Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Signing with Preschoolers

Once Ellie turned three in April, my thoughts about preschool leaped from the back-burner to the front of my mind.

As a kid, my sisters and I didn't go to preschool (we were at home till kindergarten), and I remember being proud of myself for learning how to read before starting school (thanks, Mom!).  But now it seems like it's the norm.  What kids once learned in Kindergarten seems to be what they're expected to know already before they start. (Or is it just me?!)

It's pretty amazing how much our little ones are capable of.  I didn't think Ellie could be reading at this age--and whether it was sign language or just her own interest or iPad games or what--it's been fun seeing her learn and grow. :) 

Some friends and I have banded together to do a preschool day once a week for our little preschoolers.  We introduce some concepts to work on at home for the next week, and it's been really cute seeing them learn and play together.

My goal right now is mainly exposure.  I try to surround Ellie with fun ways to learn, and try to go with what she gets excited about or what her interests are.  With her starting to read, I can already see her expressing frustration with herself when she can't sound out a word.  The little perfectionist. :)  So my hope is to keep it light and enjoyable so it stays fun, and only do little bits at a time.

With fun in mind--and for this sign language loving mama--I get excited about how well sign language and learning go hand-in-hand.  It makes sense after all--it taps into all the major learning modalities of our little ones--tactile, kinesthetic, auditory (since you say and sign together), and visual.  AND it helps with memory (so all that learning will stick).  AND it gets our silly energetic ones moving and staying engaged!  So basically, two big thumbs up all around. :)

This is why I'm absolutely thrilled that the creators of Signing Time have come out with a preschool program, called Rachel and the Treeschoolers!  Ellie has gotten so excited each time a new episode has been released (the fourth one JUST came out!).  I still remember how she'd ask me to sing  "tiny tiny" every night before bed after she first saw it a year and a half ago. (Click link to see a preview of this song from the "Rainy Day" episode.)
 Rachel Coleman
The themes so far have been about weather, plants, insects, and now the human body.  They're full of cute animal characters (the "treeschoolers"), who are taught by Rachel as she leads them through the steps of wondering, searching for answers, learning, and then sharing with others.  I love that the episodes all have a free Activity Guide to go with them as well--which has been perfect to include in the homeschool preschool we're doing!

Each episode includes a few signs, along with a game, learning from an expert, and a handful of energetic songs.

That's probably Ellie's favorite part--following Rachel's and the kids' dance moves, and singing along to all the songs.  The energetic peanut doesn't even realize she's learning as she's busting out these songs. :) Her favorites that she always hops up to dance to are about thunder & lightning, how a seed grows, photosynthesis, the parts of a bug, and now a funny body-twisting extended version of head-shoulders-knees-and-toes.

Do you have a preschooler (or soon-to-be preschooler) of your own?  If you would love to win your own copy of the newly released episode, "The Amazing Human Body," fill out the rafflecopter below (a $22 value)!  (Shipping to the U.S. only.)  Feel free to email me at littlesignofmine (at) gmail (dot) com with any questions!  
Here's a preview for the newest episode for you to check out!  "The Amazing Human Body" Preview
And you can find out more about Rachel & the TreeSchoolers here.

*Disclaimer: This isn't a sponsored post from Two Little Hands--I purchased the DVD/CD for the giveaway myself, and the rave reviews are my honest own! :)  And if you'd like to purchase any of the TreeSchoolers episodes or any Signing Time product, feel free to email me to place an order. (As a certified Baby Signing Time instructor I'm also authorized to sell their awesome products!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 20, 2014

Pinch Me...

This is the story of how Ellen Degeneres blessed my socks off.

It all started when my friend Ashley invited me to go to the Ellen show with her...

You know, just another ordinary day...

touring the WB studios in Burbank... 

hanging out on the Central Perk set of Friend's... 

seeing Ellen Degeneres... (along with Emily Blunt, Ansel Elgort, and of course--Twitch!)...

Photo cred: The Ellen Show
Photo cred: The Ellen Show
and going home with a Bvlgari necklace, a 2-year subscription to Netflix, and a Samsung Galaxy S3 mini phone.
Photo cred: The Ellen Show
Photo cred: The Ellen Show
WHAAAAT!!! :)  

We were ecstatic the entire day...  My face seriously hadn't hurt from smiling that much since my wedding.  And apparently it showed--we were invited to come back to another show!!

In the end it worked out that I brought a good friend, Jen (who got some air time asking guest DJ Loni Love for romance advice!).

We got to dance next to Ellen and were completely star-struck. :D  And then it was game time... I still remember hearing Ellen reveal what the players would be playing for.  My mouth dropped at the amazingness that was this prize--I was just in total awe for whoever would get to win it.  And then I heard Ellen say my name...

"Where are... Bethany Sloan and Alisha Michaelson?!?!"  


All of a sudden I'm running down to the stage, hugging Ellen, and jumping up and down.  Guys, it was INSANE.  Amidst the blur of it all I remember how piercingly beautiful Ellen's blue eyes were up close, and hoping I was showing enough how excited I felt inside!!

Photo cred: The Ellen Show
You can see the clip of our trivia game, Farmville 2 Nashville, here!!

The story behind the Beyonce answer was my favorite part--neither Alisha nor I knew the answer to, "Who is the mom of Blue Ivy?" so we tried turning to the audience for help.  I had a chance to steal, and I could tell my bud Jen knew the answer, but there was absolutely no way to hear her shouting to me with the entire audience shouting, too.  Ironically, just before the taping, the audience had been warming up by doing Beyonce's infamous dance to "Crazy in Love," so Jen just starts busting it out, using charades to help me get it!!  As soon as I saw that it CLICKED and I got my ONE point!! Hahaha.  

So the lovely Alisha wins the game and the amazing prize, but gotta love Ellen who gives prizes to her losers too, because hours later I'm busting through my front door and announcing to my husband, 


AND we're going to THE CMT AWARDS!!!!  

AND we get to meet KEITH URBAN!!!!!"  

Shocked, laughing, and hugging, David kept exclaiming over and over, "BABE.... Are you SERIOUS?!?!  SERIOUSLY??!!  WHAAT!!!!  BABE!!"

It still felt unreal when Alisha and I were boarding the plane at LAX with our country music-loving husbands just three weeks later.  (Gotta love that they were just as excited as we were!!)

And thanks to an incredible integration between Farmville 2 Country Escape, Ellen, and Keith Urban, we were given the trip of a LIFETIME.  Round-trip tickets to Nashville, a 5-nights' stay in a hotel, tickets to the Country Music Television Awards, a surprise opportunity to rub elbows with all of our fav country celebs on the RED CARPET before the awards, a meet-and-greet with Keith Urban, AND surprise tickets to the Country Music Association (CMA) Festival that was going down that weekend!!!

We're talkin SECOND ROW SEATS to THREE NIGHTS of concerts, where we got to see Tim McGraw, Luke Bryan, Rascal Flatts, Alabama, Dierks Bentley, Brantley Gilbert, Blake Shelton, Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, Jason Aldean, The Band Perry, Sara Evans, Travis Tritt, Florida Georgia Line, Darius Rucker, Little Big Town, and Keith Urban!!!  

HOLY MOLY GUACAMOLE... It seriously just kept getting better... and Better... and BETTER.  

I even got to see the incredibly handsome and charming Chip Esten, who plays my favorite character Deacon on my FAVORITE drama, Nashville (which is returning for its 3rd season this fall on ABC, woot woot!!!)

Y'all, we can't even capture what an amazing time we had and how thankful we are, or how blessed we feel to have gotten to experience all that...  We especially loved gaining a friendship out of it--with Alisha and her husband, Sven!  Both of us got to use this trip as an early anniversary trip, and man will we never be able to top this one!!!  We kept saying it was a trip of a lifetime, and man was it... 

Photo cred: Keith Urban, AKA master selfie taker
The Ellen Show put together a clip of our time on the red carpet for the CMT Awards, and you can check it out here!  I also have several more pictures on Instagram (@bethanyjanae)

And for those who are curious--the award show aired live on June 4th, and the CMA Fest will be airing on ABC on August 5th.  

Back home I've still been riding the high from the trip by rewatching the first two seasons of Nashville on Hulu, and by ordering a huge sampling from Nashville's Loveless Cafe online store that I cooked for David for Father's Day (complete with sweet tea). :)

Also, I'm pretty sure I'm still weaning off a slight accent.  I just love the south too much...

Thank you a MILLION--to Ellen "the most generous and wonderful talk show host" Degeneres, to Farmville 2 Country Escape, and to Keith "the handsome Aussie cowboy" Urban!!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

If You Give a Former Teacher a Preschooler

If you give a former teacher a preschooler...
Chances are she's going to want to teach it...

And if she's going to teach it, she will need to make a curriculum plan.
She'll sit down with a cup of coffee, and start by pinning "The ABCs of How to Home Preschool" (#PNRL)

After getting bogged down by the bajillion preschool ideas on Pinterest, she'll need to take a break.
So she'll print the Homeschool Supply List, and focus on #1. Glue.  She can do glue.

She'll head to the nearest teacher supply store.

She'll probably faint from excitement at all the fresh school supplies and that new pencil smell.
She'll want to fill her cart with teddy bear counters and Do-a-Dot Markers, gallon sized paints and wooden pattern blocks.

When she brings home the new supplies, she'll realize she still needs to pick out the curriculum.
So she'll call her best friend/homeschool guru to ask which is the best.

Then she'll go online to order All About Reading and Handwriting Without Tears.
But they'll take 5-7 business days to arrive.

So she'll wander back onto Pinterest to scope out (read: get lost in) all the best homeschool preschool blogs.
She'll download 227 files in one day.

When the curriculum boxes are delivered, she'll tear through them like it's Christmas morning.
Holding the thick books labeled "Teacher's Manual" in her hands, the clouds will part, the angels will sing, and she'll know... she's arrived.

She'll want to run and put on the apple necklace her husband gave her when she first became a teacher.

On her way to her room she'll notice their tiny home and realize... crafts and sensory play were already starting to take over.
So she'll have to rearrange everything.

Mid-way into dumping the entire hall closet contents into the living room and getting learning materials somewhat situated in their new spots, she'll get inspired to start making the Letter of the Week packets she'd downloaded.

Before you know it, she'll be elbow deep in sheet protectors and low ink warnings, so she'll have to go to Walmart.
When she's at the store, she'll remember what another blogger said about a LAMINATING MACHINE (cue heart skipping a beat).

So she'll ask the store clerk if they carry them.  And if they do...
She'll decide it would be counterintuitive NOT to get one.

She'll probably want to try it out that same night.
"I'll just laminate one thing," she'll think.  "And then I'll go to bed."

But, being the night owl that she is, she'll get a second wind.
She'll need to print, cut, laminate, and cut again--FIVE WHOLE WEEKS of lessons.

She might even Mod Podge letters, hot-glue magnets to pom-poms, hole-punch lacing cards, and make play dough mats.

She'll be so excited that she'll want to set out the "T is for Turtle" activities for her preschooler to try in the morning.
She probably won't realize it's 2am.

After making 14 cute little learning stations, she'll happily step back to take a look.
But her eyes will spot all the laminating scraps, toys that had been left out, and some other things to put away.

She'll intend to do a quick tidy-up, but it will end up being a bit more in-depth.
When she's finally done, she'll feel ready to go to bed.  At

The next morning, her preschooler will probably climb on her to wake her up at 7am.
She'll need to trudge to the kitchen to pour a cup of coffee.

And chances are, her excited preschooler will jump right in ready to learn...
While she curls up on the couch with her coffee, relishing the joy of seeing her little one learn and grow before her eyes.

And she'll be SO thankful God gave her this little preschooler.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easter Egg Color-Sorting Collage

I have two "go-to" blogs that I LOVE checking out for kid crafts--and one of those is I Heart Crafty Things.  I love Rachel's ideas--especially her sensory binsactivity trays, and cutting practice trays (okay, so really ALL her sorting and fine motor activities). :)  You really should check her out...

So with Rachel's crafts on my brain, I was inspired by her genius contact paper collages to make this Easter Egg activity!

Materials you'll need:
1) clear ConTact paper
2) colored Sharpees
3) colored foam pieces or stickers (could also use cut-up tissue paper, jewels, you name it)
4) tape  

I started out by just drawing a large Easter egg-shaped outline on the clear side of contact paper (not the blue-lined graph side), using the colored Sharpees.

Then I decided to divide up our egg with colored lines (based on the colors from the foam stickers I'd snagged from Target).

This ended up being great practice for Ellie!  I'd draw a big "starting" dot on the left and a "finishing" dot on the right side of the egg, and she'd choose if she wanted to do a squiggly or straight line across.  We've been working on reading and writing from left to right, along with correct finger placement for writing her letters and coloring, so I helped her get situated, and she did the lines by herself. :)

Then I got carried away and thought it'd be a great addition to write out the names of the colors in the different spots... (especially because I didn't have yellow and had done that section in green).  Only to realize AFTERWARDS that the words would show up BACKWARDS when I peeled off the contact paper!!!  Whomp whomp....  So I had to improvise.  Oh well!

Note: we poised this a bit after drawing the lines, so I didn't mess with how she was holding the marker. ;)
Okay, SO... to hang up the contact paper, usually you'd just carefully peel back the white paper, then tape the corners to a wall so that the sticky side is facing out.  But since I didn't want the words to get turned around, I ended up having to do an extra step.  I taped the whole thing on the wall, then placed ANOTHER contact paper (sticky side out) on top of it, taping the corners in the same spots.  Phew!  Lesson learned!

Next, I gave her these two Easter plates with the stickers pre-sorted (could also have had her help sort with me, but I wanted to surprise her since she hadn't seen the stickers yet). :)

She jumped right in, putting one sticker in each category for starters.  (Initially she wanted to peel off all the backings on the stickers, but I was able to convince her to keep them on so we can reuse the stickers for another activity!) :)

And then she had fun just filling in all the colors and "decorating" her egg!

 There was one point where I was busy taking pictures :) and didn't notice she was putting different colors in the spots--which would be fine, too, but since we were practicing color sorting and matching, I helped her see what was different and how she could fix it.

It was fun how it also became a bit of a spatial or "puzzle" activity--practicing fitting shapes into spaces and rearranging things or rotating them to help them all fit.

Ta Da!!

Love how it turned out!  Thanks for being the inspiration, Rachel! :)

Other ways to extend this activity--
*Talk about how eggs and Spring relate to Easter (new life; how Jesus makes all things new; Jesus' resurrection!)
*Make the colors in rainbow order, practicing ROYGBIV
*Talk about the parts of a flower and how bees pollinate flowers (works with these specific stickers)
*Mix up the colors at the beginning and have little one sort them.
*Discuss what type of weather characterizes Spring, and what things happen in Spring (rain, green grass, sunny, cool, breeze, clouds, rainbows, Groundhog Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, etc.)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

{Little Sign} Class 13 & 14 Review

Oklahoma was fantastic, and I even got to squeeze in a few days in Colorado with my best friend, Shannon!  The bummer is that I've been out for a week, sick. :(  So since I won't make it to class tomorrow, here are some ideas to keep up with your signing!  

Class #13: Friends & Feelings - FRIEND, PLAY, SHARE, NICE, FEEL, HAPPY, LAUGH, SAD, CRY
*Note - all of these signs can be found at
(with the exception of BIG and SMALL, which are shown if you watch "Opposites" carefully on the DVD) 

SING & Sign:
*Start by playing the "Baby Signing Time Theme," from the Vol. 4 CD.
*Sing and sign along, and have fun interacting with your little one.  
*Try holding their arms and helping them sign BABY if they're willing. (Remember, Ellie fussed if I tried to guide her hands--then as she got older she asked me to help her fingers sign "H" and other things.  So you never know!) :)

READ & Sign:
*Read the book "WillYou Be My Friend?" by Baby Signing Time, while signing the words you know. 
(Use the cheat sheet at the back to help brush up on any you may have forgotten!)  
*Talk about the pictures and point to different things on the pages.
*Have some toys around to play with to help demonstrate playing and sharing.  After reading, do some free play.  Try signing things like SHARE, PLAY, NICE, and THANK YOU
*You can also bring out a stuffed animal and practice petting it NICELY.

WATCH & Sign:
*Show "Can You Feel It" to your little one from the Baby Signing Time DVD Vol. 4 "Let's Be Friends." (view the Preview tab to see part of this song in the link.)
*Imitate the emotions during the song (exaggerate and emphasize).  
*Talk about the babies on the screen.  "Ohhh, is she CRYING?  She feels SAD...  Look, now she's HAPPY!"  or "Look at them LAUGHING!  Can you LAUGH?" *tickle tickle*

SING & Sign:
*Play the song, "Opposites," from the Vol. 4 CD.
*Collect some hot (warm), cold, dirty, and clean items to interact with during the song.  Some ideas:
Hot: microwave a sock filled with rice
Cold: teething toy from the fridge
Dirty: puréed baby food
Clean: baby wipes
*Sign the word as you're playing with the item, and encourage little one to experience it as well.  ("See, touch it, what does it feel like?  Is it COLD?  Brrrr, COLD!")

1) PHOTO BOOK - Take a picture of little one smiling, and another one of him pouting or crying. :(  Add this to your My Little Sign's photo book.  You could even do a messy picture (after eating?) and a clean one (after bath).
(You can find inexpensive 4x6 picture books at Target or the dollar store.  More ideas to add: pictures of little one doing activities--eating, playing, taking a bath, or getting a diaper changed; pictures of family members--mommy, daddy, grandma, grandpa, or even the family pet; pictures of baby holding/wearing/playing with a hat, shoes, book, ball, or blanket; and pictures playing outside with bubbles, in the grass, near a tree, or with flowers.) 

2) DIRTY & CLEAN - Make a sign for the dishwasher to show the opposites CLEAN and DIRTY
For CLEAN, trace little one's hand on cardstock.  For DIRTY, dip the hand in paint or brush glue on the hand, and after pressing the handprint on the cardstock, sprinkle sand/flax seed/glitter, or anything else messy.  Use a magnet below the appropriate hand to show the status of the dishwasher!  (You may want to laminate the paper or put it in a page protector to keep it safe!

3) BIG & SMALL - Trace your hand on black construction paper and cut it out.  Then brush white paint on to little one's hand and place it on the palm on the construction paper.  Such a cute contrast of big and small--and dark and light!

Now think of 3 signs that you're going to practice frequently this week!  My three will be: SHARE, HOT, and YES.  Feel free to comment below with your three!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Finished Week 2, & Calling It

After I started the Whole30 I read on their site that you should carefully plan WHEN you're going to do it.  Consider what's on the calendar, etc.  I'd been struggling because during my 30 days was going to be my 28th birthday and a 4-day vacation in Oklahoma to be in a dear friend's wedding!  I made it through my birthday fine.  Self-control and staying motivated and all that. :)

But with this vacation--I'd really like to enjoy it.  I realized I'd be stressing and having to put a lot of time into making Whole30-approved food (and there's never enough time when getting together with close friends as it is!!).

So with that in mind, I've given myself permission to call it.

I went halfway--15 days--and am really thankful for what I've learned and gotten out of it.  Will share sometime next week most likely!

I stepped on the scale today (did I mention how much I loved the Whole30 rule of putting your scale away and not looking at it the whole time??  So great for not focusing on each pound but on getting healthier and feeling better.  I was definitely noticing a difference in clothing fit, and my stomach slimming especially.

Here's a quick look after 2 weeks:

I tried to keep things as much the same as possible (no flexing, no makeup, wet hair, lol. and now I know my mirror needs cleaning!).  Except this time I did a selfie instead of the husband taking it--so maybe it's a different angle?  Either way--I am excited to say I lost 7 pounds and am feeling good!

I'm still going to eat well as much as possible while on vacation, but I definitely plan on having a glass of wine at our girls' night and enjoying some wedding cake. :)  Ohhhhh and a dinner roll.... oooh, and a bagel.... mmmm and a sourdough or French bread sandwich!  Oh bread, how I've missed you the most.

While I'm talking about the previously taboo food, this part of the Whole30 website is helpful to read at the end of your Whole30 (or in my case, my Whole15 hehe)--it talks about reintroduction and life after the Whole30.

So there we go.  Will I do another Whole30 all the way through?  Probably.  In the meantime I'm excited to try certain Paleo dishes that weren't allowed on the Whole30, and am going to keep packing my diet with protein, veggies, and fruits.

And now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go brew some coffee to drink WITH creamer in it. ;)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Week 1 of Whole30

I've officially made it through my first week on the Whole30 challenge!  I'm on Day 8, and I'd say it's going pretty well.  I'm looking forward to sharing more specifics about what I've been eating, etc. soon, but for now here are three thoughts...

First, I thought I would have a much easier time eating veggies.  I love spaghetti squash...when it's in an ultra-cheesey casserole.  I love munching on mushrooms, carrots, snap peas, and slices of red, orange, and yellow bell peppers... when they're dunked in Ranch dressing or hummus.  I love mashed sweet potatoes or yams... when slathered in butter and milk.  I love steamed broccoli, zucchini, and cauliflower...  when oozing with butter.  You get the picture.  Eating the veggies by themselves?  It's just different.

But I think I know how to fix that.  1) Spices... Such as.... Lots of sea salt (yum).  Cinnamon (like on butternut squash). And Garlic powder.  Spices are my best friend in making my latest meals tastier.

And 2) Make my own sauces.  Cauliflower hummus.  Guacamole.  Creamy Italian dressing.  A lot of dips and dressings I've found (on Pinterest) start with a homemade mayo base--which I made for the second time in my life and this time it turned out much better (definitely not Best Foods status though).

Second, it takes way more time than I realized.  If you're wanting to do the Whole30, make sure it's not during a busy month.  Most likely I'm going to have to choose to do a Whole16 this time around because of things coming up this month and not realizing how much time and prep this takes.  Everything takes longer--planning meals cause they're all new recipes with many new ingredients, buying the food cause you're reading basically every label (which is also a good thing!), and cooking, because there are so many more things to make from scratch or roast for an hour ahead of time or chill or marinate, etc, and they're new recipes that you have to read through and stop and figure out.

I've seen some helpful blogs about buying and prepping a lot of the food for the week on Sunday, so that's one way to tackle it.  I was anticipating eating dinners as leftovers for lunch the next day as a time saver, but I've had some flops for dinners that I just can't stomach eating as leftovers.

And third (this is a positive one!), I've been so grateful for how it's forced me to be INTENTIONAL about what I'm putting in my body.  It is a radical game changer.  I love learning to cook with new foods (coconut milk, butternut squash, almond butter, coconut aminos, new spices, etc.), trying out new stores (Whole Foods and Sprouts), and learning to make new things (zucchini noodles for fritters, homemade mayo, etc.).  I've also let myself spend money on plenty of fruits and veggies and am actually eating them up quickly (before they die in my veggie drawer!).  Before I would mostly just feed them to my child cause they're expensive, but Mom and Dad deserve healthy food, too! :)

And gone are the days of licking my daughter's yogurt lid before tossing it in the trash, or eating left over bites of her sandwich, or even munching on cheese as I'm grating it.  I have to be SO focused and self-controlled as I realize just how many things had become habitual.

I'm learning and growing and being stretched SO much already.  And I'm excited to discover more yummy food and keep making healthy choices this week.

I'd say making it 8 days has been a pretty good birthday gift to myself. :)
Chocolate Coconut Chew LaraBar to celebrate my 28th :)
P.S. Follow me on Instagram @bethanyjanae and check out my Whole30 Pinterest board to see the resources and recipes that have been helpful to me!

Monday, February 24, 2014

I'm doing it.

Friends can be so inspiring, can't they?

Heather really inspired me when she trained for and ran the Chicago marathon last year.  Carly inspired me when she did a 12-week fitness challenge complete with intense work-outs, healthy eating, and weekly video diaries.  And Katie inspired me when she did the Whole30 program in January.  (Her post at Lion Named Parker came at the perfect time!)

It's kind of funny how seeing pictures of yourself and then getting a surprising number on the scale can also inspire you--in a horrifying way. ;)  (Somehow I've gained 20 pounds recently, on top of the 10 I had been holding on to since having Ellie.)

Needless to say, I've been inspired... And I've been taking baby steps to getting more healthy.  But today I'm JUMPING in. :)

Today, I start the Whole30!  (You can read more about the Whole30 program here.) 

Basically I'm committing to eating mainly meats, veggies, and fruits for the next 30 days, and ommitting sugar, dairy, and grains (NOOOOOO!!!!!!  This is my hardest one... Even though God says we can't live on bread alone, I truly believe I could totally live off of the Word of God AND bread alone).

I wanted to share this process on the blog in an effort to stay accountable, and I decided to even share before and after pictures to keep me motivated (deep breath).  Part of me skeptically wonders how much this will really help with my weight, so I'm looking forward to being proven wrong.. :)

Here are yesterday's pics: (Don't mind the wet hair and no make-up! yikes) :)

As I've been working up my motivation to jump on this healthy food train, the main thing that's been hanging over me is the PLANNING.  They say that's the key--the meal planning and the grocery shopping.

Here's how I've been gearing up....

First I read through their 8-Step guide for newbies.  I was surprised how fun and easy to read it was.

I'm using these lists from the Whole30 site as a guide for groceries:

I'm following this Pinterest board (Stupid Easy Paleo-Whole30--it has about 18k followers!) and this Chowstalker one. 

And I'm following @whole30 on Instagram. (will use #bethanyswhole30)

Other than that, I've been wading through some of the recommended blogs that Whole30 suggests for recipes and meal plans.  One of my go-tos will probably be from Meatified--with their 30 Days of Whole30 Breakfasts, Lunches, and Dinners.

One last thought...
Last thing I want to mention is that I'm super thankful for the body God gave me--pear-shaped and all.  My main goal is to glorify Him as I learn how to eat healthier and exercise self-discipline.  Having a daughter keeps me really accountable to teaching her a positive self-image--frequently reminding her that she's created in God's image, that He made her and she is precious to Him, that she has a beautiful body... And since becoming a mom I've needed God to teach me to accept the changes from and marks of my pregnancies.  I've had to adjust to being several sizes for the first time, and becoming comfortable in my own skin at those various stages.  And while accepting that, I also want to strive to be as healthy as possible (especially in light of trying for another baby).  It's all about balance!  

So here we go.  I'm excited to let this retrain the way I think!  And I'm excited to see what new foods I learn to cook with and come to love.  

(And hey, if it gets me a little more photo-ready to be in my dear Rachel's wedding next month, then all the better.) ;)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Sign of the Week: MUSIC

So this was actually from two weeks ago, but I've been focusing on some other things lately!  Time to catch us up. :)

First off, I have to say that I'm typing this from a sort of "vacation" spot.  Our complex has been doing a lot of renovations and construction (for oh... years.), and this time around they got smart and have some furnished units that we can use during the day!  Complete with a coffee pot (of course this is listed first), TV (woohoo cable!), wifi, and even beds--so my peanut could take her nap undisturbed (hallelujah)!  I can't tell you how thankful I am for the peace and quiet.  And Ellie's thankful for Disney Junior. ;)

Okay so here we go...

"This week's" sign from the Signing Time Blog is... MUSIC!
(from Baby Signing Time DVD Vol 4: Let's Be Friends)

I also have a bunch of previous Signs of the Week in a  photo album (viewable on my Little Sign of Mine Facebook page even if you don't have a Facebook account).

1) How to sign MUSIC:
MUSIC: Hold your left (or non-dominant arm) out in front of you, perpendicular to your body.  Make a flat hand with your right (or dominant) hand, and sway or swing your hand over your arm--almost like you're conducting music.

*The cool thing about this sign is it is also the sign for SING and SONG.  As you make this sign, just say the word you're intending it to mean!
Example--"Should we put on some MUSIC?  What SONG do you want to listen to?  'Old MacDonald?'  Okay, let's SING along!" (Meanwhile, you're doing the same sign each time.)

2) Watch Rachel sign MUSIC & print the flashcard on the Signing Time Blog here.

3) Signing Activities:
-Anytime you hear music--whether at a grocery store, listening to a Baby Signing Time CD in the car, or playing with a toy that sings a song--sign and say MUSIC.  ("Do you hear the MUSIC?  Oooh, what SONG is this?")
-Make a drum circle for little one out of pots and pans.  Let him use his hands or give him a wooden spoon "drum stick."  Clap and cheer for him as he makes music, and encourage him by saying, "Good job, you're making MUSIC!" (while signing MUSIC).
(Source: Play Create Explore)

-Make your own sound treasure basket by collecting, making, or buying fun instruments.
(Image source: Fine Solutions)
-Check out this fun pin for lots of ideas on instruments you and your little one can make and explore together:
(Source: Red Ted Art)
-In addition to the toddler ideas, try making this fun windchime!
Using an old xylophone (check thrift store, garage sales, ebay, or Craig's List), hang pieces to an embroidery hoop using fishing line.  Talk and sign together about the MUSIC it makes.
(Source: Craftster forum)

4) Today's Challenge: Listen to a song and dance with your little one once a day, and practice signing MUSIC.  "Do you like this SONG?  It's so fun moving to the MUSIC!"

Happy signing!