Tot School: Week 5

Hi friends!

Week five of Tot School is a wrap — and as always, we had so much fun!

This week, we only had a short amount of time to have the littles together — so our lesson was condensed into fewer activities, but allowing more time within those activities for learning.  I wanted to focus the entire day on talking about Springtime, but we ended up covering “Spring” at the end of the day, and spending a bit more time on colors and letter recognition.  The little ones seemed to be a bit all over the place, and their attention spans were very short — so we had to improvise 😉

Here was the week 5 lesson plan:

Tot School

We started the day off with a Color Review activity that was super fun — but did require a little bit of prep!  I secretly raided Ella’s toys to find a variety of different small toys in all the colors of the rainbow, plus brown, black, and white. I made sure to have at least 3-4 toys of each color, and then mixed them up in a small plastic bin.  Then, I gathered all of the matching colors of construction paper, and laid out the paper on the floor in a circle.  All of the littles sat on the floor, and I would lift out a toy, and say “What color is this?” Whoever answered correctly first, got the toy — but they had to place the toy on the matching colored paper.  It was a bit rough in the beginning, but once they got it — they loved it.  Ella particularly loved it — we have now included this game into our daily play. 🙂


After our color review, we moved into the kitchen for fun “Do-A-Dot” activities. Since Week 4 we focused on A, B, and C — this week, we focused on D, E, and F.  We dotted the letters by themselves (you can find the templates we used here), and also did the “Spot and Dot” activity we did last week — which was awesome and the kids really enjoyed it (as well as the proud mommas!).  You can find the “Spot and Dot” worksheets here.  The littles LOVE their Do-A-Dot markers, or as most of them call it “Colors” or “Painting.” Purchasing these markers has been a huge help with our tot school — highly recommended!

After our Do-A-Dots, we did a special painting activity.  All of our toddlers know their names and the letter their names start with — so when I was out piddling away at Michaels, I found some chipboard letters in each of their first initials on clearance, and I thought, “TOT SCHOOL!”  The only letter they were missing was the letter “E” — of course! 😉  But, instead of doing a letter for Ella, we let her paint a shape that looked like a ticket — that we will then write her full name on.

We used Crayola Washable Paint, and let the kids go to town painting their letters — after we made them say what each one was out loud.  It was great practice for them to remember their friends names — as well as practice of letter recognition outside of the repetition of the Alphabet song.

Painting was so much fun — but whew! What a mess 😉  We cleaned up, and our last activity of the day was going to be talking about spring, flowers, and actually putting our hands in dirt to plant our own little pots of daisies.  For a snack, I made “dirt cups” with chocolate pudding and crushed oreos — so we decided it was a better idea to eat our dessert AFTER we plant our flowers, to avoid having the kids eating real dirt thinking it was a treat.  #momwin

We found these mini pots with seeds at our local Target in the $1 section.  Each little one got to plant two pots — one with daisy seeds, one with poppy seeds.  They all had fun playing in the dirt, for sure — I think once they are a bit older they will understand what we were actually doing.  They are learning, though — and so are we 🙂 I absolutely love the look Ella has on her face in the first picture below — she’s like “Hey man.. whatchu guys doing…..?” LOL

And, of course — everyone’s favorite part of the day was our dessert treat.  Even the Mommies enjoyed this one! 😉  At first, the kids were like — eww, we are going to eat dirt?? But, in the end, I think they enjoyed it.

Week Six was supposed to be last week — but scheduling conflicts prevented us Mommies from coordinating on a day together.  However, Ella Grey is just so in love with school and learning.  There isn’t a day that goes by where she isn’t grabbing my hand to sit with her as I quiz her with flashcards on her numbers and letters.  She knows her ABCs, she can count to 25, and is great with her colors and shapes.  It’s amazing to watch her grow and learn — seems like everyday there is something new!

I’m planning to expand on our once a week “tot school” lessons with our friends, and include a weekly lesson plan of the activities I’m doing with just Ella — so be on the lookout, friends!  The greatest gift you can give your child (aside from love, of course) is an opportunity for growth and learning. And, she’s soaking everything up like a sponge right now — so let’s set goals, let’s continue to learn, and let’s get to it!

Do you have any amazing homeschool, preschool, or “tot school” activities you are doing with your little one?  PLEASE SHARE!  I’m always on the hunt for “gold” when it comes to new and exciting ways to teach Ella.  I’d be so appreciative 🙂

Drop me a comment below, or check me out on Facebook and Instagram!


Whole 30: Week Two Meal Plan

Happy Monday, friends!

I hope everyone had a lovely Mother’s Day — I spent the day relaxing and enjoying some snuggles with my sweet Ella, and my amazing husband surprised me by putting together the new pull-up/dip bar in the garage!  He knows the way to my heart, for sure! 😉

So, last week I started Whole 30 — and because I’m completely transparent with you all, I’ll tell you — it wasn’t that difficult in the beginning of the week, but I caved into a few treats over the weekend.  Now, I could name off a list of excuses — but I won’t.  Truth is, it’s a mental thing that I need to work on, and even though I have all the control — I let a craving get the best of me.  I’m better than that, and I’m worth more than that — so here’s to week two (or.. week one redux?), feeling more fired up and determined!

Meals last week were AWESOME.  I tried some new things, including making a delicious steak salad that I ended up making again last night for Mother’s Day, because it was that DANG good. 🙂  I also tried Turkey Meatballs for the first time, which were tasty!  I didn’t get to make the Zucchini Taco Boats last week, so I will be making them this week instead. I’ve made a mental note to take pictures of the dinners I make to recap for next week.  The only real picture I got last week was of my turkey meatballs — which were delicious, but I wish I had more pics to share with you!


Workouts were also really good last week, although I took TWO rest days (whaaaattt)!  So unlike me!  But, they were amazing and NEEDED — I’ve been working really hard for the past few months, so I don’t feel too guilty for needing to relax.

This week, it’s back to the grindstone!  On top of the planned meals, I’ve scheduled three run days with the girls, plus going to Body Back and Stroller Strides.  I’m also yearning to break in the pull-up bar, so I’m sure I’ll be in there at least 3 times this week too!

Here’s the meal plan for week two:

Whole 30

The only meal that isn’t 100% Whole 30 on this week’s plan is the Mediterranean Bean Salad (no Beans on Whole 30!).  To make it Whole 30, I’m incorporating GREEN BEANS (which are Whole 30 approved!) instead of the traditional limas.  It will essentially be like the Veggie Salad I already make and love, except without the extra veggies and I may throw some chicken on there for fun! 😉 Also, the Chicken Curry will be made with Whole 30 compliant Coconut Milk.

Breakfasts this week will continue to include lots and lots of EGGS (I’m on an egg kick lately!).  Snacks will continue to be a variety of fruit, veggie strips, and almonds — but I noticed last week that I was better when I prepped them in advance.  So, this week, I plan to cut up some fruit for grab-and-go, and bag up some veggies — this way, NO EXCUSES!  Also, last week I assumed I’d make extra of each dinner so I could have these dishes for lunch too, but I didn’t.  I’m going to do that this week, as well as incorporate some boiled eggs, celery sticks and almond butter, and quick salads to the mix.

I will say, I did pretty good with eliminating the sugar, as well as not eating past 9PM.  This surprised me — and I’m going to continue doing this this week, as well! 🙂

Let’s have a kick-ass week, friends!


DIY Wednesday: Toddler Shape Match Game!

Hi friends — and HAPPY DIY WEDNESDAY!!

This week, I have a fun and EASY (and educational!) DIY for you to try: a Toddler Shape Match Game!

DIY ToddlerShape Match Game!

We’ve been “tot school” crazy in our house lately, and I can’t seem to get enough of finding new ways to help Ella learn her colors, shapes, alphabet, and numbers!  One of the activities I made to help her with colors and shapes was a “Shape Match Game” from popsicle sticks, a pen, and markers!


This one doesn’t have much of a tutorial or instructions.  Simply draw out your shape over two popsicle sticks that are side by side.  Try to make sure the shape is centered when you draw, so half will be on one popsicle stick and half on the other stick.  I used different colors for these, to also test Ella’s colors, but you can use just one color if you choose.  I then wrote the name of each shape on the bottom half of the stick, so this activity can be used for word recognition when she gets a little older.


And, yes.. one of our shapes is Mickey Mouse. 🙂

She loves it, and it keeps her busy for a good 5-10 minutes as she puts all of the shapes together.  Plus, she just beams when she gets a big “HOORAY” when she gets it right!

Hope everyone is having a fantastic week so far!!


Body Back: Week Eight Recap — The Final Assessment!

It’s hard to believe… but my first session of Body Back is over! Wow.

8 weeks of early mornings, intense workouts, and BURPEES.  I feel I’ve grown so much in the past 8 weeks — I’ve learned so much more about myself, and the direction in which my future is heading.

So, you’ve waited and waited for 8 weeks — so let’s get to it!

Week eight started out rough — I caught a silly cold over the weekend, so I managed to miss the last class before the assessment!  BLAST!  I really wanted that final workout in — but really, I knew this was it and one more workout before the assessment wasn’t going to make or break me.

The morning of the assessment was here before I knew it.  I was so excited for it, I barely slept the night before — and felt super pumped when I arrived to our workout area at an earrrrlllllyyyy 5:30AM.  The first thing we did was take our “After” photos, followed by weighing in and doing our measurements.

Weight and Measurement Results:

Body Back - Session One

Overall, I lost 1.6lbs and 3 inches.  However, I also gained 1.5 inches in my arms and hips.  After doing these measurements, I have to admit — I was feeling a bit down about it.  I worked my tail off — I was expecting to have a bigger difference.  It just wasn’t in the cards for me this time. But…..then we did our actual physical FITNESS assessment.

Here are the results and comparison from the fitness assessment:

Body Back - Session One-2

Yes… You read that right.  Although I was bummed about my measurements — I kicked butt on my physical assessment — and that’s really what mattered most to me.  I knew I had areas to work on from the initial assessment — and I worked hard on all of those areas.

When I started this, I could only hold a wall-sit for 1 minute and 34 seconds.  8 weeks later, I held a wall-sit for TWENTY FIVE MINUTES.  TWENTY FIVE!!!  And, truth is — I think I could’ve held it longer!  Directly after, I ran my mile in 5 seconds quicker time than I originally started.  That’s incredible — and man, my legs were JELLY!

I do feel a little bummed about my planks and side bridge– I know I can hold longer than this.  But, honestly (and not to give excuses…) I did side bridges LAST — you know, after I held that 25 minute wall-sit, bicep curls, etc.  So, only improving a little from the first assessment is okay with me.  C’mon.. twenty five minutes! That’s insane.

And, last but not least… the photos:

I don’t see a huge difference in the photos — but the huge difference is beyond what the photos show.  The girl in the grey tank is STRONGER, more CONFIDENT, and HAPPIER. And that, my friends, is worth every single second, every single sweat bead, every single burpee.

One evening last week, on our walk, Ella fell asleep — so I took a few minutes to just sit and think by a lake that sits behind our neighborhood.  I couldn’t help but smile, thinking of how far I’ve come — not only just in these last 8 weeks, but since we moved here.  It’s an incredible difference.

The girl I once knew was struggling.  She had forgotten who she was, what she loved to do. She was so consumed by working and being a mom in her non-working time, that she let herself come second .. third.. last. She would constantly be told she looked “tired” or that she needed to smile more.  And, truth is .. I was tired.  I did need to smile more — I just was struggling to find balance that reminded me of all the beautiful things I had in my life to smile for.

But now, it’s completely different.  I find myself laughing more, crying less.  I’m beginning to recognize myself again.  I’m getting to meet such amazing new people who have become instant friends!  I’m remembering all of the things I love to do. I’m making time for myself — and time to appreciate the little things.  I’m getting out of my comfort zone. I’m GROWING.

I’m proud of myself and how far I’ve come.  I’m a constant work in progress, for sure — but you know, I’m definitely moving in the right direction. 🙂



Whole 30: Week One Meal Plan

Happy Monday, friends!

As part of my month of Health and Wellness (and mentioned in my previous post here), I will be aiming to complete my first Whole 30 this month!  This is super exciting for me — I’ve always wanted to give Whole 30 a shot, and I’m looking to really hone in on my eating habits and practice a bit more mindfulness when it comes to the foods I put in my body.

In order to be successful, I’m going to plan out my meals each week, and will be posting those meal plans here!  At the end of the week and beginning of the next week, I will do a recap post of how it went, with pics and recipes of the delicious meals I prepare.

So, let’s get started!

Here is Week One’s Meal Plan:

Whole 30_ Week One

My breakfasts are going to remain pretty consistent throughout the week: eggs, eggs, and more eggs! 🙂  Also, I’m planning to make extra of dinner each night so I will have leftovers for lunch!  Snacks will consist of almonds, vegetable strips (celery, peppers, carrots, cucumber), and olives/pickles.  Also, my goal is to not eat after 9PM.

I’m very excited to try out some new dishes this week, and look forward to sharing them with you!

Do you have any Whole 30 approved dinner ideas?  I’d love to hear them!  Leave me a comment below or let’s connect on Facebook!


May: the Month of Health and Wellness

Happy May, friends!

I just love May — Spring is in the air, beautiful blue almost-Summer skies, flowers, Mother’s Day, and warm days that still have a bit of a nice breeze — before the Florida death-heat takes over!

This month, in conjunction with my year of GROWTH, our little family will be focusing on Health and Wellness.  We have BIG goals for the month, and I’m so excited to share the journey with you.

Raux and I are fairly healthy people — we are active and usually eat pretty good, but this month, I want to take it a step further.  To fill our month of Health and Wellness, we’ve set out these goals for May:

May Goals-2

Garage gym.  I’m so pumped for this.  For YEARS, we’ve been talking about having our own  workout space, equipped with a pull-up/dip bar, but never had the space or resources to get it going.  We would just go to our local park and use their bars, or modify using playground equipment.  But not anymore — we finally ordered our bar, and it should be delivered this coming Thursday. I’m so excited! I have some big goals to be able to do a single pull-up and a handstand push-up by the end of the year, and this will definitely be put to good use!  We have also planned to buy the mat flooring and a medicine ball this upcoming week to start building it out further.

Body Back wrapped up last Wednesday, and I’m beginning the next session (only 4 weeks) on Tuesday.  I’m officially addicted to it, and I can’t wait to jump back in.  Oh, and the final assessment post should be up on the blog soon, so you can see how much progress was made in the first 8 weeks!  I’ll give you a hint: TWENTY. FIVE. MINUTES. Stay tuned…..

Fit4Mom (the company that runs the Stroller Strides and Body Back programs I’m obsessed with) is celebrating May by empowering all Mommas to run 26.2 miles over the course of the entire month.  This made my heart super happy — I love running, and feel I’ve been slacking on this part of my fitness regime lately.  So, I volunteered to help out by leading a running group for any of the Mommas in our village that want to hit this goal by running their mileage.  We will be meeting every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings and covering between 2-3 miles per day — but I’m also going to reach out whenever I’m planning to do extra runs to see if anyone wants to join in.  It’s so awesome to have a group of people who love to run and workout as much as you do  😉

I can already check one goal off my list — registering for my first FULL marathon.  Running a full marathon has been a dream — but after running 15Ks and halves, I’ve never been brave enough to jump into registering for a full.  Well, not anymore!  I registered for my first full this morning — I WILL BE a marathoner come January 29th, 2017.  What a great start to my 30th year — gonna crush 30 like it’s my job!

Whole 30 has also been a goal of mine for a while.  While I normally eat pretty healthy, I have a hell of a sweet tooth.  I’ve had friends who have had great success with Whole 30, and I figured since Body Back is only 4 weeks this session, this is the perfect opportunity to do Whole 30 for the month of May!  It’s going to be challenging, but I’m hoping it will really shake me into a better eating routine, being even more mindful of my choices, and honestly — I just want to feel better!  I want to be a reflection of the fuel I put into my body — satisfied, healthy, and clean. I plan to do weekly posts focusing on my meal plans and nutrition as I work through this process — and would love all the accountability and cheerleaders I can get!

Lately, I’ve been falling into a TV rut, and haven’t been giving my books much attention.  I seriously have my nightstand and bedside filled with books that I’m yearning to read — but will find myself re-watching old Grey’s episodes instead.  NO MORE!  I’m challenging myself to read through 2 personal development books this month.  First, I’m going to read “Happier at Home” by Gretchen Rubin — I adore her SO much, she’s like my spiritual master!  I’m going to save my second choice for when I finish “Happier at Home” — which will hopefully be added motivation. 🙂

I really enjoy Stephen Covey’s 7 habits principles, especially his work on motivating people to spend time “sharpening their own saw.”  I need to do this more in my own life — I find myself getting wrapped up with the day to day, making sure everyone else’s needs and wants are met, and not giving enough time for me to do something for myself.  This month, I want to spend a few hours one day a week (at least) to sharpen my saw: go to the bookstore, write, go see a movie, take myself out to lunch — SOMETHING.  Something where I just go piddle without having to worry much about anything except enjoying MYSELF.

So that’s it, friends!  May’s goals.  I’m so excited for each of these, and am already getting started on crushing them — went for a 3 mile run this morning, registered for the marathon, received notification about our bar getting here on Thursday, feeling good so far on Day 1 of Whole 30, and I’m starting my 1st book tonight.

It’s going to be a FANTASTIC month!

Do you have goals for May?  What are they?!  I’d love to hear all about it!  Drop me a comment below, or check me out on Facebook or Instagram!




Tot School: Week 4

Hi friends!

Week 4 of Tot School was SO MUCH FUN!!  We had planned to do a whole lesson about Spring, but one of our littles wasn’t able to join this week — so instead, we focused our time on learning more about ABCs and 123s!  This way, we could save the fun plans for Spring until we had all of our babes present. 🙂

I’ve had a few people message me on FB about our weekly lesson plans — so I’ve decided to create a cute graphic for each week, listing out the different activities we do.  This way, you can use the graphic as a guideline, and delve more into the blog post about details of what each activity entailed.  It is SO exciting to hear all the positive feedback about our littles and our mommy “dream-come-true” Tot School — as well as inspiring to hear that many of you are interested in starting your own Tot School!  Just more proof (like we needed any?) that Moms are SO AMAZING and SUPERHEROES. 🙂

Tot School_ Week four-2

We started off this week with a review of our colors using our bandanas.  We tried two approaches to this:  we asked them to pick out certain colors from a pile (ie. “Where is the PINK bandana?”), as well as held up a color and asked them to name it (ie. “What color bandana is THIS?”).  The girls were SO fast at doing this — I think it’s safe to say colors are officially MASTERED — which means, this mommy needs to find a “color” themed badge for our little Explorers’ sashes!  We will more than likely continue to keep a color testing activity in each lesson, just to keep it fresh!

After colors, we practiced our number skills by using flashcards to name off which number was on each card.  The numbers ranged from 1-25.  Most of the girls had 1-10 down, but 11-25 was a challenge.  This is great to know, as I can now cater future lessons to develop those number skills.  Lilly Belle brought her abacus with her for this class, which the girls loved playing with (and naming off the colors), although they didn’t quite get the purpose of using it.  We showed them that you can move each piece one at a time to count “1….2….3…” but they would end up moving 5 pieces at a time or more.  But, they are learning — and that’s all that matters!  This was the first class that we really introduced numbers, so it’s amazing to see how far along they already are (kudos to you Mommas for at home teaching!!). IMG_4034.jpg

After number flashcards, we retreated to the kitchen for “painting” with our Do-A-Dot markers!  On top of our usual “dot” a letter or shape (in this case, we dotted the letters A, B, and C), I threw in a new activity of “find the correct letter and dot!”  I found these cute worksheets on Pinterest (swoon!), so we did these sheets for the letters A, B, and C.  This was fun to watch — I think the girls had anticipated the activity to be the same as it has been for the past few weeks, but throwing this activity in switched it up a bit — and they seemed to have fun!  I’m definitely going to have to do more practice of these at home with Ella Grey — she gets “dot-happy” and wants to just dot EVERYTHING.  Another lesson in mommy patience and understanding. 🙂

After we used our dot markers, I introduced a pasting activity — where the girls had to match the correct shape/object next to the letter it started with.  I simply cut these shapes out by hand, but I’m sure you can find ones to print online.  We did “A is for Apple, B is for Bee, and C is for Cat.”  This was nice to do, also, because it was something the Mommas could take home and hang on their fridge.  We did this in our house, and it’s cute/helpful — as Ella will walk past it pretty much daily and say “APPLE — CAT — A — B — C!” Constant exposure and practice!

I managed to find a hidden gem recently at our local Target, where they sell letter and number shaped chocolate “animal” crackers — PERFECT for our little Tots!  We used these “cookies” after our pasting activity to recite our letters and numbers, and attempt to spell our names (which proved to be a bit more difficult — not enough Ls and Es for this group!).  Best part for them? They could eat it — and boy, did they!


We finished up our day of ABCs and 123s by putting together a big Alphabet puzzle.  This puzzle was awesome because it has uppercase and lowercase letters — something I know Ella Grey needs to work on, and the other littles too!


It warmed my heart watching the three girls put this together — and as they found the letters, they were naming off the color too.  I’d say that’s a double win .. 1 for Mommas, and 1 for Tot School.

Tot School is such a beautiful experience, and the learning goes beyond the time that we are with our friends once a week.  Ella has picked up SO much in the past 4 weeks — even those moments when you don’t think you littles are paying attention or understanding — THEY ARE!  She gets SO excited about learning — instead of grabbing the TV remote, she will grab her flashcards.  Instead of constantly playing with toys, she wants to play with her puzzles.  And, I think being around the other little ones is helping her develop her language skills even more.

Best. Idea. Ever. 🙂