Running for a Cause

2 Aug



I’ve been invited to run the Princess Half at Disneyland in February. I know, I’m crazy!

By the time I went to sign up, it was sold out. I began looking for other options, and was surprised to find I can run for a cause! I looked through a lot of the causes. Many were things near and dear to my heart. Reading the stories of so many foundations and trying to figure out who to help.

It can be really hard to decide who to help when you also have to take into account your morals. Many of the organizations send money to research/procedures/other organizations that I cannot support. sophiemad

When I came upon the story of Sophie and Madigan’s Playground, my momma heart ached. These precious girls lost their lives to a house fire. Their family is raising money to build a playground in their honor as a place where families can build memories. You can read more of the story here.

I don’t know this family, but I am excited to help raise money for their memorial playground!

None of the money raised will go to my transportation, housing, etc. It covers my “bib” and then the remaining goes to the playground.

Will you help build a playground in their honor? Even $5 will help!

My fundraising page.

-Tara ♥

Maps Galore!

10 Jul

Maps Galore! | originally posted at

I don’t quite remember when Pip first became interested in maps. He would ask to stop and look at the map in malls, the zoo, museums, etc sometime in the past year.

But I remember when it reached a new level…

We were about to go on his first ever camping trip. I had loaded up on camping themed books at the library and we read up on what to expect. One book in particular struck Pip’s fancy. It was Camping: A Mr. and Mrs. Green Adventure by Keith Baker. On one page there is a map that Mrs. Green makes for Mr. Green to help them find their camping spot.

Multiple times a day this book was brought to me so we could read the story and talk (at great lengths) about the map. That’s when his interest in maps became a full on fascination.

I could roll my eyes at this surly short lived fascination. Or I could embrace it. Being a homeschooling family, we embraced it!

We’ve borrowed a plethora of map themed books from the library. Our top five favorites are:

I’ve printed off maps of some of our favorite places and laminated maps from some of our favorite local stops (museums, zoos, etc).

And guess what? I’ve learned more about Pip in the process…

He knows many common map symbols without me ever directly teaching it. “Look mommy! Potty!”

He loves knowing where his cousins all live and being able to point to Virginia and Florida on the map.

He enjoys “planning trips”. Especially with the Disney World maps. He shows everyone who will look where his favorite places are in WDW.

It’s awesome ♥

Why I run…

15 Jun

Why I run | article originally posted at

Well, I’ve officially been cleared to start running! Yep, you read that right. I’m running again.

Before I get too much further, let me set the record straight… this is not in an effort to get skinny, fit into size 4 jeans, lose my mom pooch, have a bikini bod, etc.

This is 100% for me. I used to run and I loved it. I want to run to be the healthiest mom I can be for my littles. I want to run to get 30 minutes in my own head, uninturrupted. I want to be an example for Pip and Liv. Period.

The way my body looks because of the running is simply a side effect.

I’m a goal orientated girl, so I need something to work towards. That thing is the WDW Half Marathon in January.

Crazy, right?! Well, my amazing friend Traci joined me in my crazy moment and we signed up together.

I’ve never raced before. Ever. Go big or go home!

So, expect running updates along with kiddo and homeschool updates in the months to come. Here we go!

-Tara ♥

Bible Reading + Focus

5 Jan

Knowing your learning style(s), and ways to help yourself learn, is SO important. I cannot stress this enough. It took until college for me to learn some aspects of how I learn best. And I find I’m continuing to learn new strategies to help improve my ability to learn all the time! For example…

I am a slow reader. Like, REALLY slow. My brain insists I read every.single.word. The idea of “scanning” a book makes my skin crawl. Many times, over just as many years, I have tried to read the bible all the way through. But my slow reading, and distractible brain, usually had me throwing in the towel by the end of January. Last year I tried to set up accountability partners and use an awesome reading app. But again, for a variety of reasons including my slow reading, it didn’t last long.

However, this year has the potential for a very different outcome!

A lovely lady from our church, who I just “friended” on social media recently, shared about an app. This one caught my attention immediately… it was a “read through the bible in a year” as usual. But this one is an AUDIO bible.

Using the Daily Audio Bible | read more at:

I am 100% an auditory learner. Anything I need to learn/memorize needs to be auditorily inputted into my noggin. In college, grad school and now with all the trainings and speaking engagements I do – it’s all auditory based. You’ll always see me with headphones in the week(s) leading up to the presentation, as I listen to the material over and over again. So an audio bible through the year? YES!


I also love it because it means Pip is hearing it too! Some days I’ll play it while I make breakfast or while we eat lunch. If it is a really busy day, we listen in the car as we drive between social engagements and appointments. I read a lot, but mostly on devices. Which means Pip doesn’t see me holding a physical book… for all he knows, I am back on social media again. (insert mom guilt here) So listening together to an audio book is really great for the both of us. And really, what better book could we be listening to?!

The narrator is dynamic, there is background music… overall it is REALLY well put together. Which my brain truly appreciates. I can’t recommend it enough. However, I realized I needed something to do with my hands when listening in the early morning or late in the evening all by myself. I fidget – I do not sit still very well AT ALL. So sitting and just listening wasn’t working. I found myself mentally “checking out” – which isn’t what I wanted when reading the bible! So, I was talking to a friend over the weekend about what to do. I love the new “grown-up coloring books” and have a very nice one, with beautiful pencils gifted by the hubby. I’ll often color in the evenings after Pip is in bed. But carrying those with me at all times wasn’t really realistic. But, as the saying goes, there must be an “app for that!”

Using coloring apps to stay focused! | read more at:

Sure enough, I found some great apps for adults to “color”! I gave one a try today and it worked wonderfully! I filled in a nice simple mandala while truly listening to readings in Genesis, Proverbs and more. This specific app is Colorfy, but there are many available!

So overall my message is this – there are some great apps to help you obtain some new goals this year. For me, it’s reading my bible more with even more focus. And these are what work for me right now. Saying a prayer I last longer than January for a change. And if not? Then I will give myself an extra helping of forgiveness and grace… then try again!


One Little Word 2016

1 Jan

For the past 6 years we have participated in One Little Word instead of “resolutions” each New Years. It’s become a wonderful conversation we have together each December as a new year approaches. We discuss words we are thinking about, what we are “aiming” for and overall the “feel” of the new year. Those “words” have helped keep me grounded during infertility, focused during crazy times and reflective at the end of each year. Last year my word was “thankful”, and it was so amazing to talk with Oliver and hear how he saw me grow into this word in 2015.

This year I thought, mulled, prayed and really worked to find the right word. I almost went with brave, but Oliver agreed – it was “close” just not quite right. This year isn’t about enduring pain or facing danger. Then, as I was falling asleep the other night, I prayed for clarity. And the word just resonated in my soul…

Definition: showing an ability to take risks; confident and courageous.

YES! I have so many opportunities available to me this year, if I boldly take them. I’m finishing up certification in some training/assessments and clinics WANT this – if I’m bold enough to provide them! I’m becoming a mama to 2, and I want to embrace that with boldness. I’m praying and petitioning to God for a beautiful VBAC, and I’m going to have to boldly seek it to get it. I want to embrace “bold” this year with every cell in my body.

I also found bold can be defined as “having a strong or vivid appearance”. Now, this definition usually applied to color or design. But I really want to be strong and vivid this year, too. In my relationship with Christ, in motherhood and in the physical sense. Now, I’m not worried about my pants size. I’m focused on being strong enough to wear my babies, hike the mountains here, try rock climbing again and more. So please note I’m not saying “skinny”… I want to be STRONG.  And that is part of being bold too!

Do you pick a word each year? I’d love to hear what it is!


DIY Light Table

31 Dec

I’m famous for seeing something on Pinterest, thinking it looks easy and then bombing it royally. And heaven forbid I want to take a Pinterest idea and “tweek” it a little! I’m surprised my husband gives any of my Pinterest inspired ideas a second thought, much less a chance. But sometimes, just sometimes, they work!

For Christmas I’ve wanted Pip to have a light table. I’ve read so many great blog posts about them, seen so many fun activities and he LOVES the one at the Lakeshore store. But the price tag on many of them was slightly astronomical. So I hit up Pinterest to see what I could find.

There are a ton of “tubs with lights” adaptations, but I know I wanted something more. With hosting co-op, kid #2 on the way and plenty of play dates hosted here… it needed to do the job well and stand up to the test of time (also known as “toddlers”).

That is when I came upon THIS tutorial. Now, any excuse to drive to IKEA is always welcomed. And over half the supplies are located there. So, over a few months, I purchased pieces to this project. And, on Christmas Eve, Oliver gave it a go. And it was a success! Pip LOVES it!

DIY Light Table |

Pip’s new light table!

Disclaimer: We made ONE change. We used this stuff instead of the spray paint frost. Spray paint already acts a bit different at altitude sometimes and the fact that it was below freezing… it just wasn’t feeling like it would be successful.

On to the next Pinterest inspired idea!! [kidding hunny… kinda…]


Co-Op Fun: Cookies!

14 Dec

This week for co-op we combined snack and art – and decorated gingerbread men! As many of you know, Pip is gluten free and dairy free. So I took the responsibility of making cookies for the class. I found this recipe and they turned out quite yummy! My coconut milk wouldn’t solidify, so we used peanut butter for icing and then sprinkles on top. Mmmm!


Gaming: Koala Capers

5 Dec

My mom stumbled upon this game on Zulily a few months ago. She thought it looked perfect for Pip. Sure enough! He loves it!

Caption reads:

A lot of people ask how I adapt and play games with Pip (who turns three in January). This is a sneak peak of a game we just opened today called “Koala Capers”. The game called for rolling two dice, a pattern one and an article of clothing one. There is a “lose your cards” option on the clothing die – a pair of underwear. *giggle* Because Pip knows the names of articles of clothing, doesn’t understand “losing” cards, and isn’t quite to following two step descriptor directions yet… We just used the pattern die! We take turns rolling the die and finding a Koala that has our pattern on any article of clothing. He’s getting really good at naming the pattern types (zip zag, polka dots, etc) and finding them amongst all the cards set out before him! We’ve played it twice already and he’s right now asking to play it again!

We typically play this game up to 3 mornings a week. We all get ready together in the morning (mommy, daddy and Pip), so we keep this game in the bedroom to play when waiting for a turn in the bathroom or for everyone to be finished!

A lot of people ask how I adapt and play games with Pip (who turns three in January). This is a sneak peak of a game we just opened today called "Koala Capers". The game called for rolling two dice, a pattern one and an article of clothing one. There is a "lose your cards" option on the clothing die – a pair of underwear. *giggle* Because Pip knows the names of articles of clothing, doesn't understand "losing" cards, and isn't quite to following two step descriptor directions yet… We just used the pattern die! We take turns rolling the die and finding a Koala that has our pattern on any article of clothing. He's getting really good at naming the pattern types (zip zag, polka dots, etc) and finding them amongst all the cards set out before him! We've played it twice already and he's right now asking to play it again! #homeschool #slpmom

A video posted by Tara Nicole (@speechykeenslp) on


Link to the game on Amazon

Gaming: Seek-A-Boo

26 Nov

My mom is great at finding some fun games for Pip! Because he is still just two, I adapt them a lot so he can be successful. Then I up the difficulty as he is able! This game has a bunch of categories (differentiated by the border color). The game calls for the circles to be face down and for kids to find the ones that match a card. For Pip, I leave them face up. As he has gotten REALLY good at this game, I will often do a few categories together now, so he has a bigger group to search through.

For some of my older work clients I not only put them face down, I also don’t tell them what is on my card. Depending on their goals I may describe it, act it out, etc. So this game can really age up, which is always wonderful!

Dinner done, TV off, games have come out! #Thanksgiving

A photo posted by Tara Nicole (@speechykeenslp) on

Hope you love this game as much as we do!


Link to the game on Amazon

Co-Op Fun: Train vs. Subway

23 Nov

Another Monday, another fun day at co-op! Today we talked about trains and subways. We discussed what was same and different between them and watched short YouTube videos about each! We had fun using a poster mailing tube as our subway tube to send subway trains through, then placing tracks across the top of the tube for the steam engine train! We talked about above ground, under ground, through.. So many fun concepts!