Train Counting Puzzle

Does your little one love trains?  How about puzzles?  Let’s add some counting to the mix for good measure, and we get a Train Counting Puzzle.  My inspiration for this was the Caterpillar Counting Puzzle I talked about yesterday.

This is what we did.

I cut three cereal boxes into squares/rectangles.  I thought Jamie’s idea for painting in a baggy was a brilliant idea.  So we tried it.

Aiden pretty much hated it.  I tried to sell the idea by showing him how the paint squished around.  I even pulled out a rolling pin so he could flatten it.  Yeah, not so much.  He wanted to use a paint brush.  This didn’t work in the baggy, so he just opened the bag and that was the end of that brilliant idea.  Maybe it will work for you though.  Jamie’s toddler loved it.

I gave in and let Aiden paint with a sponge brush not in a baggy.  I squirted some paint onto the cardboard and he went to town asking for more paint ever so often.

Aiden would choose to have all of the colors on every cardboard piece if I let him.  Did you notice that on his paper bag art piece?  Most everything he paints turns out gray.

I carefully limited his color choices so we would be able to vary the colors of the train.  I did let him use all of the colors on a couple of the pieces.

I painted edges after Aiden was done painting each cardboard piece.

We let the cardboard pieces dry while we went off to play.

Later, I turned our painted pieces into train cars and an engine.  I rounded corners on some of the cars and cut various shapes out to make the train.  I had a super fun time cutting out the circles.  I had a few circles leftover from our Valentine Matching Games, but not enough for all of the train.  I should have pulled out my Silhouette to let it cut out the circles for me.  Instead I traced the bottom of a paint bottle and cut the circles by hand.

I put together the engine and glued on the wheels.

Now for the puzzle creating part.  I just cut out a random shape from a train car and attached it to the car/engine in front with a skinny rectangle in between.While I was turning the train into a puzzle, Aiden decided it would be a good idea to color on the train cars with crayons.  Who am I to stop him?

I put the train puzzle in order and numbered the cars.  Then, I added animal stickers to each car.  Train car number 1 received one bear sticker, train car number 2 was allowed two snake stickers, etc…  Aiden was off doing something else at this point, otherwise I would have had him add the stickers to the train cars.

That’s it!  Aiden put the train together and we counted the animals as he did this.  Then, he decided it would be fun to march around the train to “The Ants Go Marching,” so, of course, I broke out in song so he could march.

Left click on the train image to view a bigger size.

We paired the train counting puzzle with some books as well.

We read 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo by Eric Carle  {It’s a counting book about a train full of animals – how fitting!}

We also read Skippyjon Jones 1, 2, 3 {a board book that counts some of the things a naughty kitty gets into}

Lastly, we read a Thomas the Train lift the flap book.  No numbers or counting in this one {except for the numbers on Thomas and James}, but it is fun to see the things under the flaps.  You could always count the things you find.

I’m linking up with my favorite places.

What are your favorite train or counting books? {bonus for both}


Paper Bag Creative Challenge

What fun can you have with a paper bag?  That is essentially the challenge from Tinkerlab: Grab a paper bag and some other materials and see what your child will create.

Before we started with the paper bag, we went outside to gather some supplies.
Aiden collected rocks and acorns from our front yard.

I cut up the paper bag to make a canvas for his creation.

I set up some watercolor paints {we later broke out some different paints}.

Here’s how the art piece progressed:

Aiden started by finger painting with the watercolors.

Then, he grabbed a brush.

He wanted to move on to different paints, so he mixed them up and used a sponge brush to paint some of the rocks and acorns we collected along with the paper bag.

We had some cut out shapes leftover from our Valentine Matching Games.  Aiden applied those to the art piece as well.

We also crumpled up a coffee filter we painted and added it to the corner.

Here’s the final product:

It was definitely about the process for us:
Searching for rocks and acorns outside;
Playing with shapes and colors;
Combined with the sensory experience of painting
Makes for a fun time!


Here are some of the blogs that are taking part in this challenge:

Paint Cut Paste, Imagination Soup, Hands On: As We Grow, Child Central Station, Putti Prapancha, Irresistible Ideas for Play-Based Learning, Teach Preschool, The Chocolate Muffin Tree, Nurture Store, Small Types,Make Do & Friend, The Imagination Tree, Toddler Approved, Red Ted Art, Mommy Labs, Kids in the Studio, Rainy Day Mum, Glittering Muffins, Sense of Wonder, Mom To 2 Posh Lil Divas, Come Together Kids, My Creative Family, Kitchen Counter Chronicles, A Mom With A Lesson Plan, Angelique Felix, The Golden Gleam, Share and Remember, Clarion Wren, Living at the Whitehead’s Zoo, Let Kids Create, De tout et de rien, PlayDrMom, Creativity My Passion, Messy Kids, Kiwi Crate, Tinkerlab

Check out what they are doing.


1. Where the Wild Things Are, RTA

2. Valentine Animals on Bag

3. Mini Coloring Book

4. Paper Bag Monsters

5. Child Directed Projects

6. Paper Bag Puppets & Literacy

7. Paper bag dress with hanger

8. Paper Bag Windsock

9. Paper Bag Thankful Book

10. Paper bag bean bags

11. Paper Bag Princesses

12. paper bag weaving

13. Bark george: Origami Dog play

14. Paper Bag Heart Gifts

15. paper bag purse

16. Paper Bag Fan

17. Stuffed Puffy Heart

18. Paper Bag Fairy Dresses

19. Paper Bag Valentine Satchel

20. A Clowns Hat

21. Paper Bag Angry Birds

22. Paper Bag Knights Helmet

23. Childrens Art Lanterns

24. Hot Air Balloon Night Light

25. Patterned paper heart banner

26. paper bag envelopes

27. Paper Bag Walnut Grove

28. A Hunt for Love

29. Gruffalo paper bag

30. Cave art

31. Tall Giraffe Puppet Tutorial

32. Paper Bag Backpack

33. Painted Paper Bag Fairy Book

34. Mystery Bag

35. Paper Bag Art

36. Simple Paper Bag Weaving

37. Paper Bag Love Owl

38. Paper Bag Love Bomb

39. Valentines Bags for 2s

40. Bag Vests w Design Papers: LUV

41. Handcrafted Bangles from paper

42. LOVE Luminaries

43. Small play hut from Paper Bag

44. Goldfish Bag Puppet Tutorial

45. Hungry Paper Bag Lion

46. Paper Bag Painted Rose Bouquet

47. Learning Color Words

48. Paper Bag Boat

49. Ferocious Paper Bag

50. Josephs Colored Coat

51. Paper Bag Whale

52. My Book of Colors

53. Stained Glass Paperbag

54. Letter Monster

55. Tinkerlab Challenge Rules

56. Paper Bag Chrysalides

57. Bird Nest

58. Paper Bag Museum

59. Paper Bag Hat

60. Paper Bag & Valentine Mail Box

61. Whats in the Bag?

62. Heart Lamp Shade Cover

63. Paper bag vines

64. Rubble – construction craft

65. Paper Bag Playground

66. I Lov U Sensory PaperBag

67. Paper Bag Turkey

68. Distressed Paper Bag Art

69. Paper bag vines

70. Paper bag Valentines card

71. mixed media valentine

72. printing on brown paper bags

73. paper bag gift tags

74. Lunchbag Gift Bag

75. Paper Bag Cheese

76. Sweet Little Heart Village

77. 4 Ways to Recycle Paper Bags

78. paper bag valentine lantern
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Do you have any creative ideas for paper bags? 

Visit Tinkerlab to join in on the fun.  Submit your idea to the Pinterest contest.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday Morning Science: Shadow Play

In Saturday Morning Science posts, I will be sharing science activities that you can do with your little ones with materials you most likely already have.  (Many of the activities you have seen before, but I think little reminders are always good.  I hope to share some new ideas, too!)  Children are naturally curious.  Letting them explore and discover the world around them helps build a foundation for future science learning.  {I got the name for Saturday Morning Science from a lecture series I used to attend at the University of Missouri.  On Saturday mornings, scientists share their research with the public in an hour long talk.}—————————————————————————–

random objects or toys
a blank wall

Play ideas:
Let your imagination run wild with this activity.  Shine the flashlight on the wall and place a toy in between the flashlight and the wall.  Point out the shadow to your little one.

Aiden got so excited to see the shadow shapes on the wall.

Don’t you love that little face?

We made shadows with our hands and feet, stuffed animals, shapes, toy cars, and toy horses.  We observed the silhouettes of our bodies.  We used big toys and small toys.  Aiden liked to make the stuffed animals dance.  You can also try shadow dancing with your little one yourself.

Hold a toy far away from the light (it will be small).

Bring the toy close to the light and watch it get bigger.

Questions to ask:

  • What makes a shadow?  {When something blocks the light, a shadow in the shape of the object is made.}
  • What happens when we bring something closer to the flashlight?  {The shadow gets bigger.}
  • What shape is on the wall?
Other ideas:
We also shined the flashlight through objects – the toy shapes and the puppets.  The light changed colors and we talked about the colors.

After having loads of fun playing and learning about shadows, we played hide and seek in the dark.  Patrick and I took turns hiding while Aiden looked for us with the flashlight.  We were still honing our science skills during the hide and seek festivities. We made observations and used our reasoning skills in order to search for someone.

 Go grab a flashlight and have some fun.
Throw in some science learning while you’re at it!

Science Sunday
Classified: Mom

Saturday Morning Science: Reindeer Edition

In Saturday Morning Science posts, I will be sharing science activities that you can do with your little ones with materials you most likely already have.  (Many of the activities you have seen before, but I think little reminders are always good.  I hope to share some new ideas, too!)  Children are naturally curious.  Letting them explore and discover the world around them helps build a foundation for future science learning.  {I got the name for Saturday Morning Science from a lecture series I used to attend at the University of Missouri.  On Saturday mornings, scientists share their research with the public in an hour long talk.}


Since today is Christmas Eve, I wanted the science to be Christmas focused.  Regardless of your opinion on Santa {read my thoughts here}, I thought learning about reindeer would be fun.  I’m going to share facts about reindeer with you.  Your job is to share the facts with your children.  You could also read books about reindeer.  You can do crafts about reindeer (I’ll include some links), and you could make a reindeer snack.

Source: via Trisha on Pinterest

{Information from the Smithsonian and the San Diego Zoo}

Reindeer live in the Arctic.
They eat mosses, herbs, ferns, grasses, shoots, and leaves.
In the winter, they eat lichen.
Reindeer are covered in hair from their nose to the bottom of their feet.  The hair traps air.  This gives them insulation to help keep them warm.
Reindeer are excellent swimmers!
Reindeer noses are designed to warm the cold air before it enters their body.
They have a great sense of smell.
Reindeer are most likely the same species as caribou.
Reindeer are smaller than caribou.
Reindeer were domesticated a long time ago.  Today they are herded by many people around the world.  They are used to pull sleds, and they are farmed for their meat, milk, and hides.

You can see live video of reindeer here.

Visit the Reindeer Barn at to read stories about Raymond the reindeer.

Reindeer Crafts

Lorie from Reading Confetti has created Santa and Reindeer Handprints.

Source: via Trisha on Pinterest

Another idea from Life in Motion Photography.

Source: via Trisha on Pinterest

I’m sure there’s tons more, but I think you get the idea.  Learn a little about reindeer, and enjoy your Christmas Eve!

Merry Christmas,

Aiden’s 2nd Birthday

Aiden’s 2nd birthday went like this:

  • Wake up to Mama singing Happy Birthday.
  • Eat blueberry muffins for breakfast.
  • Open first present (Cars t-shirt)
  • Play
  • Eat lunch
  • Play
  • Nap time (Cars t-shirt in the wash because it got soaked…)
  • Daddy wakes Aiden up for party (puts on Cars t-shirt again)
  • Aiden sees Cars banner and balloons – face lights up.
  • Eat pasta dinner.
  • Open some presents in front of Grandma and Pa on video chat.
  • Eat dark chocolate cupcakes iced with dark chocolate mousse.
  • Open more presents while video chatting with Maw Maw and Pa Pa and Aunt Heather and cousins.
  • Play with new trains for a few minutes.
  • Go to the zoo’s winter wonderland – ooh and aah over lights, train, and animals.
  • PJs on – play with trains.
  • Bedtime – request Happy Birthday.
  • Aiden stays awake in his bed for another hour singing “day, day, day” – his version of Happy Birthday.

And some pictures! {I love his faces!!}

babyI LOVE my sweet little boy!


Thanks for reading!

Making Cards with Toddler Art

Aiden loves to color.

I wanted to share his art with our family back in Missouri, but I didn’t just want to mail the coloring pages to them.  I thought it would be fun to incorporate his art into our Christmas cards!

I let Aiden color on several pages of cardstock – all different colors.  {We did this over several days – I’m not a mean mama who made him slave away in one sitting…}

Then, I cut out shapes with my Silhouette machine.

For some of the cards, I simply added a star to the inside of the card – a small touch of Aiden.

I also made a few using his coloring page as the main background.  I cut out different shapes and stamped ”Merry Christmas” on the outside.  I added some glitter for sparkly fun.


A nice message and bible verse is on the inside (and a few more cut out stars colored by Aiden).

I added one more picture on the back, a little stamp, and note saying the artwork was by Aiden.

I hope everyone likes their cards!

{I think I’ll save one for myself.}

Enjoying this Christmas season!  Much love,



Saturday Morning Science: Choose Your Own Adventure

In Saturday Morning Science posts, I will be sharing science activities that you can do with your little ones with materials you most likely already have.  (Many of the activities you have seen before, but I think little reminders are always good.  I hope to share some new ideas, too!)  Children are naturally curious.  Letting them explore and discover the world around them helps build a foundation for future science learning.  {I got the name for Saturday Morning Science from a lecture series I used to attend at the University of Missouri.  On Saturday mornings, scientists share their research with the public in an hour long talk.}


You know how much I love Pinterest, right?  Well, for today’s Saturday Morning Science Activity, I’m going to share a few science activities I’ve pinned.  Choose one {or more} to do with your little one!

Last week, I suggested mixing baking soda and vinegar together along with other kitchen chemistry ideas.  Jamie from Hands On: As We Grow took this idea one step further when she added color to the vinegar.  {She got the idea from someone who got the idea from Pinterest – lovely how that works, huh?}

Source: via Trisha on Pinterest

Try these fall sensory bins from Jill at A Mom with A Lesson Plan.

Source: via Trisha on Pinterest

How about a little physics?  Check out this cool ramps and chutes idea from Anna at The Imagination Tree.  {This is the one Aiden and I are doing today.}

Source: via Trisha on Pinterest

Make moon sand and cloud dough and compare the textures like Joyce from Dinosaurs and Octopuses {love that blog name btw}.

Source: via Trisha on Pinterest

You can check out more of the fun ideas I’ve pinned here. {I’m always adding more!}

Which activity will you choose?
What cool science activities do you have to share?

Thanks for reading!

Birthday Memories

This is a continuation from yesterday’s post where I talked about losing my first little one.
Read about it here.

My doctor wanted me to wait a month or two before trying again.
We only waited a month, I immediately got pregnant again.
I knew immediately that I was pregnant.
My body acted differently {just like it had with my first baby}.
I was not in denial the second time around.
I was excited and hopeful.

About 6 weeks in {again}, I had issues while at school.
I called my doctor’s office and they said go to OB triage.
{I ran into one of my friend’s in the hallway – I had to track her down to ask her to teach my class – she didn’t know I was pregnant again, but of course she said go, go, I’ll take care of everything – the benefits of teaching the exact same thing as your peers.}
They ran the blood tests – hormone levels were fine.
The doctor scheduled an ultrasound for that day – she thought I might be far enough along to see the heartbeat.
This time they could see the gestational sac {no doubt I was pregnant},
but no heartbeat.
They thought it was just a bit early and probably didn’t mean anything bad.
Needless to say, I was worried.
More blood tests a day or so later – hormone levels rising – good sign.
Another ultrasound {at 7 weeks} showed the heartbeat. {Relief.}
I think it’s kinda cool that you can see the heartbeat {fetal pole} before you can hear it.

The rest of my pregnancy went fine.

Aiden was due on December 29, 2009.

He decided that he wanted to come early.
My waters broke on December 8th as I was climbing into bed.
{I had just finished grading a lot of papers and still had more to finish, but I was done.}

I know they always say that when your waters break, you’ll know.
Well, that’s an understatement and a half!
And, of course, I wasn’t contracting.
They let me wait until morning to see if I would start contracting on my own.
I did but they were pitiful – no enough.
So, I was induced.
I did not want to be induced – I knew thing would not go well.
And I was right.
Aiden was in distress, so they had to stop the contractions.
The medicine that stops contractions made all of my muscles convulse.
I was spent.
I had planned on using no pain medication or epidural.
But my worst fear was having to be forced into an epidural or spinal
because they had to do a Cesarean.
At that point, I was exhausted
and knew I didn’t have much time before they were going to do an Cesarean.
I had already been there for 14 hours – they weren’t going to let me go for more than 24.
I gave in.
I got the epidural.
I got some sleep while they started the induction again.
They finally figured out that Aiden had the cord wrapped around his neck twice.
He needed to come out quickly.  {After 19 1/2 hours, I wasn’t sure what quickly meant!}
Long story short shorter, Aiden came out blue.
That child worried me at the start of the pregnancy and at the end!

It’s hard to believe he will be two!
I thank God every day for my little one.
He is such a blessing.

Happy Birthday, Aiden!

{Below are a couple of pictures from two weeks ago – it’s the first time he ever painted. He asks to paint all the time now.}

Thanks for reading!

Birthday and Remembering a Loss

Tomorrow is Aiden’s 2nd birthday!
I’m so excited about that.
We have a party planned for just the 3 or us,
then we’re going to the zoo for the night time Winter Wonderland.
Aiden will LOVE it.

But, I also remember the little one that we lost.
Patrick and I were married for 9 1/2 years before we decided it was time to have a baby.
In February 2009, I found out I was pregnant.
I was actually in a bit of denial {even though I wanted a baby so badly}.
It happened immediately and it seemed too good to be true.
I even waited a while to take the pregnancy test.
It was positive, so I called my doctor and made an appointment.
She confirmed what I already knew –
we were going to have a little bundle of joy in October!

And then something terrible happened.
On February 14 {that’s right Valentine’s Day},
I lost our little baby.
We were at a friend’s house, and I wasn’t feeling very well.
I had a fever and was just miserable.
I went to the bathroom and was shocked by the blood.
I had no idea what to do.
I just started crying.
I, of course, feared the worst.
I was only 6 weeks along – what could be done?
I called one of my other friends.
She told me to call the nurse’s line.
They got me in contact with the OB doctor on call.
I think we decided to wait a day to see what happens.
{There’s nothing you can do at 6 weeks is all she could tell me.}
I talked to her the next day, and she had me meet her at OB triage.
They took blood and checked for hormone levels.
The next step was to go to my doctor a couple days later
{don’t really remember how many – it’s all kind of a blur}
for more blood tests to see if my hormone levels were rising or lowering.
I honestly don’t remember the results,
but my doctor sent me to get an ultrasound.

Here’s the worst part {I think it’s the part that hurts the most}:
the ultrasound tech said there was no evidence of a baby at all.
Apparently, that was supposed to comfort me.
Like, oh, you weren’t pregnant, so no need to worry about it.
But it didn’t comfort me – at all.

My doctor disagreed.
She said my hormone levels were such that I was pregnant.
{Not sure if she was just telling me that to comfort me or not}.
Regardless, I know there was a little life growing inside of me.
He’s now in heaven, and I’ll see him one day again.

I really struggled with why this happened.
I questioned God a lot.
The only answer I kept getting was, “Do you trust me?”
Well, of course, I trust You, Lord, but I still don’t understand.

I had started a Beth Moore bible study in February called,
Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman.
The first week, we had to list reasons it was tough being a woman.
I honestly had a hard time coming up with a list.
I was thinking – my life’s not hard – I like my life.
Then, February 14th happened,
and the bible study made so much more sense.
Losing my baby was the worst thing that has ever happened to me in my entire life.
God knew the bible study was exactly what I needed at the time.
It was a study on the book of Esther,
which is now one of my favorite books in the Bible.
{Oh, btw, I just found out that Beth Moore has a blog, so I’m totally subscribing.}
God made sure I had help during my time of sorrow.
The bible study helped me.  It forced me to talk to God about it and me.
I think my faith was strengthened because of the whole ordeal.
I still don’t know exactly why this happened,
but I have been able to minister to people because of it.

If you have lost a little one and are wanting ways to remember,
take a look at the ideas from Small Bird Studios.
Franchesca has put together the 12 Days of Christmas with You in Heaven.
A group of wonderful ladies are sharing ideas for how to remember our little ones.

12 days

I want to share the story of my second pregnancy, but I will do that tomorrow.

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8 NIV
{Beth Moore shared this verse.  It is an awesome reminder to just love – always love.}

Much love,logo

P.S. Don’t forget about the giveaway that ends today!


Nap Time Treasures

One of my favorite things to do with Aiden is to curl up and read a few books.
We do this randomly – whenever he wants.
But we also read before nap time.
{Patrick reads to Aiden at night time.}
Aiden chooses a few books – 3, 6, whatever.
We sit in the rocking chair in his room and just read for awhile
getting lost in the stories
spending time together just the two of us.

After reading, I get hugs and kisses.
Aiden climbs into his little toddler bed.
I cover him up with his blankets.
And then, I sing to him.
He requests songs now –
I used to just sing one or two songs.
Now he asks me to sing 4 or 5 songs.
He requests
“grace” {Amazing Grace},
“baby {Hush, Little Baby},
“sunshine” {You are My Sunshine},
“trees” {the chorus of the Beautiful Trees song from Sid the Science Kid},
and “twinkle” {Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star}.

“Good night, Aiden.  Sleep well.  I’ll see you when you wake up.”
“Night, night, Mama!  Mama, night, night!”

And then there are the days {like yesterday}
that he refuses to take a nap.
He gets up and plays instead.
These days are pretty rare, but they usually end up something like this:

Aiden fell asleep in the car while we were running errands before dinner.
He didn’t wake up when I took him out of the car.
I put him down on the couch while I made dinner.
Sweet little boy.

I know nap time will be gone one day.
Aiden and I will still make time for just the two of us.
But for now, I treasure our nap time.

What do you treasure today? 


Thanks for reading!