Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Short Story

I married an entrepreneur. I knew this going into our marriage. He happened to be in an upcycle when we met – his business was growing, he was moving and shaking, the business grew – it was sold – money was abundant.

There came a period of introspection. Learning. Trying something different. It was good – but it didn’t feed his soul. Sprinkled in there were little comments that we were living outside of our means. It didn’t click until I saw that his stress levels were going up the longer he financed our lifestyle.

A little sub-text in the story was the unbelievable election cycle in 2016. I had this nagging feeling we had to cut everything loose just in case we wanted to be free to go anywhere in the world. I knew it would be hard to walk away from our comfortable home if we had a mortgage on it.

Then one night,  I told him the craziest thing I never imagined saying: Let’s sell it all. Let’s get rid of all the burden so you can create again.

Even though it killed me to say it, and it took me a long time to get there, I said it. I meant it…I know that the creative spirit is bound by temporal things, and I couldn’t stand to see my husband unhappy.  I couldn’t imagine how to invest in a start-up while having to contend with all our bills. We sold our vacation home in the Rim Country, we sold our beautiful home in the metro area, we cut back on all the extras that were a luxury. Thankfully, we were still able to provide all the extra-curricular activities for our beloved Sweet Pea Kids.

As the Master Planner would have it, there was a job offer for a start-up in Boston that came along around that time – selling everything made sense. Then that offer didn’t come through as we had hoped, however we were still in a place of having the flexibility to do whatever we wanted to do for our family. There was serious talk about moving overseas after the election results. I was tying up loose ends, continuing the purge process, and researching different places we might want to travel with the children.

Then a new door opened.

“Whatever” came along about a month after my husband walked away from the Boston opportunity.  After he did a few months of business consulting, we are “all in”. There have been months of travel to a different city. Single-mom status during the week. Quick hellos between the crazy weekend schedule we keep. Slowly finding ways for him to be home more and travel less as the company moves it’s home-base to Phoenix.

We have also learned to appreciate abundance in all things – our good health, our loving family, making joyful memories, the time when all six of us enjoy a meal at the dining room table without having to be anywhere else.

And we are happy. We listened to the still, small voice that was telling us to let go and trust God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind.  I am glad we listened. I can’t wait to see where we go next.

Here are some quotes that remind us why we embrace the entrepreneur lifestyle. And to borrow a line from baseball, “Don’t get too high, don’t get too low”.

Image credit ~
Penny Chenery Quote:
Secretariat Image:

Parenting Forward


I recently met with a student who was having a hard time reconciling her mother’s instinct with the pressures from family and friends to parent in a more socially acceptable way.  We had a long, heartfelt talk, and here are some of the “heart-lights” we had that I want to share with you.

If nothing else, remember that you alone are responsible for your child.  You have to live with them, you alone will bear the joy and the guilt of all your decisions. Acknowledging and accepting that, know that trusting your instinct is right and worthy.

Parenting with the end goal in mind looks different than parenting decisions made for immediate behavior modification.  Yelling when it’s not an emergency, hitting, slapping, intimidation, etc., will probably get your child to stop doing what they are doing or get them to do what you want them to do against their will. Taking the time to think about why you are seeing this behavior, asking ourselves if there is a way to change their focus or solve a problem takes time…and if your child is having a full-blown public nuclear meltdown, it may activate our own issues with “being a good/bad parent” or attracting attention, or our stories about acceptance and rejection.

It can be so hard to parent what I call the “long way” when your child is acting out. It is much easier to bargain, bribe, or force the outcome that is easiest in the short term.  Going the long way means letting them cry or tantrum in public, taking the time to ask questions and listen to your child, try to figure out exactly what they need or find a solution, and then patiently see it through so that interactions are loving and peaceful. It may mean changing our plans and trying again another day.

Speaking specifically to the times when our children get loud, the goal of parent intervention is to stop the tears or the tantrum.  We have stories deeply ingrained in our culture about parents who can’t control their children, and therein lies one of the problems. It is a mindful decision to treat them as little humans with their own set of feelings and desires, instead of chattel to control or do our will.

In my mind, the first thing we can examine as a culture is this idea of needing to control children.  Why not start with changing the paradigm? Instead of “children that behave” why not shift the focus to “adults that can make decisions”? It means acknowledging that children are human beings that are going to need to learn to navigate life, with all its ups and downs.

When we start to parent with the idea that our children need to be equipped to be whole, loving, and capable humans when they leave our home, it may drastically change the reasons why we chose to do or not to do when the time comes to teach them the lessons that come with the situations that challenge them.  With that mind, it gives us permission to parent them per what we feel is best for them. Each child is ready for different milestones at different times.

Here are some of the different areas of disagreement with heart-led parenting versus socially-based parenting that came up in our discussion.

Some children are ready to sleep on their own before they are a year old, other children need the warmth and comfort of a parent or sibling into early childhood or the elementary years. Would it help you to know that in other cultures, they consider our practice of tucking children in to sleep by themselves is considered neglectful and sad for the child? Read THIS article or THIS article by Dr. James McKenna on The Natural Child Project site, and THIS one on (warning: the title is a bit abrasive).

Oh the places you could go with this topic.  Here is the information on the side of extended breastfeeding if that is your choice…

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children are breastfed at least until 6 months old, and to continue breastfeeding after that point – link HERE.

Drs. Melissa Bartick and Arnold Reinhold published a STUDY in March 2010 with these findings: If 90% of new mothers in the USA were breastfed just to the six-month mark, it would save $13 billion in healthcare and other costs – read more about that HERE

The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until a child is two years old…really!! Read their statement HERE

So there are three huge pros in your corner if you want to breastfeed, and continue past the 12-month “normal”.  I hope you are encouraged to follow your own rhythm when it comes to breastfeeding your Sweet Pea.

This is the age of mindful eating. We know there are inflammatory foods (list HERE), we know the benefits of probiotics (links HERE and HERE), we know that when offered healthy food,  children will eat it (read THIS fascinating study).  It is okay to trust that if you consistently put healthy choices in front of your child, they will not starve, and they will eat healthy food.

So what if you don’t eat out at fast food restaurants, or it takes you five minutes to place your child’s order at a restaurant? You alone are your child’s advocate until they know what is good for them and know how to place their own order.  And you will be so proud of seeing their healthy food choices and their awesome physical health when you see how they compare to their peers.  They will spend more time in the classroom and less time in the doctor’s office when they eat healthy, whole food.  It is worth it!!

Behavior modification:
Another loaded discussion.  I would invite you to trust your mama bear instinct here.  Also, try to address your own hang-ups about being a “good” parent and/or giving and receiving love.

This came roaring to a head for us when Otter was three years old.  She went through this phase of hitting me when she was angry…and one day when I was tired and worn down and I couldn’t believe what came out of my mouth, “When you hit me, it makes me feel like you don’t love me.”  That came from a deep and old place, a story that I had from my past. It validated why I do not want to hit our children, and made me even more dedicated to the theory of “gentle parenting”.

Here are some of my favorite parenting resources for you to explore:

Laura Markham – aha! parenting – gentle parenting resource

Janet Lansbury – gentle parenting resource

L.R. Knost – Little Hearts – gentle parenting resource

Positive Discipline – great ideas to help set boundaries and keep them without intimidation

Five Love Languages – discover what moves your family members, and then love them the way that speaks to their heart


What are your thoughts?  What are other areas you feel heart-led about and you find hard to talk about or outright disagreements with your family or friends?


Breastfeeding Beyond the Fifth


Otter and I in 2015 – she is three years old in this picture. Image: Erin Rudd Photography

I have been going back and forth on whether or not I wanted to share this part of our breastfeeding journey most of the summer.  It is hard to talk about breastfeeding beyond the first year in our US culture, let alone past the second birthday and beyond.

Otter and I have been nursing since her birth-day in October 2011. So that is now 5 years and 10 months…and we are still going.  She tells me that we are going to be nursing until she turns seven.  I am not so sure about that. She just lost her first baby tooth, and in my mind we were going to go until this point in her development.  Most mammals nurse their young until they lose their milk teeth, otherwise known as baby teeth in humans.

Did I ever imagine I would breastfeed a child this long?

Absolutely not! Never in my wildest imaginations did I ever think it was even possible. When I heard that people nursed into a child’s seventh year, I thought NOT ME. It’s crazy, it’s gross, it’s weird…yes, I thought all those things, too.

How did we get here?

Puma and I nursed until she was 22 months old.  She weaned on her own, it was an easy process.  We cut out one feeding at a time when she was around 18 months old. I happened to get pregnant around that time and she didn’t like the way the milk was tasting anyway.  After our miscarriage, she carried on as before, nursing 2-3 times a day. Then one night, she said she wanted to go to sleep without nursing, and that was it.  A couple of weeks later, she asked to nurse again; I said no because I assumed all the milk was gone.  Come to find out, it’s possible I may have made milk for her.  As they say, hindsight is always 20/20.

Night Owl nursed until he was around 18 months old. I stopped nursing him when I got pregnant with Charger. I tried to keep nursing through the pregnancy. My OB did not support that choice, and since we had already had a miscarriage, I didn’t want to take any chances with having more contractions. I was feeling them pretty much every time we nursed…so wean we did. It broke my heart – I knew he could use the boost of extra antibodies through the winter months, and I felt like I had to choose between breastfeeding and pregnancy.

Along came Charger…he was almost two years old and still nursing when I got pregnant with Otter.  I assumed he would naturally lose interest as Puma had when the flavor of the milk changed as my pregnancy progressed. I was wrong.  I could tell he wasn’t ready to wean – I tried all the things that had worked when I weaned Night Owl: replace the sessions with play time, or other food, or snuggle time.  He would take those options, and then insist on nursing after we had finished whatever we were doing to distract him.

I was definitely having contractions when we nursed again. Two years after our first experience of trying to nurse through a pregnancy, I had met people who had been able to and not miscarry. (Thank you, La Leche League!) This time around, armed with more knowledge, I made up a mantra that I would repeat as I started nursing to remind my body that the oxytocin I was making was for nursing, not for labor. Thankfully, it worked and the cramping during nursing sessions subsided.

He was still nursing when my milk changed to colostrum.  I could tell because all of a sudden he was having newborn-like diapers. YUCK when you are pregnant and you are changing toddler amounts of seedy, yellow, mushy poops.

He did tell me once that the milk tasted salty. I asked him if he was ready to stop then, and he just said, “No,” and kept on nursing.  Then came the mad scramble on my end – how was I going to feed two children at the same time? (set boundaries and expectations) Will there be enough milk for both children? (YES) Clearly the milk was adjusting to feed the newborn…would he still want the milk after the baby was born? (YES)

Thankfully, my wonderful La Leche League leaders helped me prepare and navigate tandem nursing. One of the leaders who had tandem nursed prepared me that the milk for the baby was going to be very creamy and full of fat again, and that most older nurslings LOVE to nurse again after the newborn milk comes in. This helped me set the boundaries and expectations that worked for us…after he ignored me for two days after his sister was born, he was right back to nursing without any hesitation.

We made some great memories as a tandem nursing family – as the sweet peas got older, they had quite the time telling each other when it was each other’s turn, and sometimes they made “reservations” to nurse on a particular “side”.  Hilarious. They usually took turns – I wasn’t crazy about having them nurse at the same time. We do have some Kodak moments captured of the few times they did happen to nurse together – for that I am grateful. Any way you look at it, I now understand the term “bosom friends” in a different light. Those two children remain close to this day.

Charger ended up nursing through his fifth birthday. At that time, I felt confident that I had honored his desire to nurse. He still wanted to keep going, however, he accepted that his fifth birthday was the time to end this part of our journey. I sure did miss the added immunity boost he got from breastfeeding. He was more sick that winter than he had ever been before.  The first time he got sick, I actually did nurse him and he recovered pretty quickly. It seems like there might have been an emotional component to healing without breastfeeding. Once we reminded him that he had a very strong immune system thanks to the years of breastfeeding, he seemed to stop getting sick so often. To this day he continues to make a quicker recovery when he is sick.

If you are doing the math, Otter was almost three years old when he weaned. She was kind of happy at first – both breasts all to herself…and then she was sad when she realized she and Charger were really not going to share in breastfeeding anymore.

Two things influenced my decision to allow Otter to self-wean. After seeing the remorse Charger had at being “forced” to wean at five, I did not want to make her have an end date. I also got to see a presentation by Dr. Nils Bergman in which he taught the biology of breastfeeding across mammals. He is the one who pointed out that the majority of mammals nurse their young until they loose their milk teeth, aka “baby teeth”.  LIGHTBULB. Okay, so now I really understood that nursing a human child until their the sixth or seventh birthday made sense from an evolutionary biological level.

Is nursing an older child like nursing a newborn or a toddler? 

Not in our case. Newborns nurse around the clock.  Around 6-8 months of age, most human children develop an interest in eating what is known as “solid food”. At that point, they breastfeed first, then try the solid food, and top off with breastfeeding to make sure they have gotten enough nutrients for that meal. We never stressed about what our children ate. We love that mantra that comes from the baby-led weaning crowd, “Food before one is just for fun.”

Around the first birthday, we would naturally lose a breastfeeding session as our children went from two naps a day to one. Then you drop some sessions around meal times as they become better eaters. As they start to move more and become toddlers, the interest decreases again. Our toddlers (18+ months) would nurse upon waking in the morning and before bedtime; anything in between was incidental: tired, overstimulated, injured, etc.

Somewhere between the second and third birthday, we told the sweet peas that they could only nurse at home. I was always willing to honor our children’s need/desire to breastfeed, however I was not willing to push social norms outside our home.

We kept to this morning/evening pattern until Charger and Otter were four years old.  At four, they had to choose: nurse upon waking or nurse at bedtime. At this point, any nursing during the day was as a last resort because all other comfort methods had failed.

I noticed that Otter’s pattern changed when she was 5.5 years old. She would go 2-3 days without nursing, and then ask again. I will always tell her, you can try and see what happens.  So far, she has always gotten milk.  How long will this last? I have no idea.

Why would anyone breastfeed this long?

For us, the benefits far outweigh being an outlier on the social norms scale.  The ones we have enjoyed are the bond between mother and child, the seemingly endless enjoyment of food and willingness to eat a large variety of flavors, and the immunity boost that lasts throughout the breastfeeding relationship (and beyond in Charger’s case).

I love this image from The Alpha Parent that outlines the many benefits of breastfeeding into the toddler years:

Little boy (2-3) with bare chest, arms up, portrait


What does my husband think?

He supports this choice. There is no way we would have breastfed Charger as long as he was, or continue breastfeeding Otter this long, without his support. It meant he had to be mature enough not to feel jealous of the children, which he always has been, thank God. In addition, he very readily accepted that my breasts were not “his” or the children’s.  They were MY breasts, and they could be used to feed our children, and still be sexy when we had our time together.

Is the choice right for every family? My guess is probably not, even though it would be lovely if more children were fed until at least the second birthday if circumstances allowed. If it is something you are mulling around and you would like more information,  I would be happy to help if I can.  Please leave me a comment and I will do my best to answer any questions you might have.

Other blog posts I have written about our extended breastfeeding journey:

Our Journey Into Tandem Nursing May 2012 intro about our chosen path

Still Tandem Nursing August 2012 update

Tandem Nursing – Extended  July 2013 update

My Take on Toddler Nursing – Today August 2013 photojournal of “gymnurstics”…thank goodness that was only a phase!

Breastfeeding a Toddler  August 2015 Otter was four years old and my only nursling at this point

Nursing By Example: The power of peer-to-peer support

Nursing a Toddler: Benefits, and why it’s good to follow your instincts and your children’s cues

Extended Breastfeeding: the science behind why it’s beneficial

Breastfeeding & Tandem Nursing: Encouraging parents to follow the right path for their family



Preschool Playdate: Fall Fun

THEME: First day of Fall
Play date: September 22, 2016


— Welcome song in English (emphasizes printed name recognition as Sweet Peas find their card in a line-up and place it on our Name Ledge)
— Welcome song in Spanish (reinforces names as Sweet Peas sing to their peers)
— Discussion of theme
— Storytime
— Unsquiggle activity
— Poem/Song before we break for Centers


This is a treasure from a Scholastic book box I purchased early in our homeschool days.  I like this book because each page has a bold call out that can be read as an easy reader, and in regular font there is more detail for the child that is ready to read/learn more about the topic.


Letters:  F-A-L-L and A-U-T-U-M-N

Lots of opportunity for play and learning today:
Level 1: Talk about uppercase and lowercase letters. Have the child find the letter cards that match the words.

Level 2: Scramble the letters for one word and have the child line them up with the corresponding card.

Level 3: Scramble the letters for 2-3 of the words and have the child line them up with the corresponding cards.



Magnet Leaves – Fishing for pairs 1-6

I was inspired to create this center by the magnet lessons I have been doing with Otter and Charger. They love “fishing” with their magnet fishing poles.  So I took some of our fabric leaves that could withstand the wear and tear of continual use and paired them with a number. I try to incorporate print as much as I can when we do centers, so aside from the number I also wrote the name of the number on the circle. One set is in English, the other is in Spanish.

With more time and/or if you have the storage space, you could make more pieces and some game boards that have a leaf outline on them and numbered leaves. Instead of lining them up in a row, they could be matched to the corresponding spot on a game board.


The other activity we did was half discovery, half math.  We hid ten “acorns” in the leaves.  Then we gave the children rakes to dig through and find as many acorns as they could find. They got to count the acorns and then hide them again for the next sweet pea.


Leaf rubbing

We used the age-old and oft enjoyed crayon rubbing art idea to explore leaves. First you get the sensory experience of rubbing: it has a feel and a sound to it.  Then there is the magical aspect of creating art that “magically” appears.

What I noticed yesterday and pointed out to the older children was the difference between our desert plant leaves and those that are pictured in most books about leaves.  Our water-deprived desert leaves and small and/or long and thin, and many are spiky. Looking at the picture books that feature trees of the more temperate forest climates, we can see that those leaves are bigger and come in many more varieties. They could make the connection that the more water is available, the larger the leaf size.

Another reason I like this as a discovery table for toddlers is that once the papers are finished, we can look and talk about similarities and differences using their art instead of the more fragile leaves.


ARTS & CRAFTS ~ Make & Take
Leaf necklace idea is from Kiwi Crate

One of the things I love about doing crafts with young children is that it provides an opportunity for organic learning. “How many leaves do you want in your necklace?” ” Can you count out “x” number of leaves?” “What color bead is going to be first?” “Which color would you like next?”

All this on top of the fact that you are working to improve their motor skills and hand-eye coordination, as well as inviting them to use their imagination. The different textures of the materials also help stimulate their senses…no wonder this is one of my favorite stations to pull together each week.


We finish our Preschool Playdate with a sharing time: each child that wants to share gets to say what (s)he enjoyed the most about the morning.  We close with a good-bye song where children are welcome to give hugs.  It helps to set a formal end to the time together so that parents have a clear reason to insist that it’s time to go if they have somewhere to be afterwards


Monday Musings: Struggles

“Successful mothers are not the ones that have never struggled. They are the ones that never gave up despite the struggles.”
~Sharon Jaynes

This quote takes on a whole new meaning today as I think of all the mothers who will go forward without their sons and daughters after the tragedy in Orlando. There are not enough words to express our deep sorrow.

In today’s image-driven society, it is easy to set ourselves an impossible standard portrayed by filtered pictures that show the best of our moments with our children.

I love this meme that has been making the rounds on social media:


As the popular saying goes, the struggle is real. Some of us struggle with being on time. Others, organization. Some, our temper. Others, mood disorders. Some, with self-esteem. Others, self-acceptance. And the list goes on and on.

The point is, you are not alone. I am not alone. Somewhere, someone is struggling with the same inner demons that you are facing. Take comfort in the fact that even though we don’t all want to admit it, we are all hiding something.

What matters more is how we go above and beyond that to do our best for our children. Are we providing a safe place for them? Are we recognizing their needs? Are we responding to them?

We won’t get it right all the time. We can strive to do better; resolve to show them the best that we have to give more often than not.

I truly believe that if we operate from a place of love, we will make the right decisions for our family. A parent that makes decisions from a place of love for their child will make decisions that are best for their family.

And by the same token, we must also allow ourselves a measure of grace. For we are only human, and it is impossible to be at our best all of the time. Inevitably the pressures of “adulating”, the fatigue of trying to do too much in too few hours, the stress of daily life will sometimes crowd out our best intentions to show up as whole, patient humans raising other humans.

So today I invite you to name one small thing, just one, that you can strive for today. What is one small way that you can do best by your children and your family today? Then go for it! Do it, and go to sleep tonight with the satisfaction that you did one thing right today. Even if it was just keeping everyone alive for the day – it was worth it.

I leave you with these closing thoughts:




Monday Musings: On Parenting

“Being a parent is not about what you give up to have a child, but what you have gained from having one.”

Bruss and I just completed our 24th and 25th Bradley ™ series over the weekend. What a wonderful and exciting time for all of our students as many of them embark on parenthood for the very first time!!

For the last segment of our final class in the series, we each share our thoughts on “being mom” and “being dad”. Here are some things we share with our students about what is gained from becoming a parent:

1.) Your greatest teacher.
Each child that joins your family is unique, individual, and will require you to parent them in a particular way. If you take the time to watch them and listen to them, they will share some amazing insights and open your mind in ways that you never knew were possible. We aim to parent them in such way that honors them as smaller humans capable of experiencing and expressing their thoughts and emotions.

Their statements, actions, and questions allow us to be constantly evolving as parents. We have learned so much about ourselves, and how to be individual parents to each child, just by following their cues.

2.) The opportunity to be curious.
One of the best pieces of advice I received as a newlywed was from the mother of adopted children. She stated that her children were free of pressure to “be this” or “do that” because she and her husband had no way of imposing their expectations on them based purely on genetics. I resolved then and there to allow our children the same opportunity to be themselves, even though we are genetically related. Hence the curiosity: what is their talent, their gift, their calling??  Our statement to them is that we hope to help them find their calling, whatever it may be, and then support them 110% in their pursuit of their passions so that they can glorify God in their way with their gifts.

3.) The opportunity to play.
There are some places that are great to revisit as parents: the floor and the park. We take the opportunity to sit on the floor with our kiddos and play with our children. Not all the time, and not for their entire playtime, just when it works out. If it’s a super-busy day and our children want to play, I will say yes, for “x” minutes I can stop what I am doing and play with you.

We can also visit the park and play with our children. Maybe we won’t get on all the features of a playset; we do however push them on the swings or run around a little with them. And when we can, we do clamber up after them on the ladders and slide down the slides – it’s all in good fun.

4.) The opportunity to become a better version of yourself.
Being a parent is so much this. We try not to fall into old patterns that we learned from our own experience as children. Instead, we see the opportunity to decide what kind of parent we want to be, and do that. Whether it’s trying something new to set a good example, to being brave in situations you would usually avoid, to basic things like yelling less and laughing more, there are ways we can strive to be a better person every day.

5.) The truest love you will ever know.
One of my favorite movie moments is from the film, “Maleficent”. After sixteen years of protecting and growing to love the child, it is Maleficent’s kiss that breaks the curse she spoke to Sleeping Beauty.

The love I have for our children is fierce, protecting and caring. It wants to hold them tight and at the same time give the wings they need to fly. I hope that despite all the mistakes I have made and will make as a parent, our children will know that they are loved. The moments I treasure are the contented sighs in their sleep, their sleepy faces in my arms, the little hands reaching for mine when we are out for reassurance and safety, the spontaneous laughter around the kitchen table when we have “a moment” …those little moments make my heart swell to bursting.

While I love my husband to pieces, it is different to love and adult and to love a child. He is my lover, they are my beloveds. I am grateful for the opportunity to love them all.


So those are five things I feel I have gained from the opportunity to be a parent – how about you? What is something you have gained from having children?

Preschool Playdate: Flowers

Playdate: March 24, 2016
Theme: Spring Flowers

— Welcome song in English (emphasizes printed name recognition as Sweet Peas find their card in a line-up and place it on our Name Ledge)
— Welcome song in Spanish (reinforces names as Sweet Peas sing to their peers)
— Discussion of theme: passed around seeds and plants for children to observe
— Storytime: Book from Enchanted
— Unsquiggle activity: growing plants

Unsquiggle: after the children got to see the seed, roots growing, first leaves, and flowers, we invite them to act out the growth cycle.  They ball themselves up into little seeds, start shooting roots, then stem, leaves and flowers. A parent or another child can be the sun shining and the water falling from the sky or a watering can.  Whoever is the water can visit each child individually and water them to grow. (Idea from Mailbox Superbook)

We used a book we made when Puma was a preschooler. It shows all the stages of growing from seed to plant, and you can print your own copy HERE at Enchanted

We passed around these samples for the children to look at and get to experience the live version of what they were seeing on the page.

Image-1 (33)


This was a fun activity to put together. I was trying to incorporate uppercase and lowercase letters, and then it occurred to me that each letter could also be a color of the rainbow.  I decided to add a little Spanish into the color identification games.

Level 1: Match the colors

Level 2: Match the letters in the same case (Uppercase to uppercase)

Level 3: Match the letters to the opposite case (Uppercase to lowercase)



This was a number correspondence game. The children would place the correct number of buttons in the corresponding basket. The game could be played with random placement, or with instructions like, “same color”, “same size”, or, “make a pattern”.



This is a felt activity where children could play with the arrangement of the flower parts and also identify the print words. A parent can ask a younger preschool to turn the letters the correct way. If the child is already sounding out, they could start to read the words.



ARTS & CRAFTS ~ Make & Take

This is a print activity.  You could use paint or ink – we opted for paint this time.  I didn’t lay out any “sample” with this activity…simply put out the sponge shapes and plates of color and waited to see what would happen. As you can see, there were lots of ideas on how to make flowers.



We finish our Preschool Playdate with a sharing time: each child that wants to share gets to say what (s)he enjoyed the most about the morning.  We close with a good-bye song where children are welcome to give hugs.  It helps to set a formal end to the time together so that parents have a clear reason to insist that it’s time to go if they have somewhere to be afterwards.

Stop in next week to see all the fun we have exploring caterpillars and butterflies today.


Preschool Playdate: Carnival!

Play date: February 25th
In honor of Carnival Day

— Welcome song in English (emphasizes printed name recognition as Sweet Peas find their card in a line-up and place it on our Name Ledge)
— Welcome song in Spanish (reinforces names as Sweet Peas sing to their peers)
— Discussion of theme: What is a carnival? Children+Parents named some of the different places they had been to a carnival.
— Storytime: Manner Monster
— Centers
— Poem/Song before we say goodbye


I searched high and low on our bookshelves for a story with a carnival theme, or even a mention of going to a carnival.  For once, they came up short!! I could have used one of our word dictionary books…however, this provided a great opportunity to share a book I bought with playdates in mind, The Do’s and Don’ts by Hayley Rose.  I marked the pages that would work as basic guidelines for a safe carnival experience and shared those, rather than reading through the whole book.


Before breaking for centers, we also shared an tumbling show with our guests. All our homeschoolers take tumbling classes, so they threw together a quick little routine to perform for our guests.  The Sweet Peas were kind enough to show their appreciation by yelling, “More!” when we turned off the music – my big kids were tickled pink!

What’s a carnival without a fishing game?? I chose six letters that the children had seen over the last few months.  The game/pieces are from Discovery Toys, and the letter magnets are from Lakeshore Learning. The sweet peas could fish for lowercase letters and then match them to the correct uppercase letter.


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This was inspired by the ring toss games on the carnival midway.  I modified a cookie game from Lakeshore Learning (it was a big hit when we did our Cookie Playdate). So I decided to give it a reprise as today’s counting game, and also incorporate colors and shapes…hence the Cookie Toss!
Level 1: Practice gross motor skills and simply toss cookies on the plate.
Level 2: Roll the dice and count out the cookies to throw
Level 3: Roll, count, and then name the color and shape on the plate where the cookie landed


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We had three “discovery” centers today:
Puma and Otter helped the kiddos with some basic tumbling – Otter demonstrated and Puma coached.  They taught our guests spider walks, stoop jumps, somersaults, and straddle rolls.


This was another gross motor skill activity. We stacked up some of our upcycled tins and created a stacking tower with them.  The kiddos took turns throwing a bean bag at the tower to see how many they could knock over with one throw.  The can-counting also gave us the opportunity to work in some math 🙂



I pulled out this game with all the “in the basket” games that are prominent on carnival midways.  This was a no-pressure fun way to get the bones in the dog’s mouth – no tossing involved!  The sweet peas could use the tweezers to work on fine motor skills, or simply pick up the bones with their fingers and put them in front of the stuffed pup or inside the dog’s mouth.



ARTS & CRAFTS ~ Make & Take
There was no planned craft today – I had a couple of ideas that I just didn’t get around to executing.  I always have art paper and art supplies around the house.  The group very organically started grabbing sheets of paper and drawing supplies and before I knew it, there was a gaggle of children on the floor having the best time drawing!!

It was a good reminder for me: simple can be enough!!


We finish our Preschool Playdate with a sharing time: each child that wants to share gets to say what (s)he enjoyed the most about the morning.  There were several favorites today: tumbling, bean bag toss, feed the dog, and fishing were all named more than once.

We close with a good-bye song where children are welcome to give hugs.  It helps to set a formal end to the time together so that parents have a clear reason to insist that it’s time to go if they have somewhere to be afterwards.

We are taking a two-week break from hosting playdates while we enjoy our Spring Break!  Join me the next couple of Thursdays for a peek inside our vacations at Disneyland + Legoland.  I will take the time to blog about how amazing both theme parks are for our gluten-free family.

Preschool Playdate: Black History Month

Play date: February 18, 2016
Inspiration: Black History Month

— Welcome song in English (emphasizes printed name recognition as Sweet Peas find their card in a line-up and place it on our Name Ledge)
— Welcome song in Spanish (reinforces names as Sweet Peas sing to their peers)
— Discussion of theme: we talked about how even today, people are talking about excluding people due to the color of their skin or their religion:
— Storytime: Our Children Can Soar by Michelle Cook

This is my second year sharing this book – still can’t read it without having my voice crack. I can’t help but think of what it must have been like for these tremendous people who had the courage to face discrimination, hatred, and even violence to assert their basic humanity, and the right to equitable treatment under the law and from their fellow human.



This year I chose for all the cards to tie to the characters in the book.  We split the cards and the letters between two tables so the kiddos could do two letter stations and explore a little more about the historical figures mentioned in the book.  I also highlighted the first letter of the name that they were looking to match to make it a little easier to locate the letter.


This was a neat find – the inventor of the golf tee is from one of the towns I lived in as a child – Oswego, New York!! This idea is from Preschool Plan-it: using golf tees in styrofoam, and then having the kiddos balance pom-poms on the top.  The Sweet Peas got to practice counting as well as fine motor skills if they used the tweezers.



This little chemistry experiment was an homage to the great African-American chemist, George Washington Carver.  We didn’t use peanuts or sweet potatoes, but we did use a vegetable: red cabbage.  Red cabbage can be used to test for acids.  After soaking in boiling water, it turns to water purple.  If any acid is mixed into the solution, it will turn varying shades of pink.

The Sweet Peas had fun guessing which items would turn the water pink, testing their hypothesis, and then finding out what in fact, is and isn’t acid.



ARTS & CRAFTS ~ Make & Take
This is another inspiration from Preschool Plan-it: mixing shaving cream and glue so that the art work is permanent.  It actually has a really cool spongy texture.  Mixing the glue, shaving cream, and food coloring was a fun activity in and of itself!



We finish our Preschool Playdate with a sharing time: each child that wants to share gets to say what (s)he enjoyed the most about the morning.  This morning, there were three popular centers: the math, the art, and the discovery centers were all mentioned with equal enthusiasm.

We close with a good-bye song where children are welcome to give hugs.  It helps to set a formal end to the time together so that parents have a clear reason to insist that it’s time to go if they have somewhere to be afterwards.

Join us next week for a peek into our carnival-inspired playdate!!

Preschool Playdate: Restaurant

May 21, 2015
Theme chosen in honor of National Waiter/Waitress Day

— Welcome song in English (emphasizes printed name recognition as Sweet Peas find their card in a line-up and place it on our Name Ledge)
— Welcome song in Spanish (reinforces names as Sweet Peas sing to their peers)
— Discussion of theme: we talked about eating at a restaurant, asked if any of the mommies had ever waited tables, and the kinds of things we see in a restaurant: tables, chairs, food, cash register, menus, etc.
— Storytime
— Unsquiggle activity
— Poem/Song before we break for Centers


We took the opportunity to introduce the concept of money this playdate…because waiters and waitresses need to make change!

As the book introduced different values of coins, we passed around the oversize coins that we use in our own homeschool math center.


We introduced the concept of vowels in May – so here is another activity that takes advantage of matching letters to sounds.  I selected five foods that started with each of the vowel letters: apple, egg, ice cream, oatmeal or “O’s”, and unagi (a type of sushi).

Level 1: Name+Match the letter magnets

Level 2: Match the letter magnet to the beginning sound of the food item.


This was a shape-match center today! We put out the matching egg activity that was gifted to Puma for her first Christmas (the set is almost 11 years old now!).  We also pulled out a pancake-plate matching activity. The brown circles represent pancakes – the Sweet Peas would use the spatula to put them on the plate with the corresponding shape.

Level 1: Match shapes

Level 2: Match & name the shapes

Level 3: Sort the pancake shapes, and then count them as they are placed on the plates.


We put out the oversize shaped coins, along with actual coins. The sweet peas could interact with both the teaching and the actual money.

Level 1: Sort them into matching piles + introduce the concept of value

Level 2: Count how many coins are in each pile

Level 3: Add up the value of the money


ARTS & CRAFTS ~ Make & Take
Each Sweet Pea got to make their own apron to use during imaginative play time.  We used hole reinforcers to make the hole-punched paper stronger, and used a thin craft yarn for the ties.


After the kiddos finished their aprons and we cleaned up the stations, the Sweet Peas played restaurant. We pulled out the play cash registers, food, and kitchen so that they could take orders, prepare, and serve foods to the mommies.  I made visual order forms so that the children could see the written words for the food that the mommies were ordering.


We finish our Preschool Playdate with a sharing time: each child that wants to share gets to say what (s)he enjoyed the most about the morning.  We close with a good-bye song where children are welcome to give hugs.  It helps to set a formal end to the time together so that parents have a clear reason to insist that it’s time to go if they have somewhere to be afterwards.  Otherwise, the kiddos and parents that don’t have to leave stay and play until the music teacher for our older Sweet Peas arrives.