Week of Play: The Color Blue

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

Week 5: The Color Blue

This is what our week of blue looked like: 

Blue Books of the Week

The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle 

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

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

Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle 

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

Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton 

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

Thomas & Friends

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

Blue Sensory Bin

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

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

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

Monday: Paint Cookie Monster Blue + Cookie Counting Activity

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

For this paint setup, all you need is:

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

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

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

For this cookie counting activity, all you need is: 

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

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

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

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

Tuesday: Ocean in A Bottle 

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

All you need is:

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

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

Wednesday: Blue Sand Art 

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

For this activity, all you need is: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For this blue horse activity, all you need is: 

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

Friday: Blue Chia Sensory Play with Boats 

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

For this sensory bin, all you need is:

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

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

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

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

Saturday: Blue Collage Activity 

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Playing! 

Week of Play: The Color Green

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

Week 4: The Color Green 

This is what our week of green looked like: 

Green Books of the Week 

Froggy Learns to Swim by Jonathan London

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

Green Wilma by Tedd Arnold 

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

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

Other Book Ideas:

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

Green Sensory Bin

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

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

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

Monday: Plant Something Green 

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

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

Tuesday: Jumping Frog Origami Craft 

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

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

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

Wednesday: Green Slime + Dinosaurs  

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday Afternoon: Toilet Paper Roll Frog Craft

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

Materials:

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

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

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

Friday:  Herb Watercolor Painting + Leaf Tracing 

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

Materials: 

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

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

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

Materials: 

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

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

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

Saturday: Green Collage Activity 

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

10 Favorite Valentine’s Day Books

It is no secret that I am a lover of children’s books.  I also love love, so it only makes sense that I share a few of my favorite Valentine’s Day books to read and give to your little ones this year!  

Over here in the Capel home, we are starting a new tradition of giving a new book for Valentine’s Day instead of the classic candy and stuffed animal option.  Our sugar-obsessed toddler definitely does not need anymore chocolate in his life and his room is already overflowing with lots of stuffed animal friends.

Candy is eaten, stuffed animals are played with and tossed in the basket, but books, those just keep giving.  Hudson’s book shelves can always use more company, we will never reach full-capacity when it comes to books, so it really is the perfect way to say “I love you…let’s read together.” 

10 favorite Valentine's Day books for toddlers, kids, preschoolers, babies

There are SO many cute books, specifically designed for Valentine’s Day, these are just my 10 favorite!  I put some classic ones that you probably have already seen on the shelves of Target in their Valentine’s Day book display, but I also put some that more intentionally share about God’s love.

  I have no problem with fun and cute books about the more cultural elements of giving cards and chocolates, but I always like balancing out the collection with more meaningful books that point little ones to larger truths, like the great care and love of God. This list is designed specifically for baby though preschool-aged little ones!

  1. Happy Valentine’s Day, Mouse! By Laura Numeroff 

For our fall collection of books, we checked out, It’s Pumpkin Day, Mouse! at the library and that quickly became Hudson’s favorite book.  “EEK! It’s a scary pumpkin!” became the line Lance and I would constantly say to get Hudson excited.  When I saw this Valentine’s Day version at Target, I quickly snatched it, knowing it would make the perfect gift for Hudson.  I love that it is a board book. I love the illustrations and how each page is dedicated to something lovely about each of Mouse’s friends.  This will definitely be a hit for Hudson, and I have a feeling this will become the new favorite that is read again and again and again.  

  1. The Biggest Valentine Ever 

This is another great classic Valentine’s Day book, also involving a mouse, actually involving mice!  I love this book because it feels like there is more of a substance to it as the story helps teach little ones the beauty in collaboration and working together to make something even bigger and better.

  1. Happy Love Day, Daniel Tiger!: A Lift-the-Flap Book by Becky Friedman 

This book is a win-win: Daniel Tiger + flaps.  Two things my toddler absolutely loves. I always love books that he can interact with. This book has flaps he can pull to reveal how the Daniel Tiger characters show their love for each other.  And like I said, it is Daniel Tiger, so it automatically is a hit.

  1. Love from the Very Hungry Catepillar by Eric Carle

We are big fans of Eric Carle, so this book needed to make the list!  Unlike most of his books, this one does not have much of a storyline. However, I like it for the beautiful images that are familiar in the eyes of my hungry caterpillar-obsessed toddler. The book contains tons of cute phrases, like “You are the cherry on my cake” and “The apple of my eye.” With these beautiful images and short lines, this is a great one for babies and toddlers.

  1. Llama, Llama, I Love You by Anna Dew

Hudson loves the Lllama, Llama books, so this one has also been a hit.  Again, not a super intriguing storyline as it is mostly about llama making Valentine’s Day cards and loving his mama llama. Hudson loves it and asks for it every night, so naturally it had to make the list!

  1. The Berenstain Bears Love One Another by Mike Berenstain

I have always loved the Berenstain Bear books, but especially love them now as a lot of them point little readers to the love of God.  Typically, the books are too wordy and long for my toddler, but this board book is short and sweet. It is the perfect Valentine book that teaches about true love (not chocolate and cards), but God’s love.

  1. God Gave Us Love by Lisa T. Bergren

I love the God Gave Us… series of books.  This is the perfect book choice to give for Valentine’s Day that will help point your little one to the bigger picture of this holiday all about love.  It shows different types of love and explains how we are ultimately showing His love everytime we show love to the people in our lives. This is a book that is great for the holiday, but also can stay on the shelf all year long!

  1. Let’s Play I Spy Valentine

This is a great interactive book with a Valentine’s Day theme that is also educational!  Amongst the hearts and red and pink hues, there are letters, counting, and colors. A perfect way to celebrate the day, while also working on early learning skills!

  1. Snuggle Puppy! by Sandra Boynton

Okay, so over the course of becoming a mom, I have grown to have a slight obsession for everything Sandra Boynton. Her books provide entertainment for both Hudson and myself. I am always blown away with the silliness, creativity, and thoughtfulness that is packed within just a few pages of a board book. One of these days, I am going to create a post with all of my very favorite Boynton books, but for now let’s talk about Snuggle Puppy! This is a sweet book for Valentine’s Day, but also a great one to keep in your night time story rotation all year long! It is a fun one to sing and the last page of course ends with a kiss!

  1. The Valentine Bears by Eve Bunting 

To me, the sign of a really excellent children’s book is one where the adult can also connect and be moved by the story.  This book is one of those books. It is a beautiful picture of marriage and a wife that still desires to make this little holiday a special day for her husband Mr. Bear.  Nothing says I love you quite like your husband’s favorite bowl of honey mixed with only the best dried up beetles. Right? I also love this book because even in Mrs. Bear’s best efforts, things don’t go quite as planned, and for this reason, it really strikes a cord.  They might be bears, but this story sure paints a lovely and genuine depiction of marriage.  

There you go! 10 lovely books that would make a great Valentine’s Day  gift for your kiddos and would all be excellent additions to your at-home library.  If you don’t feel like buying more books, take a visit to your library and see if they have any of these books or other Valentine/love books.  I always check out a bunch of holiday books to keep at our house for a few weeks and then return them! Then I know the ones Hudson really enjoyed and can buy those for our permanent collection.  

Do you have a favorite Valentine’s Day Book in your family? Let me know below!

5 Tips for Finding Routine as a Stay-at-Home Mom

I love structure, routines, and schedules. I love doing the same type of thing every week.  For some this might seem super boring, but for me, it is absolutely necessary.  I struggle with decisions. I am incredibly indecisive, so the fewer decisions I need to make within the week, the better.  There is something incredibly refreshing about establishing weekly rhythms in your life.  I believe these small patterns in our lives have the power to impact so much more than just how we choose to spend our days.  It impacts our attitudes, our characters, and ultimately our entire lives. So, if you ask me, this routine stuff is essential!

You might be reading this and thinking yes, I am all about schedules and routines too, but right now the season of life I am in makes consistent routines super difficult.  I get it! This is one of the many reasons I struggled so much early on when Hudson was born. I lost all sense of routine and control and if I am honest, it really had an affect on me in an emotional, spiritual, and physical way. I believe that even in a season with a bunch of little ones running about, you can develop a sense of routine.  And you should! Because it will not only help keep you more sane, it will allow for you to ultimately be more productive.  

daily routine for stay at home moms that will actually allow for rest, productivity, and quality family time.

So mama, if you are in a place where you want more steadiness in your life, but you don’t even know where to start, here are 5 simple things you can start doing today to get routines into your days. Just because you are a stay-at-home mom, that does not mean you cannot build in some of the structure and schedules you used to have in the pre-kids life.

green coffee mug for mom starting her morning routine

1. Wake Up Before the Kids

I have written a lot about my morning routine. You can read more about it, here. There are a few things I try to do every morning. The reality is that it is really hard to get the time to read my Bible, journal, and pray if I don’t get up at least 30 minutes before Hudson rises. I know this can be a real challenge, especially if you have really little ones that are not sleeping throughout the night. It can also be tough if your little ones are not consistently waking up at the same time. In particular seasons like that, allow for grace.

I would recommend setting a timer for you to get up at the same time every morning. Maybe for you right now, it is not realistic to wake up at 5 am. Try 6 am or 6:30 am. The reality is that you cannot control when the rest of the house is going to get up, but you can control when you get up. Consistently, waking up at the same time every morning is such an important rhythm that really sets the tone for the rest of the day. 

mom weekly cleaning routine

2. Set a Cleaning Task for Each Day of Week

As a stay-at-home mom, I put an excessive amount of pressure on myself to have the house in order. I know I am not alone in this. But here is the thing, solely taking care of a baby/multiple children is a full-time job in itself. There is not always time to have the baseboards shiny and the linen closet organized. Time and energy is limited. How can we have a relatively tidy house without feeling completely overwhelmed and burnt out?  Set small tasks for specific rooms of the house every week. Create a cleaning schedule that works best for you and stick to it.

Before you know it, you will be changing the bed sheets every Wednesday without even thinking about it. This is not a revolutionary concept, but having small cleaning tasks that are assigned for specific days of the week really helps me to not feel as overwhelmed. There are certain tasks like making the bed, emptying the dishwasher, sweeping and wiping down counters that happen on a daily basis, but here are the specific tasks I do for every day of the week, minus Sundays because those are for resting:

  • Monday: Frontload laundry (try to do as many loads as I can) + focused floor clean (baseboards on a bi-monthly basis)
  • Tuesday: Focused kitchen clean  
  • Wednesday: Change bed sheets + vacuum bedroom
  • Thursday: Change Hudson’s crib sheets + vacuum nursery
  • Friday: Focused bathroom clean 
  • Saturday: Mop floors, so floors feel nice and fresh going into our Sabbath (day of rest). Saturdays are often nice days for us as a couple to tackle any bigger projects, like a garage tidy or refrigerator clean. 
things to do with young children

3. Set an Activity with your Kids for Each Day of Week

Similarly, to the way I clean, I like to do similar types of activities for each day of the week. For this fall season, we are taking a couple mommy and me classes, so this built-in structure makes Monday and Tuesday activities already planned. Below is an example of a typical week activitiy schedule for us:

  • Monday: Mommy & Me hour length class + Trader Joe’s run post-nap 
  • Tuesday: Mommy & Me 2.5 hour length class + play in backyard post-nap
  • Wednesday: Trip to library + park before or after if time permits 
  • Thursday: Free Day! It really depends on the week, but I try to do something out of the normal routine with him on Thursdays.  This might mean hosting a fun playdate at our house, having lunch with a grandparent or attending a local kid’s event.  
  • Friday: Park, beach, or errands/appointments with mommy.  Our weekends are typically pretty full, so I try to keep Fridays more mellow.  

I have found that this rhythm of having an outing at the same time every day during the week is essential.  This time of the outing is going to likely change a lot as the nap schedule changes, but now that he is 16-months old, he has only one long afternoon nap.  This allows for a longer chunk of morning time to have an outing.  

One of the beautiful things that happen when we establish these park and library routines is that we are indirectly developing community.  You will find that other moms, nannies, and children also love routines. As a new mom where every day seems to be different, I have found a tremendous amount of comfort in seeing the same familiar faces every Wednesday at the library or every Thursday morning at the park. It reminds me I am not alone. It gives me a sense of connection that my days otherwise lack when I stay at home.

If you are feeling stuck with not knowing the best activities to do with your little ones that are home, here are a few suggestions that have helped me get out of the house:

Ways to Get Out the Door with Little Ones

  • Sign-up for classes! There are so many amazing baby and toddler classes offered by the city.  Signing up for classes is not only a great way to help with the development of your little one, but also a great way to build structure and routine into your unpredictable days of motherhood. 
  • Find your favorite local parks.  Not all parks are equal! Do some research (this might mean actually going to a handful of parks) and find the ones that you and your kids like the most.  And go out to them on a consistent basis.
  • Utilize your library! I cannot emphasize this one enough.  The library is one of the most untapped resources our cities offer.  Get to know the library staff. Grab their calendar of events and actually go to them.  The library we attend has great resources for both babies and parents.  
  • Make mom friends.  I am a part of a local MOMS Club and I am a big fan.  Joining this club over a year ago was one of the best decisions I made in those early months as a mom.  It has given me friends and has helped get me out of the door. Whether it is MOMS Club, MOPS, or any other local mom’s group, join something! Not only will this get fun events on your calendar, it will allow you to find community with other moms.
woman exercising in the early morning by herself as part of her routine

4. Exercise Consistently at Same Time 

I think people assume that for people that “love” running, it comes naturally for them to go out for a run.  Not true! At least not for me. Getting out the door, especially recently, has been such an internal battle. My whole mind and body often fights against it.  I know I am not alone in this.  

This is only further evidence of the importance of establishing exercise routines.  Without a consistent routine, it will simply not happen. You need to treat your times of exercise like important work meetings, even if it just a you.  Schedule the times you will run or go out to exercise and actually follow through.  You won’t always feel like it, but you will eventually hit your stride.

As I wrote about a few weeks ago, I am on a bit of an off-season for running, but I am trying to still exercise 6 days a week.  These days it is much less mileage and more group workout classes. This is what a typical week looks like for me currently: 

  • Monday: 6 mile run.  This is a really important run!  I am a huge believer of front-loading and starting your week with hard things.  This sets the precedence for the rest of the week. Last Monday, going out for a run was literally the last thing I wanted to do.  I felt pretty terrible and tired, but since this is part of my established routine, I did it. Even in those moments of not wanting to do something, I can think back to the past of how running on a Monday makes me feel, and from this, I am motivated to stick with it.  
  • Tuesday: 6:15 pm Yogaworks class.  For over the past month, I have been going to the same yoga class with the same teacher, Petra.  I used to pop from different classes with different teachers throughout the week, but for me personally, it is so important to go to the same classes every week.  This routine allows for me to start building a relationship with the teacher and build community with the other ladies that I see every Tuesday and Thursday.  I love how Petra knows me by name, chats with me, and compliments my yoga pants. This sense of belonging and community does not happen if you never consistently go to the same class or instructor.
  • Wednesday: 6 mile run
  • Thursday: 4 mile run + 6:15 pm Yogaworks class
  • Friday: 4-6 mile run (usually with Lance)  This is the end of the week run where I really listen to my body.  Last Friday, I felt terrible so it was just 4 miles. Two Fridays ago, I felt awesome so it was closer to 6.  It really depends. I am not super concerned about this particular run. I usually run this with Lance, so it is a nice run to connect with him and not need to push the jogger!
  • Saturday: Long run in Palos Verdes (right now this is usually around 10 miles) OR 7 am Yogaworks class with Petra
  • Sunday: OFF
woman preparing meal for dinner for her family

5. Start Dinner at the Same Time 

Set a time to start dinner and stick with this as much as you can.  For me, it is 4 pm. I know this is early, but we are early dinner people.  This rhythm of starting dinner at the same time is essential for us in our evening routine.  This allows us to eat at about the same time every night. This rhythm allows for a chunk of evening time that is not spent worrying about dinner prep and dirty dishes.

Like most of what I have written here, it is such a small choice, but this daily pattern of 4 pm dinner making allows things to get started when I often don’t feel like it.  This is usually the time where I am more tired from the day; however, this pattern I have set in our lives, allows me to grab the ingredients and turn on the oven at 4 pm without even really thinking about my feelings. Just another example of the importance of routine! 

Mama with the Crazy Child: You Are Not Alone!

This one is for you mama. 

The one who feels like she most certainly has the craziest, loudest, and messiest child in the world.  You are not alone. I am right there with you.

I know I cannot be alone in this feeling that my son seems to be the only one that is quite as loud or makes quite as much of a mess compared to all the other babies.  It is so easy to fall into this trap of comparison and feel like there must be something wrong with the way we are raising our kids. Here is the thing, sometimes children, especially really little ones, have bad days and it is NO indicator of how good or bad of a parent we are.  

In full transparency, Hudson and I have been having a rough past few days.  Like hitting other babies and throwing sippy cups off gondola rides rough. I can’t make this stuff up.  This is our life. Hudson is not even 16-months old yet and these past few days have felt like we are already in those terrible twos.

It is amazing how I can already see very large glimpses of the type of boy and man I can see him becoming.  And these glimpses are beautiful! I already can see that he is going to be incredibly passionate in whatever he chooses to pursue in his life. This makes me super excited for his future; however, this passionate personality feels a bit overwhelming right now. 

toddler boy with converse shoes standing by tree outside
Look closely! You can see some of the green paint remnants on right side of shirt.

The Green Paint Incident

Last Tuesday, we were at our mommy and me class when the teacher put out paint for the babies to use.  None of the other babies even went near the paint, except for my sweet Hudson. And let’s just say, there was green everywhere.  In his hair, on his shirt, on his shorts, on my shirt, and on my jacket. Then, he started running away with the green paint brush in hand and decided it was time to make other things turn green as well, like the soccer ball and the toy car.  So here I am, chasing this wild baby and wondering, why is he is the messiest and craziest one in this whole class?

The other babies seems to be neatly playing with the play-dough and water tank. They are not covered in green.  The thing with this mindset is that I am zeroing in on particularly tough moments and failing to remember the million, little sweet things he did on that very same day.  In that moment, Hudson was the messy, paint boy, but in the very next, it will be a different little one and I am guessing that mama or dad will feel just the way I did. Let’s give our kids and ourselves a little bit more grace. We all have our green paint kind of days. 

toddler boy waiting for the doctor at the doctor's office
Waiting for the doctor, post-poop everywhere…

The Poop Incident

The story does not end here.  Two days after the paint incident, there was the poop incident.  Hudson had his 15-month doctor appointment. As I took him out of his carseat and started walking up to Dr. Berman’s office, I felt something warm on my arm.  I also smelled something awful. Hudson pooped, but we are not just talking about a normal poop. Something went very wrong and this poop, like the green paint, was everywhere.  On the wall, on my shirt, on his shorts, and on his socks. For the entirety of his appointment, I smelled like poop.  I did not have a change of clothes for either one of us, so Hudson went home in a diaper and I went home in a poopy shirt. Again, here is a moment of feeling like I must be the most unprepared mother with a baby that has the craziest poops. All lies.

The Bus Incident

And the story continues.  On Monday, we went back to the San Diego Zoo. We went to the San Diego Zoo when we visited my sister about a month and a half ago. You can read about that first zoo visit here. This time we went with friends. These friends also have a baby that is a similar age to Hudson.  She is super calm and mellow. And this does not help my head case of feeling like Hudson is the craziest and messiest baby alive.  But here is the thing, they have such different personalities, I simply cannot compare. Hudson will never be the quiet one that can sit still and not say a word, and I am perfectly okay with this.  Again, I love how passionate he is about the world and all the little things in it; however, right now, it feels a tad overwhelming.

Hudson is obsessed with the animals.  It doesn’t matter what type, if it is moving and he sees it, he immediately signs “please” and wants to touch them.  He wants to be up close and personal. He wants to chat with them and see how they are doing. Again, I love this about him, but right now this manifests in him shrieking and screaming when the bus tour we are on drives away from said animal exhibit.  The amount of noises he made on that 40-minute bus ride was rather impressive. And again as I am bouncing him and exerting all the energy I can muster to get him to quiet down, that comparative voice again starts running in my head. I look around at all the quiet and calm babies sitting on their parents’ laps.  Why is my baby the loudest and most active on this whole bus?  

The Gondola Ride Incident

Then, there was the gondola ride, where he threw his sippy cup off the ride.  Thankfully, it landed on a building and it was just his green sippy cup. It could have been much worse; however, this was just another thing that added to my feelings of insecurity at this whole parenthood thing.  Why can’t I seem to control my child?

In between these moments on the bus and the gondola ride, there were also moments where he was super fun and independent.  In the Reptile Walk, he would run from glass exhibit to glass exhibit, with such excitement and enthusiasm. He would point at each animal, smile, and run to say hi to the next one.  These are the moments that I need to hold on to more. These are the times I should be asking: Do I have the cutest, most passionate baby in the whole wide world? Yes, yes I think I do.

Then, there was the dinner, after a long day at the zoo. This exhausted boy who was running and screaming all over the place at the zoo, was sensory overloaded by the time dinner hit.  As I write this, everything is beginning to make sense to me. The amount of energy he exerts throughout the day, often leads to him being a complete nightmare in restaurant settings. As his mom, I need to understand this better and make sure that after a full day I don’t push him beyond his limits. While the other baby could handle it, he is different and it was just too much for him.  

This sums up our past few days pretty well!

The Hitting Baby Incident

I will end with my final example.  This one happened yesterday at this week’s mommy and me class.  It involved a toy lemon and a plastic pan from the toy kitchen. I am not going to even sugar coat it, Hudson used this pan to hit another baby on the arm.  I could type up a bunch of excuses here, but I am owning it instead.

He hit her and he absolutely shouldn’t have; however, it was the reaction of the mom that again put me back in the spiraling head case I have been fighting for over a week. She simply said one word: “wow!”  With that one word and her telling her baby that they should head over to the kitchen, far away from this crazy child and his mother, I felt alone. This is really a story for another post, but as mothers, can we respond to situations in ways that create bridges, instead of further divide?

We Are in this Together

This is a lot of little stories to point to this one fact: we all have bad days, especially little ones, but don’t let the bad days take away from the good ones.  Don’t let the bad, misbehaved moments, take away from the really amazing ones. And this is especially for the mom that has a baby or child with a similar personality trait to sweet Hudson. 

Embrace this passionate side of your child. Yes, it may feel like he is the messiest, craziest, and loudest one on the whole bus, but he or she has a lot of good that they can offer. Learn to tame the wild and put all this energy and passion into good.  Ultimately, the point of all these very honest and raw stories are to be my open hand out to you. We are in this together. You are not alone, mama. If you think you have the craziest, loudest, messiest baby; come over and meet mine.

Alive in Your Calling

Have you ever had a day or a week where you were struck with a deep feeling in your bones that you were doing exactly what you were made to do? Trust me, I have a lot of days of doubt.  A lot of days where I question if the Lord wants more from me.  If he wants me to do this mothering thing, alongside a full-time career.  There are definitely moments, days, conversations that make me wonder. Amidst this doubt, I am occasionally hit with the unshakeable feeling that I am exactly where I am meant to be.

There was no big event that happened last week that woke me up to my calling, but it was the stringing along of ordinary moments, like singing at mommy and me class and hosting fun baby play dates at our house that made me realize: I was made for this.

Mother and baby at the beach
“What do you do for work?” This. This is what I do.

Oh, I Just Stay At Home

Being a stay-at-home mom is a tricky subject.  It is tricky because I am fully aware that it is a privilege.  Not everyone has a choice. I know there are plenty of mamas that would love to stay at home, but the extra income is a necessity.  Or, they are a single mama and their job is the sole income providing for their family.  Even as I type this, I sense myself holding back and overthinking the words to say.  I really don’t want to step on toes. The main point here is that I am fully aware that we all are living our own stories with our own sets of pressures.  I can only really write from where I currently am and that is at home. I feel thankful to be in a position that it is possible for me to stay at home. This is a big deal, and I do my best to not take it for granted. 

There is a lot of unspoken misunderstandings between the two camps: working mamas and at home mamas.  This makes me sad, but I think there is a lot of internal judgement and comparison. And I think it is absolutely felt on both sides.  Again, I can only speak from my perspective, but I feel pretty certain that working mamas struggle with not being able to have the same type of experiences or involvement as those that are at home. 

Baby and smiling mother outside
Thankful.

Own Your Story; No Need to Fabricate

On the flip side, SAHMs can feel like they are not doing enough. I have had countless conversations with people (all with good intent) that ask me when or if I plan on going back to work. I know it is unintentional, but this question often feels like a judgement.  It often feels like all the work I am doing within the home is somehow not enough. I have found myself in this past year making up stories of intentions of returning to work soon. I find myself telling them about how I had a few substitute teaching jobs last school year, as if they need to know that I am doing more than just staying home.

Especially when I talk to other working moms, I have felt this pressure to communicate my heart of eventually returning to my teaching job.  But here is the thing, I am not certain this is where I feel called. I really wish I could own my story better and not feel like I need to fabricate things to connect better to the woman I am speaking to.

Staying At Home IS a Full-Time Job!

Most people can acknowledge that staying at home with kids is a lot of work.  While I think a lot of people can recognize the tremendous amount of work and value that comes with being at home with your kiddos, I believe there is still a lot of underlying assumptions.  Since we don’t have a typical 9-5, people can easily assume that we are the perfect people to take on x, y, and z.

A stay-at-home mom works many job throughout the day. She’s a nurse, chauffeur, chef, teacher, playmate, housekeeper, laundry attendant, accountant, and babysitter all rolled into one.

What Does a Stay-At-Home Mom Do All Day, Apryl Duncan, VeryWellFamily

Again, I am writing this with hesitation because I don’t want to step on toes, but I think there is a lot of truth in this.  And it is not a bad thing per se. I feel happy to be in a more flexible position that I can do some extra things I probably would not have been able to do if I was still working outside of the home. The problem is when people assume that we must have the time.  This is where I think there is confusion. In a lot of ways, I feel busier than when I was teaching. I feel more on for my one, little toddler, than I did for 100 something students. 

I Should…

A lot of the things that I let slip when I was working, I have fully taken on.  When the floors are messy, I feel a lot of responsibility and guilt for not being on it.  Since my work is within the home, I feel so guilty when the house feels like a chaotic mess.  This is my one job! I should have spotless floors, a fridge fully stocked, and gourmet meals on the table every night.  I should be doing all the extra things. I should be on the board of my MOMS Club. I should be the one volunteering to be in charge of the email list for our year-long mommy and me class.  I should have a foot in every single ministry at church. I should be reaching out to friends more often and sending them letters of encouragement. I should do more for my husband, I mean he is the one fully providing for us.  I should, I should, I should.  

Mother kissing baby at the top of Inspiration Point hike at Will Rogers State Park
These baby days already feel like they are drifting away!

Sweet Daughter,

Man, typing up the above actually made me really sad.  It made me sad because all those things are truly weighing on my heart.  Being a SAHM often feels like it is not enough for the world around me and if I’m honest, sometimes I get caught up in believing this lie.  But here is the truth the Lord reminded me this week: it is enough and I am exactly where He wants me. 

Back to my original question that started off this post: Are you ever struck with a deep sense that you are exactly where you were meant to be?  This past week, I felt like I was living out my calling. It was not glamorous and it did not involve fancy meetings or important conferences. Instead, it involved lots of “the wheels on the bus go round and round.”  I sang a lot of songs last week with Hudson and I read a lot of the same book over and over and I made lots of snacks. And in this place of singing, reading, and making, I felt alive in my calling. I felt the Lord whispering to me all week: Sweet daughter, you are right where I want you.


Find Beauty in the Ordinary & Have a Great Weekend!

After especially busy seasons, slow weekends are best friends.  This past weekend was similarly sweet and mellow like the past weekend I wrote about. I want to put this into words so I don’t forget. I am feeling just so thankful right now.  Life feels simple and peaceful and quiet, and I know this won’t last forever, but I am really loving this particular season of life.

Hudson is at a stage that I am absolutely adoring.  If you have read even just a handful of my past posts, you should have the idea that the newborn stage was a struggle to say the least for me. I feel much more comfortable in this stage of making snacks, taking him to mommy and me classes, and chasing him about the house. I was unprepared for the very early stages. Not to say that that time is not precious and sweet and special, but I am really loving this toddler season.

Toddler boy wearing Hurley T-shirt with leather sandals at the park
There are those adorable leather sandals that he sported the next day at the…park!

The Leather Sandal Incident

Just yesterday, Hudson came up to me holding a pair of sandals he has yet to wear.  These sandals gathered dust because I assumed they were still too big for his little feet. Yesterday, he decided he was ready for them. He showed me them and tapped his foot with them.  Such a simple thing, but this moment struck me. I thought it was one of the most darling things.  He has desires and grand ideas, like wearing his cool leather sandals in the house just because. I love watching his brain churn.  I love watching his little quirks develop. And I love the fact that he can communicate with me.

Along with the sandal tapping, Hudson has been signing “please,” “more,” and “all done.”  I can now tell him, “say please” or “how do we ask for something we want?”. Hudson greets me with a smile and a hand over his chest. This melts my heart in a certain type of way. I love that he can ask politely for things without even a word.  I love that he can tell us when he is all done and ready to get out of his high chair. This early stage of communication is a lot of fun and I eagerly await for the words to begin to flow. So far the vocabulary looks something like this: “mom,” (which is always said in association with something he wants) “dada,” (which is usually said when he is happy and having fun) “ba” = ball, “na”=Nala, our dog.

Journal to Find Beauty in the Ordinary

I have become obsessed with a journaling concept I recently heard about on Emily P. Freeman’s podcast “The Next Right Thing.”  I am linking to that particular episode here. She talks about how when she is feeling overwhelmed with the demands of everyday life, she grounds herself by writing down lists called “These Are The Days Of.”  Under this title she lists the things that are currently happening in her life. This is such a simple, little exercise, but I think it is genius. It is genius in the sense that it gives us space to actually name what is going on in our life.

It is amazing how the most beautiful, yet ordinary things of our days so easily slip by us if we don’t take the time to intentionally jot it down.  This scares me! I don’t want to forget the beautifully ordinary elements of my days. This is why writing is such an important part of my days. It is why I journal in the mornings and persist in keeping up this little blog. Your perspective, your story, the ordinary elements of your day are sacred.  They are strung together by the greatest storyteller of all time, the Lord, and He wants us to share it. He wants us to tell about the seemingly ordinary, yet holy, beautiful, and sacred aspects of our days. So, I am sharing. I am logging them down for you to read because I believe it is important, no matter how small.

These Are The Days Of…

  1. Beach days
  2. Chasing Hudson as he runs toward the ocean, completely fearless
  3. Baby friends and mom friends
  4. The park 
  5. Homestate lunch dates with daddy 
  6. Farmer’s Markets
  7. Cinnamon rolls on Sundays
  8. 15-months 
  9. Planting plumeria in a blue planter
  10. Water diapers and sprinklers in the backyard
  11. Watching the grass grow, literally 
  12. Trying new things 
  13. Finding confidence in motherhood
  14. Fighting hard against comparison, daily
  15. Wondering if Hudson will be the crazy, misbehaved one in school
  16. Also wondering, if he will be drafted to the MLB before college; he has an arm!
  17. Leather sandals
  18. The park, again
  19. Capturing milestones with signs
  20. Registering for The Boston Marathon!
  21. Checking out 11 library books 

Poetic, right?  I love this exercise because it gets me to literally just list out what is going on in my life.  When I read that list back, I am amazed by the beauty in it. This is just our life right now. This is literally what is going on.  And if I am honest, most days, I don’t stop to let the beauty of it all sink in. Instead I spend a lot of time wondering if I am doing enough, as I mindlessly clean the baseboards and compare my mom life to the lives of the busy, important friends I see all around me.  I need to stop. I need to make my “These Are The Days Of…” list. I need to give space to the abundant blessings in my life, even though there are days where I feel pretty small and unimportant.

Toddler boy play with water sprinklers in the backyard
These are the days of backyard sprinklers & water diapers.

Your Story Matters- Own It!

This post is a little all over the place, but this is just what is on my heart, currently. I hope you can find encouragement in it.  I hope you can remember that your ordinary days of the park, library, and sprinklers in the backyard matter. It is easy to get lost in the stacks of laundry, sticky floors, and that feeling that you are always at a park.  It is easy to forget these ordinary days of correcting, feeding, cleaning, creating, and loving are in fact poetry. If you are overwhelmed and exhausted, do me a favor. Take 5 minutes. Write down the ordinary elements of yours days. Then, read it slowly and thoughtfully back to yourself. Let it set in. Let the ordinary moments hold space in your heart and let gratitude take over.

Each of our lists are likely going to vary quite a bit, but this variance does not change our status as moms or wives or sisters.  The Lord has a unique list and story mapped out for us, it might not look like the mom who is seemingly doing it all, but it is ours.  Let’s own it, more.