Friday, September 11, 2020

Yoko {Book Summary + Letter Activity}


The Book: Yoko by Rosemary Wells. A book about a little kitty named Yoko who loves sushi. At lunchtime at her school, Yoko quickly realizes her classmates think her food is gross. So her teacher steps in and a classmate soon discovers sushi might not be so bad after all!

The Activity: Matching letters in our name to letters in foods using dotters
  • Start by finding some pictures of food (from a magazine, grocery ad, stickers, etc) Place these items on a blank page and spell out each food item leaving a little space between each letter.
  • Give your child something to identify the letters in the food that are the same as in their name. We used dotters because they are fun, but they could underline or even circle the letters instead
  • We also took time to talk about the importance of our words and respecting others who might enjoy things that we don’t (“Don’t yuck on someone else’s yum.”
If you want to see videos of this activity in action (and more activities like it) follow me on Instagram or Facebook! And if you like this activity, please pin it to Pinterest!

I Like Myself! {Book Summary + Activity}

The Book: I Like Myself! By Karen Beaumont. A book about a little girl who is determined to love herself no matter what. No matter what people say or if she has purple polka dotted lips, she knows who she is on the inside and loves herself. A perfect book for the beginning of the school year and for teaching self affirmations! ❤️ (See a preview in the COMMENTS!)
The Activity: Uniquely you (name/letter recognition and positive self talk)

  • Write your child’s name in big letters on a piece of paper
  • Set out some small items and glue for child to decorate the letters of their name! I used a bag of sequins I got on Amazon and some small stickers. They could also use paint, markers, dotters—>whatever you have on hand.
  • Make sure to go over each letter and sound in their name as they are working
  • I also had my boys share what they love about themselves and then we looked in the mirror and said nice things to ourselves as I know the importance of self affirmation especially at the beginning of something new (like the school year!)

If you want to see videos of this activity in action (and more activities like it) follow me on Instagram or Facebook! And if you like this activity, please pin it to Pinterest!

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Freight Train {Book Summary + Freight Train Sponge Stamps}

The Book: Freight Train by Donald Crews. Follow a colorful freight train on it’s journey through tunnels, over bridges until it is going, going...gone. Simple words and fun illustrations make this a great book for all the train lovers.

The Activity: Sponge stamping to create your own freight train (inspired by @buggyandbuddy)

  • Start by cutting 3 rectangular sponges in half so you have 6 total sponges, one for each color. (We chose to only use one shade of blue.) Set out a few paper plates with the paint on them.
  • Have your child use the sponges as stamps and re-create the freight train from the story.
  • Use a marker to connect the train cars when the paint has dried.
  • After my kids made their train I let them have full artistic creativity over their next creations. My five year old made his next train fast and blurry like one of the illustrations. I love allowing them artistic freedom to see what they do.

If you want to see videos of this activity in action follow me on Instagram or Facebook! And if you like this activity, please pin it to Pinterest!

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Ruby the Copycat {Book Summary + Copycat activity}

The Book: Ruby the Copycat by Peggy Rathmann. A book about Ruby, the new girl in class who just want to fit she becomes a copycat. Things don’t work out quite as she expected and Ruby learns the importance of being true to who you are.

The Activity: Copycat!
  • Start by grabbing a baking sheet or round cake pan and adding some flour to it.
  • Make a few cards with letters, numbers, words or shapes you want your child to COPY.
  • Show your child one card at a time and have them copy what is on the card using the flour. And then repeat!
  • To add some interest, write out a few actions on your cards to have them copy. (Bark like a dog, jump like a bunny, fly like a bird, etc.) Then let them make up their own unique drawings in the flour or actions for you to try!
If you want to see videos of this activity in action follow me on Instagram or Facebook! And if you like this activity, please pin it to Pinterest!

Thursday, August 13, 2020

I'm A Dirty Dinosaur {Book Summary + Dirty Dino, Clean Dino Activity}


The Book: I’m A Dirty Dinosaur by Janeen Brian and Ann James. A book about a dinosaur who just loves mud. He adds mud to his head, then his face, belly, etc and has fun rhythm and repeating words making this a great story for acting out!

The Activity: Dirty Dino—>Clean Dino
  • Start by having your kids help you make chocolate pudding (and try not to eat it all).
  • Grab two plastic bins and some plastic figurines (we used dinosaurs to go with the book, but you could use any toy that will easily wipe clean)
  • Fill the first bin with chocolate pudding (the mud) and fill the second bin with water. (I recommend doing this activity outdoors as it is messy!)
  • Read the story and have your kids act out the story as you read it. When the Dino has finally had enough of being dirty, have your child put their Dirty Dinosaurs in the water (the swamp) to get clean!
*And if you want to add this book to your collection, you can shop this book from my Usborne site, click here: Shop Usborne!

If you want to see videos of this activity in action follow me on Instagram or Facebook! And if you like this activity, please pin it to Pinterest!

Growing Vegetable Soup {Book Summary + Soup Sensory bins}

The Book: Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert. A book about a family who plants vegetables in their garden and then takes care of them together so that they can turn their vegetables into soup.

The Activity: “Making” Vegetable Soup sensory bins

  • Grab a bin or basket to use as your “garden.” Fill with dried beans (or anything you have for a sensory bin filler: crushed cereal, rice, whatever!
  • Grab some fake fruits and veggies (or draw some, cut them out and throw them in) and put them in the container you chose. Add in some other items if you have some: small shovels, gardening gloves, bugs, grocery bag, watering can, etc)
  • Grab a big cooking pot and some kitchen tools (wooden spoons, empty seasoning containers, ladles, etc)
  • Read the story and have your kids pretend to grow the soup and then make and “eat” the soup!
If you want to see videos of this activity in action follow me on Instagram or Facebook! And if you like this activity, please pin it to Pinterest!

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Let's Play {Book Summary + Line Activity}

Let's Play Activity

The Book: Let’s Play! by Herve Tullet. An interactive book that takes you on a fun journey with a dot. (Check out his other dot books: Press Here and Say Zoop!)
The Activity: Learning Types of Lines and creating patterns
  • Go over the different kinds of lines that the DOTS played on in the book (straight, wavy, curly, zig zag, dotted)
  • Have your child practice drawing different kinds of lines for their DOTS to travel on.
  • Have them peel colored dot stickers and place them on their lines. You could also encourage the creation of patterns, create one for them and have them finish it, etc. So many different ways to play with lines and patterns with this book!

If you want to see videos of this activity in action follow me on Instagram or Facebook! And if you like this activity, please pin it to Pinterest!
Let's Play! Activity

Pout Pout Fish {Book Summary + Activity}

The Book: The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen. A book about a fish who thinks life is just glum until he meets a friend who makes him see his potential. He wasn’t made for pouting...there is more to life!

The Activity: Bubble stamping and interactive Pout-Pout fish for a story retelling

  • I did this activity over the course of two days so depending on the ages of your kids you can split up these activities.
  • I used toilet paper rolls as stamps (always save them for crafts!) And had my kids dip them in paint and stamp on paper to look like bubbles for our oceans
  • I did my best to draw the Pout-Pout fish and did not draw a mouth on my fish. I drew the mouth separate and cut out both pieces and grabbed a push pin.
  • Cut a small slit where the the fish’s mouth should go and use the push pin to attach the mouth. (This way the mouth can move from a frown to a smile.) Next read the book and have your kids turn the pout to a smile at the end of the book! Have them retell the story to you and act it out.

If you want to see videos of this activity in action follow me on Instagram or Facebook! And if you like this activity, please pin it to Pinterest!

Nestful of Books {A new adventure}


It has been a while friends! I am coming out of blog hibernation to start sharing some simple activities that go along with some of my favorite children's books. I know we are living in some weird and wild times (especially those of us who are also parenting right now!) so the former teacher in me has been reignited and I wanted to do something to inspire some creativity in myself and also to provide some resources to those of you who are trying to keep little hands busy right now! 

I would love for you to follow along if this interests you. (I am also on Instagram and Facebook) I will still be throwing in some life updates here and there about my little boy tribe, but this page has always been a creative outlet for me so I am happy to be coming home to it and sharing some ideas that I hope will be helpful to you. So hello blog world. Now I am off to catch up on about 1 million posts from you all!

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

2019: Year in Review

2019 was a joy-filled year for the Renner crew. I know a lot of people truly despised 2019 and were so glad to see it go, but for us, it was an incredible year. I know not every year is a year you want to hold on to forever so I am praising God for this incredibly sweet season and want to remember all of it's goodness.


We started off our year with the excitement and anticipation of a new baby! We didn't have to fix up a nursery, but we did start prepping Aiden's room to add Alder by adding bunkbeds. Aiden started sleeping on the top bunk to get used to it and he did great! I thought for sure that August would arrive before his due date and before our scheduled induction, but he stayed put, which was very nice for this Type A Mama. We had a big snow that we all enjoyed, then Alder fell on the playground at church and had to get stitches in his lip just days before August's arrival. That was a long and exhausting day, but he was a trooper and has a cute little battle wound on his lower lip.

I worked my last day at my job, which was bitter sweet, but that means my role changed this month to STAY AT HOME MOM! August came quickly on January 25th and all our hearts grew and we were instantly smitten. A few days after August's arrival, Alder turned 2 and we celebrated with a superhero party and pizza with our family. January was a BIG month for our family and a perfect way to kickstart the year.


Drew got a glorious three weeks of paid time off so we enjoyed February thoroughly! There was lots of fort building, the creation of a rocket ship out of cardboard, lots of kisses for August, lots of family walks and adjusting to our lives as a family of five. We also had lots of special visitors who were anxious to meet August! It was a very sweet time for our family and was so nice to all be together as we learned how to be a family of five.


We took our first road trip as a family of five in our new Ford Transit and went to visit my Aunt and Uncle in Michigan. My Uncle works for Ford so he took us to the Ford Rogue factory where the boys got to see real cars on the production line! We also went to the Henry Ford Museum and got to visit my Uncle's office at Ford. Our car-loving boys loved this trip and August was a champ and slept through most of it. At the end of the month, we spent a day on the farm and Aiden and Alder got to ride horses and be "real cowboys."


April brought sunshine and lots of park play dates. Drew started working on building the boys a playground in our backyard and we spent a few days at an AirBnB on the river with my family after my cousin's wedding. We all celebrated Easter together there and had a sweet time together with a gorgeous view of the river.  I also started reading books again and heard August laugh out loud for the first time!


We had both Alder and August dedicated at church on Mother's day. It was a very sweet day! The other big event of May was the opening of our community pool! We spent many summer days there! Drew also finished the playground and we had some neighbors over for the "grand opening."


We had our annual Rootbeer stand date with our friends to kick off summer vacation. Went to several Touch a trucks, lots of park play dates. Celebrated Father's day at the Red's game (Alder's first time and Aiden's second time at the ballpark). Drew accepted a new job this month as well, which included a pay raise, which we were extremely thankful for. I turned 34 this month and had a wonderful day. Lunch with my Mom, a family hike and Toy Story 4. I read a few more books and went with my friend Alison to Charm at the Farm.


We celebrated the 4th of July in our cute little downtown, got spoiled with free box seats (and unlimited free food) at the Reds game with our dear friends, visited the Air Force Museum and took another road trip to Nashville. We visited the Storybook houses at Cheekwood Gardens with our cousins and had a sweet time visiting together. Drew and I also celebrated 10 whole years of marriage and I got to go to Indy for a girl's (and August) trip. Our little baby also turned 6 months old.


I helped host a bridal shower for my sister in law in Columbus this month, we made more visits to parks and got lots of visits from the Ice cream man. We spent a lot of time at the pool since both boys were not able to go down the "big" slides by themselves. Alder rocked potty training and spent his last night sleeping in his crib to make room for baby brother. It was a very big month for this kid! He handled all of the transitions so well.


August started sleeping through the night in his own crib and got fitted for a helmet to round out his sweet little head. Aiden had his last first day of preschool this month and started soccer! We went to our first football game in Drew's new school district, had a blast with family at Kings Island where Aiden rode his first roller coaster and then went on to ride it 5 more times. (We then decided we were going to have to invest in passes for Christmas.) We started our celebration of fall early by Apple picking and the boys helped me bake an apple pie with our apples. Drew officiated his sister's wedding and the boys were the cutest ring bearers. We had a lovely day celebrating and I got a new brother in law. While there were many things to celebrate this month, we also lost my sweet grandma, Junebug. She went to be with Jesus very peacefully after living a very fully life. I'm so thankful she got to meet all three of my boys. We will miss her presence terribly, but are thankful for the influence she had on my life.


We started our Halloween (and Aiden's birthday) countdown and did a halloween themed activity almost every day! Lots of costumes and visits to pumpkin patches and lots of "spooky" books were read. We pulled off my favorite family costumes to date and dressed up as the Peanuts Gang (Totally Aiden's idea!) Aiden was the Great Pumpkin, Alder was Linus, August was Snoopy, Drew was Charlie Brown and I was Lucy. We also celebrated Aiden's 5th birthday that same night with the coolest and most spooky cake ever made by my Mother in law and Sister in law.


We spent our Thanksgiving with my family in South Bend at Camp Raybird, where my sister works and my brother in law is the Director. We had the whole camp to ourselves and all bunked up in the camp lodge. We used the lodge kitchen to cook our meals, the guys got to go hunting and the kids got to hike and climb on the rock wall! We had so much fun just doing life together in the lodge! We also took the boys to see Frozen 2 and started our countdown to Christmas with a fully decorated house.


December was full of holiday themed activities both at home and out and about. We drank lots of hot chocolate, had another countdown (of course!), did lots of baking and made cookies for our neighbors, watched lots of Christmas movies, visited the zoo lights and Winterfest, had a snowy play day and rode on the Polar Express! August loved all the Christmas lights and dancing with his brothers to the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack. We had lots of fun celebrating with our families and felt so blessed and thankful to wrap up the best year together!

Friday, January 3, 2020

August's Birth Story

August Terrence Renner.
The story of the day my little sunshine baby was born.

Friday, January 25th 2019. I woke up to a cold morning, small snow flakes dancing in the sunshine out my window. We had been anxiously waiting for this day. We woke up knowing we would be welcoming a new baby in to our family! My induction had been scheduled for a week and a half because of how things went with my delivery with Alder (quickly) and I was already pretty far progressed, but we thought August would come on his own since everything about him was not quite according to our plans. A week earlier there was a lunar eclipse and a super moon. I thought he was coming that night, but he graciously waited until my Mother in law could be back in town and my Mom was over a cold so they could both help with the big boys and so we could have everything settled and ready.

At 10 am we took one last picture as a family of 4 and then Drew and I loaded up the car and waved to Aiden and Alder out the window as we pulled away. Being induced is just such a different experience from actually going in to labor. No rushing around or panic. No having to hurry and make a plan for the kids. Drew compared it to going to pick out a piece of furniture. You want a couch, you go purchase one and come home with said couch. Induction is similar. A baby is coming, you go to the hospital and have it and come home with said baby. This was my third induction so we were not complaining about being able to calmly say bye to our boys, have someone we trust to watch them, etc.

We arrived at the hospital and checked in at 11, I was hooked up to pitocin by 12:30. Then we waited. Drew went and got lunch in the cafeteria, I ate a popsicle and blissfully listened to August's steady heartbeat on the monitor and tried to soak everything in knowing it would be the last time I would experience the wonder of childbirth. The nurse came back in and broke my water at 1 and things started happening after that.

My contractions started picking up and the plan for me was always to get an epidural, but I wanted to wait on the epidural until I felt I absolutely had to have it. There's just something about feeling the pain of contractions, knowing you are that much closer to meeting your baby. I felt like i needed to "work for it" at least a little bit (as if carrying the baby for 9 months wasn't work enough). I bounced on the ball for a while and walked around the room, rolled on some Stress Away and then we watched HGTV to pass some time. 

Around 4, the doctor came in again and I was really starting to feel stronger contractions. I was 5 cm, 80% and the doctor suggested if I wanted an epidural to go ahead and call for one in case things picked up quickly (good advice because spoiler alert, they did.) 

I was given my epidural from the sweetest man ever. He was 75 and could be retired, but chooses to continue to work because he loves it. I know a lot of people have issues with the amount they can feel after an epidural, but this man did his job right. I did not feel clumsy and still could feel pressure, but no pain. Glorious. Good work doctor. Around 5 o'clock I started feeling a ton of pressure. Basically it felt like I had a bowling ball just pressing down on my uterus. I thought maybe the epidural was not quite working properly, but then the doctor came in and checked me and all that pressure...that was the baby ready to get the party started. I was fully dilated and 10 cm. With each of my babies, when I know they are about to physically enter the world, I can't help but cry when I think about actually meeting them. It is so surreal knowing what you have been anticipating for so long is actually happening. So many happy tears. 

The doctor started getting her scrubs on and the nurse asked me to do a practice push. So I started pushing and she immediately yelled to STOP because she could see his head. So the doctor finished getting her scrubs on, I pushed twice, the doctor told me to open my eyes and our boy was here. He came out yelling and ready to eat at 5:13 pm.

That feeling when they put your baby on your chest is a feeling I won't ever forget. And since August is our last baby, it is something I am sad that I won't experience again. I already miss his tiny body scrunched up on my chest. It is very euphoric getting to meet your baby and be in such a natural state with them in their first moments outside the womb. It is the closest to heaven I feel like you can get on this Earth.

I spent the next hour skin to skin with my boy soaking him in and studying his tiny features. He had no trouble latching and wanted to eat and eat and eat. Then they took him to get measured and it was Daddy's turn to hold our boy. August looked right up in to our faces as if to say, "here I am Mom and Dad!"

Our nurse, Anne told me that she felt like angels were in the room all day because everything went so smoothly and I was so calm.  Everything about the day was wrapped in sweetness from the kind nurses to the anesthesiologist. I'm forever thankful for being able to experience pregnancy and birth one last time. Staring in to August's face for the first time I knew that he was always meant to be part of our family. What a gift he already is to us.