The Book List at Three (and a HALF!)

If you’ve spent a minute on this blog, you know we are total suckers for children’s books around here. I always manage to find room in the budget for the bookstore, we go to the library on the regular for even more, and I’m always on the hunt for new recommendations from others as well. I blogged our most recent list here for age 3 here (and our 12-24 month list here) and only six months later, the interests continue to evolve and we discover even more awesome titles. Nothing is set in stone yet…but I think we might have a Halloween costume this year based on a favorite book. ๐Ÿ™‚ Below is a rundown of a few of the current favorites:

Square and Triangle (of the Shape trilogy) — I love the monochromatic illustrations in these books and the simple stories between the character shapes, that are laced with a little humor. After Triangle was a hit, I quickly reserved a copy of Square when it was released…and Circle is due out next spring.

I’m a big fan of Jon Klassen’s books, and similar to the shape series, there is some comedy woven into I Want My Hat Back, a simple tale of a a bear who’s lost his hat.

I wasn’t sure how Be Kind would go over (would there be enough “action” to the story to keep him interested?), but Crew was captivated by all the practices of kindness, and has been asking ever since on the daily, “that was kind, right Mom?”

I had added Stuck to our Amazon wish list, and happened upon it at the library shortly after. Let’s just say after out-loud giggles, this one will likely become a permanent fixture in our house. A funny story of a boy who gets his balloon stuck in a tree and throws item after item into the tree to knock it down, and by the end is throwing larger than life objects.

Another Oliver Jeffers book, we love the illustrations in Here We Are, a quick run-down of what it is to live here on Earth. The page with alllll the things living in the sea is particularly captivating and always generates a lot of questions. ๐Ÿ™‚

We received Shh! We Have A Plan as a board book when Crew was born, and I loved the illustrations (do you sense a theme here?) from the get-go. But recently, it has received all new life now that Crew really likes the STORY behind the pictures. (Crew lives out this story in our yard now with the birds — hilarious!) (We’ve loved every title by this author, and I think we need to own Little Owl Lost, next!)

The Book with No Pictures is in heavy rotation lately. Funny and silly, I love that it encourages more listening to the words and less relying on images to follow along. Be prepared to sound ridiculous when reading this one. ๐Ÿ˜‰

All of the above can be found on Amazon but I currently have a big Usborne order en route as I type this — we’ve never been disappointed by any of our reads from there and I’m anxious to check out the newest releases and share favorites from there, soon!

What are your kiddos’ current favorite reads??

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Age 3: Q2

It’s the summer your freckles arrived. <3 Just in time for Three and a Half.

Let’s jump right in!

We got a SLOWWWW start to spring (snow through April!), but we managed to tough out plenty of adventures while we waited for the warmer temps to show up.

It helped that you’re getting more and more content to play with one activity at a time, for a longer period of time. Water beads and this science kit have been a serious win lately!

Some of the latest details about you and your world…

You detest stickers, but love stamps and temporary tattoos.You’re clocking in at 37 pounds and change, and stand about 39″ tall on a good day.

You love nothing more than when it’s “daddy, mommy and me — ALL of us!” doing something together, even better if the family is extended beyond just us.

You truly hate to disappoint us or be in trouble, and I’ve gotten a much better understanding of the term “threenager” this quarter — lots of dramatic emotion when you’re sad/upset and you can well up with real tears at the drop of the hat!

This seems to be especially true on days you skip a nap — which is why we’re keeping them for now! You fall asleep around 9 most nights, still often end up in our bed somewhere after midnight, and are up at 7 or so, still napping 1.5 to 2 hours most days.

Your eating habits continue to improve…your yes category is still significantly smaller than your no category, but you’ve expanded which veggies you’ll eat, you’ll try a taste of most things with coaxing, and you blew my mind when my HARD NO TO PASTA kid asked for spaghetti for dinner. We ordered some, assuming it would be our next day lunch for work, but you proceeded to eat a ton of it. Now if you would just give mac ‘n’ cheese a chance….it would change your life.

You’re trying really hard to grasp the concept of time – minutes, hours, months, and annually occurring events like holidays and birthdays. “How many minutes?” “What comes after Easter?” and “after I wake up from bedtime?” are common questions as you try to piece it all together. Even if it’s still months away, every week itโ€™s something new you want to be for Halloween (most recently an acorn, before that a butterfly, before that a ghostbuster). Good thing you have some time. ๐Ÿ˜‰

We took our first vacation in over a year that was more than a quick overnight road trip, back in May. Let’s just say you were born to vacate — you ask weekly to go somewhere new again. It was such a treat to unplug for a few days and just be super present with little itinerary. I think you picked up on our lack of stress and distraction — in short, we had FUN!

Your coordination and bravery are increasing — we opted for a Ziggle for a new outdoor toy lately and it did not take you long to figure out how to propel yourself around and spin out in circles!

By far a highlight this quarter was a trip to the McNeilus plant on our way to a Twin Cities weekend with friends. After your news segment about loving garbage trucks went viral, the incredible team at McNeilus invited you to come tour the campus where they manufacture trucks for, among others, Waste Management. To say you were in heaven is putting it mildly! ๐Ÿ˜‰

We were so touched by the generosity of this company – they gave up their afternoon to show you around, let you test drive some of the trucks that were ready to ship out, and sent you with so much swag to take home!

The same trip took us to catch up with good friends who moved out of town, and they showed us around their new digs including the Minnesota Childrens Museum, and some other favorite kiddo haunts around town. The shot above doesn’t do this museum justice — you were literally bouncing about four floors up and surrounded by windows, among the St. Paul skyline!

You live for trips to the pool and are all about swimming independently as much as you can — you’re at that tipping point of being able to swim independently, but you aren’t nearly as good as you THINK you are — so we are watching you like a hawk, and when we want a little backup, we still bust out the puddlejumper. ๐Ÿ™‚

Three, just like every other age, is proving to be oh so fun. And as much as you love to tell us we’re “your favorite mommy and daddy” — you are OUR favorite, through and through, Little Man.

Keep spreading your magic.

Love,
Mom

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Inspired: Project Faceless

A few things have been happening lately, and they’re inspiring some changes in how I approach sharing our life online.

A few months back, I woke to a friend’s comment tagging me in the Instagram post by a baby food brand. A major, household, parent-centric brand. There in the post was my child staring back at me. The photo was: taken from my blog without my permission (strike 1), photoshopped (strike 2), of my minor child – again no permission (MAJOR strike 3), and even if I could have seen past all of that, I wasn’t so much as credited in the caption or a comment. My mama blood boiled, I worked to get the post removed from their feed (and an apology was issued — but seriously, WHO is running their social media that they think is acceptable?). I ultimately got around to being frustrated with MYSELF that the content was out there in the first place to be misused.

I won’t pretend for a second that I’m any “big” blogger, but over the years, I’ve experienced strangers asking me if I’m “Life in Yellow” (much more common than my actual name ha). I always kind of laughed it off and figured it’s par for the course when you put so much of your life online. Then we had our son, and as babies do, he changed rapidly from month to month these early years. He now has hit that stretch where he still looks quite similar now as he did a full year ago, and thus he’s easier to recognize. Something we’ve learned as we’ve had a couple encounters where people who’ve never met him (innocently enough) remark that they know him, and even call him by name. While we KNOW these people mean nothing but good, this recognition coupled with our son’s instant bestie status with EVERYONE, for lack of a better term, freaked me out.

I was moved by this podcast by some of my faves, Young House Love, on protecting their children’s privacy. Once sharing on the same level I have (birth stories, monthly updates, etc) they no longer use names or show faces of their kids. Their children, while older than our own, are that much more in need of their own space and privacy, and as John points out at one point, it’s up to THEM to decide who, if anyone, they want to be online.

This moved me, big time.

Privacy, safety, exploitation (even if the “innocent” kind, by a brand trying to sell toddler snacks) – MORE than enough reason for me to make this call. I shared my thoughts with Page and he was quick to agree it made sense. The photographer in me (and of course the proud mom) longs to share every little bit, but I’ve always tried to find a balance, and now more than ever. There is plenty to share, in creative ways, that allows me to blog about motherhood (hello, cute room decor, outfits, stocking stuffers and party planning!), and still protect my son. I’ve been further inspired by the work of #projectfaceless photographers, like this one, who are beautifully and authentically capturing childhood in creatively anonymous ways. Challenge accepted!

I know there’s no perfect way to do this. Yes, he will still show up in our private social media. Yes, he may still show up in my blog instastories (that don’t get saved) and no, I’m not going to work backward and delete every picture I’ve posted. Yes, I realize he was just on national news for his love of garbage trucks, and there’s no net I can cast to reign that in. So I’m just making the conscious decision now, going forward, to be more aware and share less here and on the blog’s social media. I LOVE following along with the littles of bloggers and others who share their lives publicly, but this is simply the right choice, right now, for US. Thanks for the support as we go faceless! <3

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5 Boy Outfits for Summer

Hat by Joules | Tee by Tailor Vintage | Shoes by Children’s Place | Shorts by Target

I had so much fun digging through Crew’s closet for Spring Outfits, that I had to do it again for summer. We’ve been hit HARD by the heat lately, so the layers are fewer and the outfits much simpler this round, but we also have our sunnies on serious repeat, which has been a fun new accessory to incorporate. (Read: Mom is buying ALL the cute little boy sunglasses!) And of course, we get to do some cute SWIM outfits as well. Bring it on, heat wave!

Hat by Under Armourย  | Shirt by Rockets of Awesome | Shoes by Native | Shorts by Target

Rash Guard by Hanna Andersson | Sunglasses by Target | Swim Boardies by Zara Kids

Button-down and Tie by Janie & Jack | Shorts by Gap | Sandals by OshKosh

Tee by CrewCuts | Sunglasses by Gap | Shorts by Monica & Andy | Boots by Hunter

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Basement Update: Into the Home Stretch

I last posted some updates about our basement bar/living room here, and the guest bedroom / bathroom here, earlier this winter.

Since then, it’s been flooring glory!

Basement Progress | www.lifeinyellow.com

Beginning in the bar, we put down a “luxury vinyl” (that term kills me) at the recommendation of a couple different flooring experts, because of the fact this is basement level. It’s still dusty in this pic, but we love the variation in the color, and the texture that looks like real scraped wood.

Basement Progress | www.lifeinyellow.com

I’m totally psyched about how the cabinet color turned out (“Cascade” by Sherwin William), and it was all in all a piece-of-cake job. The bar will have some copper accents, including this cabinet hardware. After weighing a TON of counter options, we’ve decided to stain some butcher block for the counters to match tones in the floor, and keep some woodsy depth going — it was starting to feel like a light of “light” between the carpet, paint color, and white trim.

Basement Progress | www.lifeinyellow.com

In the bathroom, we went several rounds of plumbing WTF moments — the super short version of a very long story is that our basement was originally plumbed for a tub/shower combo — not what we wanted. And because the builder had already been in here once to jack up our foundation and move the pipe once before (it was originally placed in our storage closet on the other side of the wall — face palm), we didn’t want to do that yet again. So we settled for an above rough-in “special” (read: expensive and must be custom ordered — budget increase/timeline delay GRR!) shower pan insert. To make it feel as little contractor grade as possible, we opted to surround it with subway tile up to the ceiling, and hopefully draw eyes away from it altogether. I love the contrast of the dark grout on the white tile, and grounding it all with the dark floor tile and light grout that makes it pop.

Basement Progress | www.lifeinyellow.com

A standard shower door won’t fit the space and while we looked at some alternative options, we are MORE than happy to put in one of the many cool rod options I’ve seen popping up, along with an extra long curtain and call it a day down here. This portion of the project ended up way over budget, both in time and money, and I’m okay that a curtain tucked to the side still shows off the tile. A toilet, some trim, and a vanity that Page would like to build himself will finish up this bad boy.

Basement Progress | www.lifeinyellow.com

The basement is just one of many projects in the works right now, but as soon as there’s more to show (hopefully just a final “DONE” tour!), I’ll be back!

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Mothers Day Gift Ideas (and they’re all Prime!)

A set of ESSENTIAL OILS. At the very least, they just smell good and can be added to the bathtub. But truly, the uses for these fab little bottles are literally endless, from cleaning to sleep support to stress relief and so much more.

The perfect BEACH TOTE (and the option to customize it with her initials or your family last name) just in time for pool season. I love the shape and bold stripe on this bag. Those poms, though!

Yes, it’s all about the POM TASSEL CHARM to clip on a purse or straw tote for the summer. Love all the color options for this one and she can move it from one favorite bag to another.

The cutest YOGA MAT BAG. If downward dog is her thing, she probably already has the mat. This is the perfect accessory and regardless of her style, you can’t miss with black and white.

This MUD MASK is well worth the splurge and she’ll get several pampering sessions from it.

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Favorite Things: Age 3

Whenever I’m shopping for kids of other ages or genders, I’m always hunting for a gift guide to get me thinking. Even as Crew gets older, I’m checking out gift guides for the age group just above his, to help keep the ideas fresh. Crew has been LOVING the same few items lately, so I thought it made sense to do a round-up as we approach the half mark (what?!) of age three:

  • This set of upper and lower case letter puzzles has gotten SO. MUCH. USE. It’s without a doubt the number one thing Crew has been playing with as of late. He gets such a thrill out of being quizzed (and quizzing us) and matching up the “big and littles” of each letter. He also has made a game out of one of us racing him to see who can put the letters in their puzzle, first. The listing we bought is now unavailable, but the dimensions, price point, even the font style onย this set are identical.
  • All the grabbers. Claws. Robot arms. Whatever you want to call them, I can’t really articulate what it is about these, but each one is more exciting than the next. Crew loves the coordination exercise of trying to pick up toys with them (bonus motivation to clean up!) and the ones that have animal heads like thisย dinosaur that can “chomp” are extra cool.
  • The Cook In A Book series is one I’ve blogged before (we have all three titles!), but they continue to be SUCH a hit.
  • I bought a couple of these Tiny Tonkas for a trip last year as something small to carry-on and knew the garage door “things inside other things” would be a big hit. Turns out we’ve been collecting them every since. They’ve become a (well played with!) collection and the garages all hook together to form a super garage for all the vehicles — which coincidentally are also the perfect size for running through the many garbage trucks he plays with.
  • Memory is a favorite game. It began with a set he picked out in the dollar section, and then after so. many. rounds. I’ve added a couple different sets to our stash, just to switch it up. Most recently, we acquired this magnetic set for some upcoming travels, but it’s also come in handy at restaurants.
  • Boys just need to MOVE. This scooter came from the Easter Bunny and it’s been a great energy burner and challenge in balancing, coordination, and learning how to brake. It’s a great “first” scooter because of the sturdy two-front-wheels design. He can focus on just figuring it out without fear of falling over.
  • Anything that shoots darts, squirts waterย (great for the bath!), or launches little foam rockets — all a gold star in this guy’s book. Between the thrill of cause and effect, and mastering aim at a target (often, our ceiling fans!) these have all been favorites. (Tip: If you go the stomp rocket route, go with the “Jr.” model for this age group, so they can actually have enough force to make it work!)
  • Not a “toy” but might as well be — this pancake pen was part of his Valentine loot, and it combines a couple of loves — making letters/spelling his name, and making pancakes. (PS — I love to gift the pancake pen with the above-mentioned Pancakes book, together!)

Anything to add? I’m always on the hunt for a new favorite!

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Crew Age 3: Q1

And just like that, we’re a quarter of the way through three already.

So many sound effects, super powers, gruff lower-octave tough-guy talking. “I can do ANYTHING!” attitude and frequent mention of “protecting” people and “saving the day”. Lots of live action pretending to be the PJ Masks, the ghostbusters, and a T-Rex. You are ALL. IN. when it comes to the world of imagination. And you have BIG reactions to things right now, often with catch phrases you’ve memorized from characters you love.

All letters. All the time. You want to read so badly — you insist on “reading” (memorized) books and you stop at every sign, shirt, etc. to spell out the letters. You ask what signs say or make up what they say, speaking in a dialect that suggests you are sounding out whatever the (made up) text reads. You are starting to connect letters and the sounds they make, and words with the same sound. Several times when reading a book with you, you will go through a whole page of text and name each letter. You’re trying to tell time and you can correctly count up to thirty and are so much better at tracking items that you’re counting (you rarely skip or double-count something anymore).

Your eating habits are slowly loosening up. Several times you’ve tried a bite of something new without so much as a second ask by us (or something even a first!) and while I’d still absolutely categorize you as a picky eater, we can find something on just about any menu that you will happily eat now. Phew. (Although noodles of any kind are still a hard pass!) We continue to get the reports from school that you are a “really good eater” now (?!) and will try just about anything they put in front of you. I chalk it up to peer pressure from your friends!

You are mastering the scooter you got from the Easter Bunny. It wipes you out, but you can rotate swimming freestyling and rolling to your back for a break when needed, back and forth until you swim the width of the pool at swim lessons. You have just enough confidence that you can get around in water, that I’m a little nervous for pool season ha! You continue to play soccer through a school program and I was impressed how much better you were when we got the net out recently, after a few months of snow.

You’re up over 3 pounds from your well check in January, and at least another inch in height. Most of your pants are suddenly too short — yet another reason we need shorts season to just start already! You’re in 2T bottoms for the most part with a few 3s mixed in, and firmly size 3T in tops. We recently had to replace all shoes in the next size up as well. All that growing is helping you sleep better — the phase that lasted ALL of fall and through the holidays where you’d come into our bed most nights somewhere after midnight, has nearly vanished. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve woken you in our bed. You’re an easy one to bunk with, but I’m okay that we have our space again. ๐Ÿ™‚ You’ve skipped a nap a few days here and there, in particular if it’s a day you slept in that morning, but other days you can easily snooze for a couple of hours. We play it by ear anymore and I’m just grateful we’re into age three without really ever “fighting” naps when they’re needed.

You continue to love to cook (in the kitchen for real and as the chef in a restaurant in your play kitchen). You’ve branched out significantly in the toys you want to play with, but garbage trucks still have your heart, and the local news station even recently stopped by to film a segment about the love affair. When we read, you gravitate heavily toward the alphabet-based books. You are turning into quite the entertainer and like to try and make us laugh. “Guys! Watch THIS!” is also a repeat phrase right now.

You show SO much of both your dad and me in that we want to be experts in something and correction is sometimes hard to take. ๐Ÿ™‚ But when it comes to language and learning new words, we’ve both remarked how amazed we are with how you process. We see examples like the following nearly daily: you were making a comment about the grid design in our doors and said something like “look, there are five windows in this door” and your dad said “yeah, there are five panels”. “Panels? Did you say panels, dad?” “Yes buddy, panels.” “Panels. Yeah there are five PANELS.” You are just unbelievably thirsty to learn all the words, you’re determined to get them right, and it’s the one thing you will let us correct you on.

We love watching you learn and grown and figure the world out, one step at a time. I love seeing big boy traits like compassion and protection coming out more and more, and of course your unwavering enthusiasm and positive attitude about everything, just makes the day brighter. You can of course test us like any three year old can, but we’re grateful nothing seems to bum you out for very long, and you bounce back quickly. Looking forward to more of this fun year we call three.

All the love,
Mom

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