Favorite Places to Shop and Top 3 Tips for Dressing Boys

tips + resources for dressing boys | www.lifeinyellow.com

cardigan Beau Hudson // tee Jean & June // jeans Hudson // boots Hunter


There’s no question if you’re into kid fashion, it’s easier to hunt down original stuff for the girls than for the boys. So far, we’ve managed to stay away from character clothing (yes, I’m THAT non-fun mom), and I’ve never been one to do the cliche “little slugger” type stuff. And…I can only do so much Under Armour. Beyond those categories, it can SEEM like there’s not much to choose from for the boys. But boy mama fashionistas, you know better!

tips + resources for dressing boys | www.lifeinyellow.com  

shirt Janie & Jack // suspenders Little Mister // olive chinos Oshkosh


Embrace the hunt, because it IS a hunt — and look in unexpected places…and LIVE UP the fact that most little boys (unlike girls, accordingly to my friends who have them) don’t CARE what you put them in — so pick what you like! As a boy mom who loves fashion, (and married a guy who happens to love it as well), I truly believe that dressing boys really IS just as much fun, if you’re willing to look a little harder. I a believer that a sense of style is NOT something reserved only for the female half of the population and I take personal pride in the fact that Crew (as much as a three year old can), LIKES clothing and notices what people wear!

tips + resources for dressing boys | www.lifeinyellow.com

shirt Gymboree // linen blazer Janie & Jack // carrot pin Etsy


I get asked a lot where I shop for Crew, and thought it made sense to compile my list all at once and share it out. (You’ll see I don’t stick to one style — we go from classic and preppy to whimsical and wordy!) While I certainly do pick up something from Target and Carters from time to time, I don’t often have much luck, and while I definitely buy Gap and Old Navy items (they consistently nail cuteness!), I only do so much there, too, because EVERYONE is wearing the same thing (again, so few resources — means boy moms are all going to the same spots!).

tips + resources for dressing boys | www.lifeinyellow.com

shirt Gap // shorts Gymboree // sandals Target


Ultimately, I do most of my shopping online to get outside the bubble of what Des Moines has to offer. Below is a list of the stores/brands I have purchased from and would recommend to my best girlfriends, because of the high quality, sense of style, expansive selection, or some combination of the three. (Note that several of these are Etsy shops or small independent brands — I love to support small businesses in this arena!)


My top 3 tips when it comes to shopping for boys:

1. Shop the sale racks. Most people buy kids clothes based on growth spurts and needs for the current season. I like to shop the sales for the following year(s) and not just to save money, and to be able to fit more pieces of higher-quality kidswear into my budget, but doing so also reduces the chance that you’ll see the same item everywhere if he’s not wearing it the season it was released. (Nothing worse than paying good money for a cute item only to see it everywhere and it becomes less special!) Additional tip: when shopping at a retailer with both store locations AND online space, look for the items that are “online exclusives” — you’ll be less likely to see these around, because they aren’t in the stores.

tips + resources for dressing boys | www.lifeinyellow.com

shirt Ralph Lauren // shorts Gymboree // pink Converse Von Maur

2. Shop the girls’ section. Yep, you read that right. If the (already much larger!) girl department gets to offer dinosaur jammies and other “traditionally boy” things for little ladies, then I say the boy department gets to borrow right back. One of my favorite looks ever on Crew was the spring/Easter season this year when he rocked some pink Converse tennis shoes. Paired with a linen blazer, or a Polo button-down and some chino shorts, or any other decidedly “boy” pieces, the pink shoes made a fun statement (and he loved them!). Another favorite girl department item I’ve bought three years in a row? H&M black fleece-lined leggings (they technically show up in both departments) — the skinny look works on boys when paired with a cool sweatshirt and tennis shoes, and they’re comfy for napping, stay up on skinny waists, and are warm for Iowa winters!

tips + resources for dressing boys | www.lifeinyellow.com

coat Old Navy // sweater Childrens Place // bow tie Etsy // shorts Beaufort Bonnet // saddle shoes Amazon

3. Shop small/local. Because they have to set themselves apart, local/small online shops get some of the BEST stuff that blows the big box-store styles out of the water. Their entire business is childrenswear, so they do it WELL. Yes, the price point is typically higher, but so is the QUALITY and the ORIGINALITY – two things that rank high in my book. Plus, you’re supporting small businesses who often make their purchasing/creation decisions based on their first-hand experience with their own kiddos — the same ones you’re supporting by choosing to spend your dollars there.

tips + resources for dressing boys | www.lifeinyellow.com

navy and gray layered tees Old Navy // yellow chinos Old Navy

Above are some of my favorite outfits from the past year or so, from all seasons (if items are still available, I’ve linked them below each photo). I’m excited to start pulling together quarterly posts with seasonal outfit ideas for boys, if you’re looking for some “look book” inspiration! Stay tuned later this week — I’m starting with looks for SPRING!


Easter for the Boys

1. Dinosaur egg bath bombs

Crew got some bath bombs in his stocking for Christmas and is so into them. He’s also big on dinosaurs so these were perfect (and I get to put some “eggs” in his basket). I’ve also found these at Wal-Mart next to the kiddo bubble bath.

2. Rifle Paper Co. Tie + Pocket square

I’m a sucker for the Rifle Paper Co. florals, and now that they make fabrics, I’m in heaven. I was pretty sure Page would love this tie for himself, and after checking with him to be sure, he was all over the pocket square, too. Crew thinks anything Dad does is the coolest, so this was a fun way to make the most of that in their Easter get-ups.

3. Too Many Carrots

Crew was gifted A Long Winter’s Nap for his birthday, and while Crew loved the story, I fell in love with the artwork, and had to know what else the author had written. This title was too perfect for this holiday.

4. Bunnies on Bicycles jammies

You know I love some Hanna jams. I loved this pattern in that it wasn’t overly Easter — but more Springtime and reminds us of getting outside again soon! These will certainly last us all summer into the hotter months when long jammies are just too warm at night.

5. Chalk Bombs

With the excitement of getting outside more, I think Crew will like this fun spin on traditional sidewalk chalk. I originally thought you could only use them once and then done, but when I figured out you can throw them again and again to make “explosions” of chalk art, I was sold.

6. Bunny slingshot

I thought this was so clever, and while I can’t link to it, you can find it in your Target dollar spot ($3). I also like that the “ammo” (aka bunny tail) won’t do too much damage around my house!

7. Pink knee highs

When it comes to dressing boys, I hate to feel limited and like to think outside the box. I’m also a huge believer in boys wearing pink, and that either gender can shop outside his/her department! Last year I put Crew in some pink Converse with his Easter ensemble, and the shoes were a hit with him all season long after that. This year, I started with the socks of all things, after coming across June & January’s unisex socks — finally something in a fun color that doesn’t have a frilly edge or girlie pattern to it. These will let us get one more wear out of the saddle shoes he wore with his Christmas outfit, too!


The “Crew”Neck — Personalized Patch Kid Sweatshirt

You don’t have to look far to see the patch trend is everywhere — and particularly big in kid’s clothing. One piece of  this trend goes a long way for me, but I thought it would be such a fun way to capture everything that makes Crew, CREW right now, at age 3.

He LOVES to spot the letter C everywhere, and 3 is his current favorite number, so those were easy places to start. But it was when I was able to find a garbage truck patch on Etsy,  that I knew this project was a must-do.



I pinned a few example pieces to get a feel for arrangement and relative sizes of patches. I ended up ordering this  sweatshirt, as Crew isn’t super big on zip-ups right now (he thinks anything with a zipper is for going outside only, he has yet to understand the heavenly-ness of a hoodie!) and I didn’t want this piece to be limited to outerwear.

The C patch and the 3 patch came from Amazon, everything else was from a variety of sellers on Etsy, although Ebay is a great resource as well if you’re looking for something super-specific. For a 4T sweatshirt, I’d keep the patches smaller, around 1-1/2″ average size. I actually started with a much bigger slice of pizza (admittedly, I wasn’t paying close attention to  the size description) and ended up swapping for something smaller.

When you’re shopping for your patches, I’d recommend varying the sizes and colors and shapes of the patches — I opted to start with a focal point (I knew I wanted the letter jacket “C” to be prominent) — and then built everything else around that. It SEEMS random to throw them all on there, but it took me a few minutes of arranging to get everything to “work” on here and keep it balanced.

Yes, this was a project for my enjoyment, but I’m happy my model is thrilled with it, too.


The Latest in the Basement: The Living Room, Bar, and Golf Simulator

I’ll let the photos do most of the talking here, but as you can see, more progress has been made (and there is still a lot to do!). I’m LOVING the carpet in our living room area, and while I know it serves a technical purpose, I’m really feeling that black ceiling in the golf simulator area!

Picture turf flooring in that space, and behind it in the bar area, this plank vinyl flooring in “Weathered Wood”.

We are doing a few base cabinets (gray by default, but getting painted our exterior color, Cyberspace)…

(and yes…we will set the trash cabinet right side up) 😉 

…and we’ll be adding a couple appliances to the arrangement to include a dishwasher and fridge. I’m excited to do black stainless down here to further differentiate the look from our kitchen, upstairs. With the light flooring and walls, I like the deep colors that will fill up this space.

We’re still debating a couple options for the counters in here, one which will run on top of the cabinets, and the other, facing into the simulator, at bar height.

A couple more peeks into the finish living room area, that lacks furniture until the traffic of construction is done, (but Crew is loving the space to run, and it has me thinking twice about adding any!).

The final touches will be stone around the column you see framed at the bottom of the stairs, and wrapped around the back of the bar counter facing the simulator. Then, it’s time to decorate 😉

As for our overall timeline, I mentioned we hit a plumbing snag. We had to custom-order (read: cha-ching and also more waiting) a shower pan around which to tile, and I’m happy to report it was delivered today! I’ll be back with an update after bathroom tiling and bar flooring get checked off the list!


My Photography Gear

recommended camera gear | www.lifeinyellow.com

I’ve done a LOT of purchasing, experimenting, selling, and swapping my gear out since I really started to get serious about photography a few years ago. A huge piece of getting the right gear is figuring how and what you like to shoot. For me, I photograph families, my own included, and a few interior stills here and there. (I’m also a Canon girl from the start, so I’m sorry, I can’t answer many questions about Nikon or other brands!)

Here’s the rundown of my camera gear:

Canon 6D // My very first “real” camera was a Canon Rebel with kit lens (my model is no longer available, but the equivalent is here) and it’s a wonderful camera with which to begin. If you’re just starting out, this dSLR is plenty powerful as you learn the ins and outs of shooting in manual mode. The 6D, my current body, is a full-frame camera (as opposed to the Rebel which has a cropped sensor), which means the sensor is larger and able to “gather” more information from an image. For example, it performs better in lower light (wonderful for me, as I love to shoot without flash when possible). In my mind, the “ultimate” that I’ve never quite been able to justify is the MarkIV, whose most noticeable difference is the ability to shoot images onto two SD cards simultaneously. For photographers who shoot “unrepeatable” events (births, weddings, things you can’t recreate later), this dual-slot feature is a must-have, in the awful instance an SD card malfunctions, the images are backed up on a second card. There are of course other bells, whistles, and improvements in performance, but I’ve found for what I shoot, the 6D is the perfect “mother size” bowl of porridge.

85mm lens // I began with various zoom lenses and quickly learned I’m a prime lens girl. Prime lenses have a fixed focal length, meaning you can’t zoom in and out — you use your feet to get closer or farther away from your subject.  It’s a personal preference and prime doesn’t always fit every need, but they are tack sharp lenses and let in more light (always the ultimate goal!). I LOVE my 85mm for portraits — it creates beautiful background blur and a comfortable shooting distance (not TOO in baby’s face, but not so far away I’m yelling directions at people).

(Honorable mention: the uber-popular “nifty fifty” (50mm) is a FANTASTIC, budget-friendly prime lens with which to start. It’s also nice and compact, ideal for travel. Newborn cutie, above, was shot with this lens!)

28mm lens // This is the best lens for capturing a wide scene (like this family and the cityscape) and it’s ideal for when I need to shoot a group of people in tight spaces. I also think it’s fun for the whimsy of slightly distorted close-ups of children (not as flattering on adults, FYI!). This lens is also great for interior shots, although some prefer to go even wider, I don’t personally care for the shots of interiors that are SO distorted they feel fake and every wall is curved like a fun house. Must-have lens in my book.

200mm lens // I use this the least, but I’m still so glad to have it when I do. I envision using it even more now that Crew is getting into sports and activities where I can’t be quite so close but still want to capture detail. (In the shot above, Page was at the bottom of a pretty big hill, several yards away.) It captures beautiful, crisp detail, and in part because of the length, creates gorgeous background blur. My first telephoto (long) lens was HEAVY and HUGE. I like that I can be more discreet in a crowd, but still photograph from a reasonable distance, with this one.

430 speedlite // Gorgeous light just isn’t always available. I rarely use flash, but this one has been working for me from the beginning. It’s nice to have just in case a room is less well lit than I hoped when I show up to an in-home session, and the ability to bounce the light in other directions (aka NOT right at your subject — hello, deer in headlights!) allows for more flattering final images. (Budget note: If you don’t think you will use flash all that much, I’ve heard from several photogs that they have been very pleased with cheaper, off-brand alternatives like this one.)

Gary Fong diffuser // I’ve had this on my list for a while and after seeing a photographer bust his out recently at an event I attended, I asked for it for Christmas. I had to know if it was all it was cracked up to be as a complement to my speedlite — and it totally is, as I used it on the above interior shot on a VERY gloomy day. To me — it’s a nonnegotiable now, and I love that the images don’t scream “I used my flash in this one!!”. If you’re going to buy a flash, don’t buy it without this counterpart.

wireless remote // A must if you want to get IN some pictures! You can set the timer all you want, but sometimes it’s nice to just know exactly when that camera is clicking. You can easily hold this discreetly in your hand while cuddling up to your favorites and snap away. (Tip: posing yourself without showing the remote takes a little practice — but it’s small, and in the above shot, it’s hidden in my left hand.)

Other Notes:

Camera bag — I don’t have one! I’m that risk-taker who throws a spare lens into the pocket of my vest and goes — for now. (I HAVE tried and discarded a couple options so far. If you have suggestions, please send them my way!)

Editing — I shoot in RAW and edit in Photoshop ACR (although Lightroom is another great option).

Online storage / Business website — For my rather simple needs (ClickSmith is a small part-time gig for me), Zenfolio has been my vendor of choice.

Photography Classes — Online, I loved the 101 and 102 courses at Shoot FLY Shoot when I was first getting started. If you’re in the Des Moines area, I HIGHLY recommend ALL of the classes at Christian Photo in Urbandale.

ETA: Crew does not yet have his own camera (the one pictured came in a happy meal!) — but I’m looking seriously at this one to get him started!

*Post contains affiliate links.

Crew’s Reading List (the 3 year old version)

I’m so thrilled that Crew LOVES a good reading session, and is starting to “read” books back to us as well. I think this age is particularly fun for books, because the stories become more elaborate, and the illustrations more like works of art. Characters, plot, morals of the story all begin to exist. Questions are explained. Concepts are broken down. Real discussions start to evolve after the close of the cover.

You can actually see those little wheels turning and growing.

While there are what seem like zillions of titles in rotation right now (and several borrowed regulars from the library as well!), I’m doing a run-down today of some serious favorites. As I compiled this list, I realized we’ve only picked out about half of these — the others have been gifts from family and friends. We lucky to have a bunch of book lovers in our “village”!

Dragons Love Tacos — (and the sequel, Dragons Love Tacos 2) I’ve actually had to hide these books from time to time. They’re adorable, but Page and I both hit a point where we just. couldn’t. read. them. anymore. Dragons and dinosaurs go hand in hand for Crew I think, and the idea that they breathe fire is highly interesting to him. Read with a little extra drama for fun points. 😉

My First Mazes — Not a story, but a worthwhile mention. All about the mazes, I’ve been a big fan of this one and this one, both of which progressively get harder as the child works through the pages. Similarly, this one gifted by our neighbor follows the same process, but I like that it offers a little more context as far as what happens when the maze is complete (i.e. get the car to the garage) and then asks a follow-up question. Yes, there are some apps that offer mazes, but Crew seems to prefer the pen and paper and I think there’s value in working on both pen control and having that tactile experience. We can’t buy these fast enough before he’s through them!

First Math — I’m a self-proclaimed math nerd and Crew is right at that point where he can identify numbers and count objects but is ready for a little more. This super visual, lift-a-flap approach helps him work through when you have 2 of something and 3 of something else…and then reveal the answer. I tend to prefer the more “workbook” type content from Usborne as opposed to the stories. At the suggestion of a rep, I also brought home Take Away which has a slide and find approach to subtraction. It’s a little beyond him at the moment, but will be great in a few more months!

After the Fall — I could not love the concept behind this book more. This is the story of what happened after Humpty Dumpty got back up again. And the author is a Caldecott winner. Enough said, right?

How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight — Crew is very into dinosaurs, so when my mom found this book for Christmas, I knew it would be a hit. There is a whole series of “How Do Dinosaurs Say…” and each version there is a glossary of the types of dinosaurs in the front/back cover, so you can identify them as you go through the pages.

Cook In A Book series — we currently have Pizza and Pancakes (and Tacos is arriving for Valentines Day). Crew LOVES to cook, real or make believe, and is super interested in units of measurement (“how many do I go to, Mom?”) so something that can walk him through the same recipe time and again is right up his alley. I think these are such cleverly designed books — spinning a wheels lets the sauce suddenly “appear” spooned onto the crust, tabs allow kids to “pour” ingredients into a bowl, you set the dial on the oven, you flip the pancake onto a plate, etc.

A Loud Winter’s Nap — Fun to have books about winter, but not specifically holiday. This was gifted to Crew for his birthday and my favorite part is the gorgeous illustrations. The lesson is about a change in perspective (“tortoises don’t like winter!”) and it hits on lots of things that are big in our world this season — snowball fights, sledding, etc.

I Stink — we actually bought the board book of this story when Crew first discovered his love for garbage trucks (around 18 months) and if I’m being honest, the ridiculous language drove me a little crazy. So many adjectives and sound effects. It’s a mouthful to read aloud. And yet, when we received it again in full format at his birthday this year, and have since rented the companion DVD from the library, I see just HOW into the overdone verbiage Crew is, and I’ve come full circle. Also, the full version references a few times “crew” as in the garbagemen, and someone is downright DELIGHTED thinking it’s written just for him.

All of the Elephant & Piggie books — we own some and borrow others from the library — this duo is a big hit in our house. I purchased the first couple to prep Crew (and okay, Page, too) after I bought tickets to see “We Are In A Play!” at our local childrens theatre. I love that the books navigate lessons that are tricky (waiting is hard, sharing, etc) and the simple illustrations and emphasis on words/character dialogue is a great primer to focusing on the language to follow along with the story as opposed to spelling it out in elaborate pictures.

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site — we’ve had this one for a year now, but it’s still a regular favorite. Aside from the fact he loves to name all the construction vehicles, the rhythmic writing is kind of lulling and by the end of the book, it really does have a wind-down effect for bedtime.

Machines At Work — I remember my own brothers being obsessed with this title. We are almost beyond it in terms of the simple writing, but Crew is still in love with identifying the machines, and prefers to be the one who “reads” (recites) it back to us.

My Very Own Name — Some family friends gifted this personalized book that incorporates a rhyming story with a letter-by-letter building of his first and last name. Crew loved from the start hearing himself referred to in the story, and identifying the animals throughout, which are cataloged in the back for reference. As he’s gotten better about identifying letters and spelling beyond his first name, he is SO. PROUD. to correctly predict each next letter. Awesome gift idea!

Ragweed’s Farm Dog Handbook — my aunt’s background as a librarian means ANYthing she recommends is sure to be a success. She gifted this title to us and it’s one of my favorites to read because of the humor. It also doesn’t feel like any other style of childrens story I’ve read in terms of the “handbook” approach to a topic.

I ALWAYS love hearing others’ must-read lists, so hit me up with them 🙂 Happy reading!

You can read my list of toddler book recommendations here.

*post contains affiliate links*

Basement Progress: The Gym

The fan is up, the lights are on, there are handles on the doors and the TV is hung! The gym has come a long way since I last shared about its progress.

We are only waiting on a series of wall mirrors and thanks to my birthday gift (thanks, Mom and Dad!) the ballet barre is ready and waiting to be installed in this far corner. Can you say, “no excuses”?!

More to come, soon!