Tot School: The Letter A

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 1: The Letter A

Letter A Books

Amazing Airplanes 

Ten Apples Up on Top by Dr. Seuss 

There’s An Alligator Under My Bed by Mercer Mayer 

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

Hey Little Ant by Phillip H. Hoose 

Letter A Curriculum

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

Monday: Airplane Park Field Trip + Airplane Size Sorting

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

Tuesday: Letter A Apple Stamping 

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

Wednesday: Alligator Counting Activity 

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

Thursday: Apple Pie Scissor Cutting Tray + Apple Pie Making 

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

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

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

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

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

Letter A Sensory Bin

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

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

Our Story of Miscarriage

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

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

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

Things certainly have taken a turn. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ultrasound that Changed Everything

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

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

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

The Texting Ultrasound Tech

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

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

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

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

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

Symptoms of miscarriage.

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

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

Mask Full of Tears

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

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

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

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

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

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

Procedural Coldness

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

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

Salty Milkshake

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

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

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

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

Malibu Escape

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

Handle with Care

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

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

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

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

A Missed Miscarriage

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

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

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

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

Closure + Covid Tests

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

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

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

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

Days Following D&C Surgery

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

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

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

Our Why

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

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