Our Favorite Books for Learning

Hello all! It has been a while since my last “favorite books” post! This time around, I want to highlight our favorite books for learning. These books have great pictures, simple words, and are a huge hit with our little boy.

In most cases, these aren’t books that we “read” to him. At least not in the traditional sense. Instead, we sit together and talk about the pictures that we see. This is an excellent opportunity for us to introduce new, and more specific language to our little guy. Oftentimes he loves just sitting and perusing the pages on his own, too! You’ll notice that many of the books are published by Priddy Books. They create some of the most beautiful picture books, overflowing with language. Here are a few of our favorites:

My Big Animal Book (My Big Board Books) This book is full of large, colorful pictures of all types of animals. This was one of our sons first favorites.





First 100 Words This book is small, and great for tiny hands! It features a number of different images of animals, clothing, emotions, cars, etc.






My Big Dinosaur Book This is our newest addition to our picture book collection! This features images of all different types of dinosaurs. I think some of the pictures are a little creepy or scary, but our little munchkin just loves it!




My Little Picture Dictionary We received this as a hand-me-down from my niece. Our son will sit and read through this book over, and over again. He points at and identifies most of the pictures now, independently!




Alphaprints: Colors This is yet another new addition to the collection, and it is my favorite of the bunch. This book creatively uses fingerprints in conjunction with everyday items, to create the animals and scenery throughout the book. And it focuses on colors, which is what we are learning at the moment!



A Is for Apple (Trace-and-Flip Fun!) (Smart Kids Trace-and-Flip) We love this book so much that we are going to have to buy a new one! Some of the pop-up pieces are now missing. This book is great for learning letters, and some basic beginning words.

I am hoping to expand our collection of picture books soon. Do you have any favorite books for learning? Share in the comment section, below!


DIY No Soliciting Sign

Recently, we have had many people ringing our doorbell.  As we have hail damage repaired on our house, our doorbell is constantly ringing—contractors , roofers, siding guys, window repairmen, you name it. Then add in the storm chasing contractors, the local milkman, the neighbor’s painter, and magazine salesman…it seems like our doorbell is always ringing. Normally this wouldn’t really be a problem, but it tends to happen most often during my son’s nap time. If you have been following my blog at all, you know that we take sleep seriously around here because it is incredibly rare.

So, I decided to make a Shhhh/No Soliciting sign for our front door. I had been shopping around for the perfect sign, but hadn’t really found what I was looking for, so I made one! This was one of the easiest DIY projects I have done, and I really like how it turned out! You can make your own DIY No Soliciting Sign in one afternoon, for about $10.


What You Need

Pre-made blank wooden sign (they have these at any local craft store)

Wooden Pencil

Ballpoint Pen

Printed template (which you can make on your computer)

Paint Marker in color of your choice


Make It

Step One

The first thing you want to do is design your sign on the computer. I used Microsoft Word, and downloaded some cute new fonts. Make sure you select a font that will be wide enough, and simple enough that you can use your paint pen to fill in the lettering (wide, clean lines are best).

Step Two

Once you create your desired layout and wording,  print it out on computer paper. I used regular computer paper. Nothing fancy.

Step Three

Cut your paper into more manageable pieces. This will help you to align your lettering on the sign. If you want to make sure your words are written in a straight line, try not to separate them!

Step Four

Select one of your words/phrases, and flip the paper over, so the print side is down. Use a pencil to shade in the entire area where the word is written (remember, you will be doing this on the back side of the paper). A wooden pencil works best for this.

Flip the paper back over, so the print side is facing up. Position the paper on the sign, where you’d like to transfer the lettering. Once you are sure of the positioning, you can use tape to secure the paper in place. Pressing firmly, use a ball point pen to trace the outline of the word onto the sign. Double check that the word transferred before completely removing the paper, as you may need to trace it once more.

Continue this process until you have transferred all lettering onto your sign.

Use your paint pen to fill in the outline. This takes time, and patience. Try to use short, light strokes to ensure that the paint stays within the lines!

And that is it! A few dollars and a few hours, and you have a personalized DIY No Soliciting sign!


April Goal: Eating Mindfully

April Goal

April is here and it’s time to begin work on this month’s goal: eating mindfully. Here is the thing… I’m not looking to go on a diet, and this isn’t necessarily to lose weight (although that would be a great consequence). Instead I’m hoping to make a major lifestyle change.


If you have been reading my blog for a while now, you know that I am an emotional/stress eater. It used to be an issue only on occasion, but now I find that it’s a constant struggle. Every day I want to indulge, usually in the form of endless Mexican food and sweet treats. And my body is paying for it. My skin is terrible, my weight is higher than I’d like, and I just feel terrible. I’m tired of trying to make changes, only to fall right off the wagon, leaving me feeling stressed out, defeated and disgusting.

2017 goals

My Plan:

In hopes of making a lasting change, a recently purchased the book The Mindful Diet: How to Transform Your Relationship with Food for Lasting Weight Loss and Vibrant Health Don’t let the title fool you, it’s really not a diet at all. Instead, the book takes the reader through a series of activities to learn to change how we eat, why we eat and what we eat.  In other words, it focuses on eating mindfully. This month I’ll be completing the exercises and updating you along the way, reflecting on the book, and the process.

At the same time, I’ll continue working on my March goal of creating a lasting fitness habit. I hope to go to the gym and/or run at least five days a week! Thanks to my hubby, I have a nice, new jogging stroller to help me meet my goal, now that the weather is warming up!

#2017ProjectChange, Uncategorized

March Wrap Up: Establishing a Fitness Habit

As March comes to a close, so does my March goal of establishing a fitness habit. I am a bit disappointed in myself. I didn’t adhere to my weekly goals as I had hoped. I didn’t go to the gym four times each week. I didn’t establish a consistent gym habit, yet. But this month hasn’t been a total loss.

Good Things Happened

  • I have begun going to the gym more often…at least twice a week. This is progress. And progress is good, right?
  • My little munchkin is getting more and more accustomed to going to the gym’s day care. He no longer cries, but hasn’t yet branched out to playing with the other kiddos. This is a big deal!

A Surprising Outcome

My greatest accomplishment this month, however, is a bit of a surprise. I have always wanted to be a runner. Always. And I have tried, and failed, time and time again. A while back I purchased the Couch to 5K app, which helps you to gradually work toward running a 5K in six weeks.  I have tried to complete the program more times than I can count, but I have never really been successful, quitting long before I reach the end of week six.  I hated it. I was miserable. So I always quit.

This time around, something has changed. As I near the end of week six, I have come to enjoy running. I haven’t slept much (in 18 months), my nutrition is crap, and I have been feeling a bit more stressed than normal. But, somehow, I find running to be easier than it has ever been, and I have really come to love my time on the treadmill. Finally.

Moving Forward

So, even though I didn’t establish my initial goal for the month, I have made some great strides (pun intended) on my fitness journey. As we begin April, I am going to continue focusing on developing a more consistent fitness habit, and I will be focusing on eating better as well! In preparation for my April goal, I am reading (and loving) The Mindful Diet: How to Transform Your Relationship with Food for Lasting Weight Loss and Vibrant Health, as I hope to tackle emotional/stress eating, for good! Stay tuned!


This Beautiful Life

Life Lately

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how motivated you are or how well planned your week is…life happens. It feels as though March has been nothing but a series of curveballs, one after another: a sleepless baby, a computer with one foot in the grave, and random snowstorm. I simply haven’t stuck to my goals this month as I had hoped. I’m feeling motivated and discouraged all at the same time. But I’m not ready to give up. Tomorrow is a new day, and I’m ready to get back on track.

But life hasn’t been a total disaster. Here is a glimpse into life over the last few weeks

We had fun playing games at The Summit!

We spotted this HUGE owl at our local Lowes garden center!

Daddy bought the little man his own grocery basket, and he LOVES it!

He REALLY love it! 

We went on a few long walks, and the little guy was fascinated by the bunnies and ducks we saw along the way!

And then…we had a lovely blizzard. Gotta love Colorado weather!

Here is to a better, more productive week!


March Fitness Habit: Making Progress and Facing Obstacles

We are about half way through March, and I am two weeks into my goal of re-establishing a fitness habit. Let me tell you something. This is hard. The workouts themselves are not the hard part. I love being in the gym, running and lifting weights.  I am beginning to feel like myself again. Instead, But, I’m struggling with a never ending barrage of obstacles and issues.

For his entire seventeen months of life, my son has spent 99% of his time with either myself or my husband present. Needless to say, taking him to the kid’s club has been a tough change for us all. My son hasn’t adjusted yet, and can get pretty upset when I drop him off. Our gym is well known for their caring, attentive program, and there are monitors so I can see him. But knowing that he is sad breaks my heart.

The combination of his gym experience, teething and the time change mean some crazy sleep issues for our family. We are often up for extended periods throughout the night (1am to 5am), as our munchkin just fights his sleep. Needless to say I am exhausted. My husband is exhausted. Our baby is exhausted. But we will continue working toward our goals.

I continue to go to the gym as planned, to focus on my fitness habit, and to help my munchkin get more comfortable.  I also continue to struggle with my choice. It feels pretty selfish to take him to the gym, just so I can work out, knowing that he is sad. At the same time, I have to make sure I am well so that I can be the best wife and mommy I can be.  Last week I went to the gym four times, and accomplished my goal! This week is off to a rocky start since I didn’t go to the gym this weekend, but I hope to make up for the lost day, along the way.


Five Unique Baby Shower Gifts

Do you have a friend or family member who is expecting? Are you looking for an alternative to the typical baby shower gifts? Here are five unique baby shower gifts that any new mommy will appreciate!

*These are not paid endorsements. Just sharing some things I love.

A Costco Membership

A membership to Costco may seem like an odd gift for a mommy-to-be, but I can promise you that it’s one of the best gifts. Costco has excellent prices on diapers, and you can buy them in huge quantities. My son currently wears size 4 diapers. For $42.99 we received 180 diapers. That is just under $.24 per diaper. They also offer baby wipes in bulk. For $19.99 we received a year’s supply. Costco often has sales on these items as well, and they deliver to your home, for free.


Texture is a digital magazine app that gives the subscriber access to hundreds of different digital magazines (Parents, Oprah, Clean Eating, etc.) for a monthly fee of $15. Why on earth would this be a good gift? Chances are, the new mommy will spend lots of time snuggling, rocking and feeding her little one. And, in the first few weeks, there will be some serious downtime. It’s so nice to have so much reading material in the palm of your hand!

Food Delivery

Gift cards to restaurants that deliver, or restaurant delivery services, like GrubHub make for an awesome gift. Once the family brings their little one home, there is a good chance that they won’t have the time, energy or ability to cook. And fast food isn’t the best option. A gift card for food delivery will be a godsend for both mommy and daddy!

Snack Box Delivery

New mommies, especially nursing mommies, need to find time to nourish themselves throughout the day. A subscription to a snack box like Graze Box means that mommy will have a box full of convenient, yummy, healthy snacks delivered to her house on a regular basis.

Grocery Delivery

If the expectant parents love to cook, then a delivery service like Blue Apron may be a great option. Providing them with a few weeks of grocery delivery could make preparing delicious dinners more convenient!


Stuff my Toddler Would Rather Play With

I know this isn’t news to someone who already has children, but I find it fascinating how little interest our 18 month old shows in his brightly colored, fun, interactive toys. He’d much rather play with all of the things that are not toys at all, and those things he is not supposed to touch. Here are just a few of little man’s favorite things:

Remote Controls

From a very early age, the little guy has loved remote controls. He frequently steals them, and intently pushes buttons as he aims at the television. In the process he has reset our wifi settings, changed the display settings and recorded numerous, odd infomercials and religious programming. Add cell phones and video game controllers to the list, too.

Toilet Paper

He loves taking long pieces of toilet paper from the bathroom and tearing them into tiny pieces as he wanders the house!

Couch Cushions

While he has a play tunnel and a play house, he’s much rather take the cushions from the couch to climb on!


I used to subscribe to Birchbox. For a while, he would sit and intently examine each of the bottles, tubes and applicators in each box. Eventually we had to put an end to this to avoid choking and disastrous messes.

Mommy’s Purse

This is especially fun at his brother’s basketball games. it doesn’t matter how many action figures I bring, he insists on taking everything out of mommy’s purse and handing the items to those sitting nearby.

Wallets and Credit Cards

My husband ended up putting together a wallet full of empty gift cards, so that the little guy could have a wallet of his own.

Dryer Sheets

I’m not sure if it is the texture or the transparency, but any time he finds a dryer sheet, he wanders the room using it to “clean.”

Mixing Bowls and Lids

This little boy now has his own set of mixing bowls in his play area. They serve as hats, mountains, and receptacles for all kinds of junk. In the kitchen, he really enjoys playing with the collection of lids, as well.


The more expensive, the better. He also enjoys daddy’s Microsoft band and mommy’s Apple Watch.

The Broom and Mop

Our little guy loves to grab the broom and “help!” And I can’t mop the floor without his help! I only hope this enthusiastic assistance continues into his teens!

What types of quirky things do your kids love to play with?


March Fitness Habits…Starting Off on the Wrong Foot

We are only six days into March, and my March goal of establishing more consistent fitness habits. I have to be honest, I definitely started off on the wrong foot.  At this point I should have gone to the gym three times, and I have gone only once.

I am not sure if my reasons for not making it to the gym are just excuses, or legitimate reasons. On Tuesday night, our sweet, teething little munchkin was up all night. No, really. All night. From 10:30 pm to 3:30 am. My husband and I went into Wednesday with about three hours of sleep under our belts. There was just no way that I could function at the gym. Getting through the day was going to be a challenge as it was.

I am also struggling to take the little guy to the gym. We went last Monday, and he had a tough time. We were only there for about thirty minutes, but when I picked him up from the kids club, his eyes were red from crying. Its tough to balance doing what is best for the little guy, and finding time to take care of myself.

This doesn’t mean I am giving up, of course. I am going to give it another try this week, starting with a trip to the gym in the morning. It is time. I only hope that, next Monday, I have some progress to report!

What tips and tricks to you have for getting yourself to the gym? And, how to you help your little one learn to enjoy the gym’s childcare center? Your tips, tricks and strategies are welcome!

This Beautiful Life

Life Lately

It was a busy but quiet week, if that even makes sense. Thank goodness it is Friday!

I know I have been sharing a lot of activities we’ve found for the little guy to keep him busy on cold, windy winter days. Another big hit has been finger painting. It is messy as can be, but he seemed to love it! I put him in the center of our island with paper and a plate full of paint and let him have at it! And then…he gets a bath.

The munchkin has been experimenting with climbing, a lot. He tries to climb on everything. So, we took some of the couch cushions off of the couch in our family room, and created a makeshift jungle gym. He couldn’t get enough.

And then he started giving my husband this face…we think it’s the, “Come and get me” face. 

This week, little man got to pick out a few books to check out from the library. He happily chose three books, all of which were pretty appropriate for his attention span! He couldn’t wait for daddy to get home, so he could show him what he got!

That’s it for this week! Have a great weekend!