling as you eat noodles that look nothing like Joanna’s. It allows you to create, run, write, love, and step out in boldness because it is not about the outcome. It is something more. Something greater. It is about who you are becoming in the process.