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 

The Perfect Quarantine Weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Slow Start

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

2. Doughnuts  

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

3. Fresh Air 

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

4. Family  

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

5. Takeout

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

6. Play

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

7. Water

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

8. Creativity

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

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

9. Books

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

10. More Sunshine

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

11. Banana Bread

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

12. A little Netflix

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

13. Unplug 

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

14. Spontaneous Drives 

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

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

12 Things to Do at Home with an Active Toddler

I know we each are affected by the coronavirus in very different ways.  Some in life-changing types of ways, and others in smaller disappointments.  I know there is this temptation to down-play our own feelings right now, with the preface of with everything going on, it feels silly to… or I know others have it a lot worse, but… 

I know that temptation well because I have most certainly felt it in the past couple weeks.  It feels silly to complain about a postponed marathon, when others are losing jobs, weddings, graduations.  It feels silly to complain about not getting to play at the park when we have a cozy house full of toys to play with. It feels silly to feel the pressure of keeping up with all the other moms that appear on social media to be handling it so much better than you. 

All of it can feel silly, especially in the face of death and unemployment.  But, it is your feelings and your situation, and it is okay to feel real sadness, disappointment, and anxiety over things that may feel small in comparison with everything else that is going on.  It is okay to own our struggles, even if they may be small.

With that said, in the past couple weeks my emotions have been all over the map.  I have felt a whole lot of disappointment. Disappointment over the marathon.  Disappointment in not being able to attend church in person. Disappointment over not being able to go that basketball game or have that couple over for dinner or attend that birthday party.

Then, I went from disappointment to determination.  Last week, especially, I was determined to make the best of these situations.  This means keeping my whole routine as normal as possible. These choices have helped the initial disappointment to fade, but it also has created some unrealistic expectations. 

The fact of the matter is that we are living in a global pandemic. This is new territory for all of us. It is new, weird, strange, scary, confusing, and uncertain. While I still stand on the fact that it is important to keep things as normal as possible and still goal-set and look ahead to the future, I am learning I need to add room for grace.  

To give you an idea of how my brain works… 

Circumstance: Race postponed.

Response: Keep training hard and run a sub-80 minute virtual half-marathon.

Circumstance: All classes, parks, museums, and stores closed.

Response: Be the best Pinterest-worthy mom.  Do ALL the sensory bin activities. Do a craft every day.  Read ALL the books on the shelves. Create fun learning experiences.  Avoid screens at all costs.

Circumstance: All restaurants are closed, except for takeout.

Response: Bake and cook gourmet recipes for every meal.  

Circumstance: Quarantined.

Response: I must learn to knit, organize every cabinet/drawer in the house, and finally finish Hudson’s baby scrapbook.  

Get the picture? 

Not a whole lot of room for grace.  This is new. This is weird. I am doing my best and God will fill all of the holes.  He always does. I don’t need to put added pressure on myself to be super-mom, super-wife, super-human. This pandemic alone is pressure enough.

Before getting into ideas to keep an active toddler busy at home (I promise, we are still heading in that direction), I wanted to preface it with the fact that I too am struggling and feel this weird sense of pressure to do all the things. I am learning daily that the mundane elements of our day: taking a bath, watering the grass, calling a grandparent are enough. We don’t need to get crazy.

We Are Still…

We are still good runners during a pandemic if our mileage suddenly drops drastically.

We are still good moms during a pandemic if we do not always have a scheduled craft for the day.

We are still good wives during a pandemic if we become a bit more reliant on frozen pizzas than we did pre-pandemic.

We are still good productive humans during a pandemic if we have not acquired a new skill and the junk drawer is still full of junk.  

Let God’s grace enter.  You don’t need to be all the things or do all the things or learn all the things.  Keep it simple. Keep folding the laundry, washing the dishes, reading bedtime stories, running, and cooking.  In other words, keep doing the normal life stuff you would do all the time, no need to add the pressure to become a gourmet chef, a Pinterest-perfect mother, or super fit.  

With all that said, here are some very simple things I am doing with my very, active, almost-2-year old that is keeping us both sane and happy, mostly.

1. Keep a routine

Keep waking up at similar times, keep changing out of pajamas, keep snacks, lunches, and dinners at normal times.

2. Walk/Run Outside 

Take the jogger out for a short run or walk around the block.  The days we go out for a morning run always seem better because it really breaks up the day.  We have been calling our runs around our neighborhood, “dinosaur runs” because we stop by a nursery with giant, metallic dinosaurs and Hudson gets to roar at them. It is the small things!

Also, the sunshine and fresh air does a whole lot of good for the both of us. If you’re new to the baby jogger, I have some tips on running with the stroller, you can find here.

3. Take Long Baths 

We now take baths in the morning and the evening.  If Hudson is acting crazy, the bath is always a sure way to calm him down and get some sensory play as he plays with the bubbles and his bath toys.  Typically, we will take a quick shower and rush out the door to our scheduled outing. It has actually been a real joy to embrace these slower, bubble bath type of mornings.  If you are looking for more bath activities, here are some of my favorite products that always make bath time more fun:

4. Chores Around the House 

There is always a chunk of our day scheduled for getting things done around the house.  I try to always incorporate Hudson. Sometimes he just watches me or wanders off to play independently in the playroom, but sometimes he grabs the broom or his pretend lawn mower and goes around the house “working.”  This is a win-win because I get things done around the house, while he imagines and helps me through play.

5. Bounce House

Set up something fun in your living room or playroom that is typically not up.  It could be a tent, a fort, a ball pit, or a bounce house.  We have this bounce house.  It is not very big, but it already has been a well-worth it investment.  As a family, we seem to always end up hanging out in the bounce house after dinner.  In these scary and uncertain times, I feel pretty certain I will look back to our evenings spent in the bounce house with great fondness. There has been a whole lot of laughter happening in that little house- Nala (our 80 lb. golden) even joins and things get real crazy.

6. Songs + Dance 

We usually break out the Greg & Steve tunes midmorning.  This is a fun way to transition between activities and is a great way to burn off some extra energy before nap time.  Here are a few songs, that are especially great for dancing with your toddlers:

7. Leave Things Out 

Here’s the honest truth, our house currently is chaos.  And this is entirely intentional. Part of it is laziness, but part of it is strategic.  There are TONS of invitations to play all over our house for Hudson. He can jump in his bounce house, he can color on his chalk board, he can pretend play with his trains, he can practice his baseball swing on his tee.  I am simply leaving things out all over to invite him to play. This creates a very messy house, but it is not like we are having guests over anytime soon and it takes the pressure off of me to constantly entertain.

8. FaceTime Family/Friends

This has been a great way for him to still have social interactions and see the people he loves most!  We have been doing this almost daily. It has been the perfect way for both of us to feel more connected. Not to mention, great for him to practice names.

9. Make Cards

So far, we have made 2 birthday cards and one thank-you card to our amazing pool man.  This is an easy “art project” and Hudson is at the age where he LOVES giving things to people he cares about.  We don’t have a ton of art supplies, so I have kept it really simple with crayons and card stock. For auntie’s birthday card, we even broke out the water colors.  I am not very creative or artsy, so making cards is a great way to incorporate some art + also teach Hudson the importance of appreciating those we care and love for.  

10. Scooter 

Self-explanatory. Lots of indoor and outdoor scootering happening over here.  

11. Mud Play

I will be honest, I have been on Pinterest more than ever recently.  And it gets pretty overwhelming. I am all about simple activities with few supplies and ingredients needed.  When I saw this mud play recipe, I knew it was perfect.  You just combine water, flour, and cocoa powder.  And there you go, the best smelling mud ever. It was perfect for creating dinosaur and truck tracks on paper.  

12. Window Clings 

If you are able to make a quick trip to the dollar store, they have really cute Easter window clings.  This was very entertaining for Hudson.  He especially likes the gel clings, which I am not crazy about because it attracts dog hair and H always ends up ripping them.  But it is just $1 and entertains him, so still worth it in my book. The day we brought them out, he kept going back to the window to rearrange the bunny and the chick. 

Okay, I am going to stop here. This is becoming too long.  Here is the bottomline: use this time wisely. Soak it in and appreciate it for what it is.  Sit in the quiet, the slow, the mundane. Don’t feel like you need to do all things.  Keep it simple. Invite your little ones along in your ordinary days and take lots and lots of bubble baths.