Finishing the Basement: our home gym

gym

Paint color is Sherwin Williams “Oceanside”. You can view all our basement paint picks here.

The gym is our basement level is currently the most finished space so far, but still a work in progress. Today I’m sharing the final plan (and inspiration board, above) for this space, along with a couple progress pics!

gym drywalled

The flooring was in before we even drywalled (Page used the horse stall mats similar to what you might see in a CrossFit or other gym). We have since drywalled, trimmed, painted, and added a ceiling fan and TV. The doors that will let the window light through to the main living area are hung as well, just waiting on the door handles. I don’t have a photo that shows the last few details, but here’s a gist picture thus far…

gym painted

The final touches will include a series of full length mirrors on the south wall, and across them a ballet barre (yasssss!!!!) and eventually, a wall of planked wood across the south (window) wall to bring in a little warmth to the space. I’ve already squeezed in a couple workouts down here and am LOVING the space.

We’ll be back with the FINAL reveal, and I’ll have Page chime in on all the equipment (much more his gig than mine) for anyone curious!

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Finishing the Basement: The Bathroom

Bathroom Inspiration Board | www.lifeinyellow.com

Mirror | Sconces | Faucet
Paint color pictured is Sherwin Williams “City Loft” — see all of our paint picks here

I’m proud to say we’ve stayed remarkably on budget for this basement project, now that we have drywall, trim, paint, and electrical/fixtures all behind us. But we KNEW when we requested our first flooring/shower estimate that we were asking for all of the “wants” on our wishlist. So somewhat expectedly, the estimate came back and we choked. For the first time, we stopped to reevaluate a bit as to where we wanted to splurge, and save, to keep ourselves in check financially. Much of the estimate (and much of where we could reevaluate and save) was allocated to various elements of the bathroom.

I’ve had to remind myself that while I was living out all my bath tile dreams in the showroom, this is – in fact – just the basement bathroom and the shower will only get used a handful of times a year, if that. It’s a must-have for our guests, but unless I plan on moving down to the basement level and making it my master, I could apply a little “look for less” to the plan. :) #realitycheck

The inspo board above was put together while we were still picking items to estimate, but the overall look/feel will stay very much the same. It was easy to identify the look we were going for in here — Pinterest is a great tool for gathering the styles that grab you time and again! My board quickly showed several trends and elements that needed to be incorporated, blending classic tile with restoration-style light fixtures, a pivot mirror, window pane shower doors, an open-concept vanity with exposed plumbing, and a mix of black and chrome hardware.

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source | source | source

The beauty of going back and swapping out materials is that a) the challenge is kind of fun to see how much you can save for a similar effect, and b) once I settle on the new option, I often forget what I had even planned on doing the first time around. Picking a different but very similar floor tile will save us over 50% of the original estimate, as did shopping around for our subway tile and hiring our own installer. We’ve planned all along to hack our own vanity, similar to what we did in the basement of our first house. In part, this saves us money, and we haven’t found any ready-made options out there that aren’t well into the four digit price tags (keep repeating with me…it’s just the basement bathroom…). :)

FullSizeRender

I leave you with the current status of the bathroom –more to come soon!

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Potty Training Essentials (and 5 things that worked for us)

Potty Training Essentials | www.lifeinyellow.com
potty training seat | flushable toddler wipes | OXO travel potty and extra bags | Even Firefighters Go to the Potty | Potty
Big Boy Underpants  (girl version here!)| the BEST underpants by Kickee Pants (available in girl styles, too)

If you follow Life In Yellow on Instagram, you may have spotted the exciting news at our house…no more diapers! People love to tell you that boys in particular are hard to potty train…but I found it to be pretty darn easy overall! I think we put it off anticipating a lot of dragged out progress, but all in all, after a couple of days hanging almost exclusively at home as we all figured out the mechanics, within a week we were feeling like he had it about 95% mastered and had several (successful!) trips out of the house under our belt.

Every kid is different and of course ready at different times. Crew had become way more interested in everything bathroom-related, and I took the interest as reason enough to give it a go, before the window of opportunity passed us by.

I think this kind of stuff is ultimately as hard as you make it out to be and it’s easy to overthink it. I took the approach of “okay, maybe this won’t work and if not that’s okay, but let’s plan that it WILL, so I’ll have all the stuff I need on hand“. I also read enough to educate myself on the basics, but not so much that I started to psyche myself out with a bunch of “rules”. If we got a day in and it became clear I had misread all his readiness signs, I was completely prepared to chill out and try again in a couple months. We didn’t follow any set schedule or “method”, we just picked a weekend he was healthy/happy and we had little on the agenda, so we could tag-team the extra-close attention we needed pay for a couple days while he got the hang of it all. Oh, and obviously we TALKED. UP. a garbage truck toy as bribery. 😉

Again and again, I look to bloggers and moms who’ve “been there” for product suggestions and reviews, so today I’m sharing my punch list of products that helped to make potty training a piece of cake! If you’re interested further, I made a few notes below about the items on the list, and a couple of tips that worked for us!

  1. Potty versus potty seat — it made sense to me to just stick him on a regular potty from the get-go. At his school, they use a “real” one (although lower to the ground), and when out and about, he’ll have no choice but to use the real ones, and I didn’t want him to be afraid of them. I bought a couple kinds to have one on each level at home, but this one was our favorite — comfy for long sits and no seams to pinch anything!
  2. Flushable wipes and a travel seatbecause it’s way easier than TP and frankly more “familiar” to him to use a wipe. We did add a waterproof liner to his car seat but have yet to experience an accident. It gives me major peace of mind to make further ventures from home if I know we have the travel potty in the trunk!
  3. Lots of books for motivation — We started reading here and there about going to the potty a couple months ago and his interest in the books directly reflected his interest in the potty — one of the ways I felt he showed he was ready was to ask to read them much more frequently and then reference them when we were in a bathroom. I was drawn to the books that could be a bit more specific in terms of gender, and that, for the most part featured the “big” potty versus the little ones (see note #1!).
  4. Underpants (SOFT ones!) — I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t do characters on my kid’s clothing! But when mom after mom told me to let him pick some, I did — and despite the fact he barely knew Thomas or Paw Patrol, in the moment he seemed to like them, so we took a few home. And I hated them. They were cheap and scratchy and my apparently pampered son told me more than once he didn’t want them on. While it’s hard to find many aside from the cheapos that run small enough for a two-year-old, I kept on with my search. If you need undies that run on the smaller side and/or have a younger and smaller potty-trainer on your hands (my stash of adorable Gap ones have yet to fit!), I bought pairs that fit like a dream from the notoriously soft Kickee Pants brand (pictured above) and this set from Boden, also super soft. I laughed out loud when, on more than one occasion, Crew told me “oh they’re so nice and soft!”. Hey — whatever it takes!
  5. Rewards — I printed out a sticker chart and bought an arsenal of stickers…and should have known better. My kid just isn’t really jazzed by stickers in the first place — so a chart that lets him put up a sticker each time he tries/goes/whatever…just didn’t help. We quickly changed course and he got a couple of mini M&Ms each time he tried – success or not. I had heard stories of kids “rationing it” in an attempt to get more successes/treats, and I didn’t want that! I worried that the M&M thing would backfire over time, but we just slowly phased it out or “forgot” or distracted him after the first couple days, and he no longer expected any treats after a couple more days. We also used suckers in the beginning as a reward for trying — the fact that they last longer was great for minutes on end of sitting and waiting, with the deal being that he had to be on the potty to have one. And of course there was the BIG reward that we talked up the whole first weekend — and it became our first big potty-trained outing to go get it — going to the store to pick out a new garbage truck. Whenever Crew was getting tired of our requests to try (after the first few he was kind of over it) we talked up the truck all weekend long to keep him motivated – and it worked!

And finally — celebrate! Page and I busted out dance moves and cheers and we shouted it from the rooftop driveway! 😉 Guys! We haven’t changed a diaper in over a week — life is amazing! :)

(And in other news…) 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

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Finishing the Basement: The Guest Bedroom

Guestroom in progress

Having built two homes, I’m very familiar with picking out elements for my home without being able to actually see/touch/walk through the ACTUAL finished space beforehand. Finishing the basement level is a little bit easier because at least I can reference the room size and take measurements anytime I want (versus trying to do the math off a set of blueprints and “guess” what 4 feet feels like!). Even so, the walls aren’t yet painted (as we speak!) carpet isn’t yet in (although we’ve picked it out — it’s a slightly cooler/lighter color than what’s pictured below, but same pattern) and the lights aren’t yet turned on (fixtures on order!). So, pulling together a couple versions of a quick inspiration board helps me immensely to figure out the vibe I’m going for in a room. I like too many styles and one moment I’m pinning everything “transitional farmhouse”, the next it’s all “rustic/industrial”. Trying to keep a balanced blend that isn’t too pigeonholed is tricky!

Guest Room Planning | www.lifeinyellow.com

Bed | Ceiling Light | Throw Pillows | Artwork | Dresser | Wall Sconce
Carpet pictured is Tuftex Peak Talent in “Misty Dawn” — (ours will be in “Drizzle”)
Paint color pictured is Sherwin Williams “Faint Coral” — see all of our paint picks here

Guestroom Inspiration Board | www.lifeinyellow.com

Alternate Headboard | Alternate Ceiling Light

Over the next couple weeks, I’m excited to share a room-by-room plan for our lower level. Unless our money tree blooms out back overnight, it will certainly take a little time to pull together all the finishing touches, but we feel pretty stoked about the progress that’s coming along and, furnished or not, we hope to have some usable space by summer!

For today, I’m sharing the inspiration for our guest bedroom. The people at Casper and I created a little checklist of the elements needed in this room to make it inviting to future guests!

Guest Room Essentials | www.lifeinyellow.com

Bedding. Coming into the warmer months, I love the idea of keeping it fresh/crisp with bright white sheets, a light down comforter, and a couple light blankets folded at the foot of the bed. But I’m also already thinking ahead to the holidays, and how to bring in some Christmas coziness — flannel sheets and some festive throw pillows.

Artwork. A must for giving your guests a glimpse of your decorating personality! I have a couple little pieces to sprinkle around the room that are specific to where we live and represent Des Moines for the people visiting us here. I also am planning to make an updated version of the art in our upstairs guest room that displays all the deets for accessing our wifi. For a larger, focal piece in the room, I’m loving the colors in this print from Minted.

Pillows. There’s nothing worse than sleeping on a flat/cheap/”extra” pillow when you’re staying over, and I’m all about investing a little in the foundation pieces; a good mattress and quality pillows. You don’t want your guests tossing and turning all night!

Travel Conveniences. As I mentioned, we’ll displaying our wifi in the room, and a TV will have DirecTV for more entertainment. I’ll be adding a little basket in here with everything from some spare toothbrushes and travel-sized bath products, to a small emergency kit (nail clippers, stain pen, etc) and a couple of leisure books and magazines. I want to wait and see how big the room feels after the bed is moved in, but I’m planningon either a bench at the end of the bed, or a luggage rack in the corner to make accessing suitcases easier. When guests actually arrive, I like to add bottled water and a fresh glass on the dresser.

Lighting. The less-than-stellar shot of the room above was taken on my phone, and what you can’t see to the left is the little nook entry from the hall. We need a very flush sconce on that wall to bring in a little light, but still let the door open, left, into the room so that our guests can easily reach the light switches on the right wall. (So many things you have to think about!) Guests aren’t as familiar with the layout of your home as you are, and you want to make it easy so they aren’t bumping around in the dark, fumbling for lamps. Aside from a small bedside lamp, the lighting in here (both the sconce in the entry nook, and the star ceiling light over the bed) will all be tied to a single set of switches. Side note: While I’m always a fan of a ceiling fan in a bedroom, because of the way our soffit bumps into this room, we opted for something smaller on the ceiling, and an oscilating fan on the floor…I’m not going to lie, it’s been fun picking out pretty light fixtures for the ceiling in here, instead of boring old fans!

Storage. We definitely don’t want guests feeling like they unzip their suitcases…and then have nowhere to put anything. My plan is to use a dresser that can double as a TV stand, so there is plenty of places for guests to unpack things if they want to. The closet is generously sized, so I’ll likely use it for some of our own off-season things, but have a section dedicated so guest items can be hung up.

Any must-haves I haven’t thought of??

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Crew Does Two — The First Quarter

Crew 2.25 | lifeinyellow.com  Now that Crew is two, I’ve scaled back to quarterly, rather than monthly, updates on everything from growth to preferences to all the (mostly) fun little quirks of his personality. Much has happened in his first quarter-year as a two-year-old!

It’s April and you’ve been two for a quarter of a year already! Most traces of “baby” are long gone and you are a super talkative and energetic little boy.

You started the year off with more swimming lessons with Dad and began gymnastics with me…both much-needed activities to burn some energy on days you aren’t at school and while the weather was still cold and crummy out. You’ve gotten so comfortable floating on your back in the water, and can finally jump with both feet leaving the ground in sync, as opposed to the gallop you started with.

Crew 2.25 | lifeinyellow.com

A couple fun outings included some ventures to Tot Town, an under-five indoor play session through a local community center, and a trip to the Botanical Garden downtown. Your favorite part was the automatic doors as opposed to the actual gardens but it was a great spot to let you run around and explore in what felt like an outdoor space, but without the need for all the winter gear.

BGarden3

In February we headed south for some much-needed family R+R time. You loved some daily splashes in the pool, the sand, and just the ability to be outside! It was so nice for all of us to get out of the frigid Iowa temps and soak up a little Vitamin D. You had your best flights yet – your first with your own seat and we experienced firsthand the little wonder of the CARES harness. (I have to go on a side note for anyone traveling with a kiddo up to 40 pounds…using this allowed us the lightest travel we’ve had since Crew arrived – so liberating! And each flight, the attendants mentioned that it’s THE safest way for a small child to fly!)

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Your attention span has grown by leaps and bounds — you stay engaged in conversations about a single topic and string along multiple thoughts about the same thing, and can follow along much more with movies and storylines (as long as you have the freedom to roam around the room and play AS you watch). Your language has absolutely exploded since turning two. Words like “probably” and “maybe” have crept into sentences and you actually use them correctly. Some of my favorite things you say right now are “hmm, I dunno…“, “oh shoot!“, and “I hold Mommy” (even though it’s the other way around, I will never correct this one!) <3

You refer to yourself in the first person most of the time anymore, although you still refer to us in the third. “I go upstairs, get big dump truck, come back downstairs. Mommy comin?” Yes, somewhere along the way, “dada” and “mama” got replaced with “Daddy” and “Mommy“. I say it every day — slow down, time!

crew 2.25 | lifeinyellow.com

You have your frustrated moments, like any two-year-old, and wanting to do things yourself but still needing assistance is a hot button. It has certainly taught ME patience, and to plan on an extra few minutes to leave the house as you get your jacket on! (Sometimes I swoop in from behind you and help with a sleeve, then jump back and excitedly applaud that you did it yourself, so you won’t notice I helped – ha!!) The more you realize there are OPTIONS available in day-to-day life, you more you are annoyed when the options are not available choices for you. No, we can’t have fruit snacks for breakfast. No, we can’t stop and play at that park right now — we’re headed to school. For the most part, you recover quickly and can be led to think about something else. You’re working really hard on asking, not crying or whining, for something, and stopping to “listen” (you always point to your ears) to what we are asking you to do.

You are counting, counting, counting. You can count to ten without error, then it gets a little spottier “nine…ten…eleven…twelve…fifteen…NINE!” You sing your ABC song at about 90% accuracy, and you are obsessed with a couple of puzzle apps we put on the iPad. I swear I can SEE your brain working and you are so proud when you finish one — even if no one is nearby I hear you say, “Good JOB Crew!“. As much as you love the devices, you will drop them in a heartbeat if we ask you to come play something “real” with us. Mom and Dad still win — I wonder for how much longer?! 😉

You continue to be an awesome sleeper – bed around 8, up around 7 and still logging 2.5 to 3 hour naps after lunch. You’ve figured out fruit snacks are the bomb, you only want pouches if they have a banana prominently displayed on the packaging, and you love pretzels, chips, corn, mandarin oranges,  anything cinnamon/spice flavored (grahams, muffins, etc.) and m&ms (“nom-a-nom-a-noms“). Of course, the donut obsession continues — the only thing you love more than those is a garbage truck!

Crew 2.25 | lifeinyellow.com

You constantly have an “owie” (make believe most of the time or the TINIEST scratch becomes a major deal) and you need all.the.band-aids. to show anyone who will pay attention to you, while pouting and saying “oh no, I have owie…poor Crew“. You’re showing more interest in the potty and have had several “successes” so far. I’ll be honest, we’ve waited a bit to potty train just out of laziness/busyness on our part, and also because I was waiting to hear when you would move up to the next room at school (which also impacts your routine and your “normal”). Now that we know that won’t be happening until early summer, I think it will be full steam ahead with this bathroom business.

Crew 2.25 | lifeinyellow.com

You LOVE babies and several of your buddies have new siblings. You actually announced at school that “Crew having a baby” after one of your classmates welcomed a new brother — I definitely caught some raised eyebrows my direction! Sorry but it’s just the three of us, buddy!

Crew 2.25 | lifeinyellow.com

You understand the concept of presents much more now (every boring Amazon box or paper towel delivery via UPS is met with you exclaiming “Oh! Mayyyyybe presents?!“). You’re pretty happy to just open up anything, present or not, but it still cracks me up you don’t give up hope that everything will be for you. You get the idea of the Easter Bunny coming far more than you understood Santa just a few months ago. Every couple days you ask about your basket and if the eggs are still empty.

You did turn into an alter ego of yourself for about ten days mid-March. You were whiny and clingy and didn’t want to eat anything (even your favorites) and would cry about everything, even stuff that didn’t make any sense. We ended up in the ER (your first visit) one night when you had a sudden, severe attack of Croup, and went home after a nebulizer treatment and some steroids that helped you recover quickly. But even after that was addressed, the whininess continued, and we were back in the doctor’s office to be sure you didn’t have an ear infection or something else we hadn’t thought of. In the back of our minds the whole time, we thought this COULD be teeth, but kept checking and didn’t see anything. But sure enough, a couple days ago, 3 of 4 molars have popped through. Teeth never bothered you much to this point but wowza, this last round tested all of us!

Crew 2.25 | lifeinyellow.com

You’re still a bit of a mama’s boy and I love that for about 90 uninterrupted seconds every morning, I get all the hugs and smiles and snuggles — before you promptly ask to turn on garbage trucks (YouTube) and eat some breakfast. You think Dad can fix ANYTHING and if something’s broken, I’ve noticed you never bring it to me for help ha! With Dad working in the basement more lately, you are constantly asking me what he’s doing, telling me what he’s making, or asking to go “check on Daddy“. You love your little family and that makes my heart swell.

I can’t believe the next time I get one of these posts pulled together you will be halfway to three already. I couldn’t pick a favorite phase in your short little life so far, but this talking, loving, learning phase, with all its frustrations but ALL its discoveries and enthusiasm, is ranking pretty high on the charts. Love, love, love you, Crew Man!

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Seeing Green | Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

st pattys | hanna andersson jammies and serena & lily bedding

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! In between some basement walk-throughs with our painter and potential trim guys, we made some treats for our friends and I’ve been putting the bedding together in our master (Crew has been giving it a test-jump!). Hope your day and weekend is filled with happy!

st pattys | hanna andersson jammies and serena & lily bedding

IMG_0052st pattys | hanna andersson jammies

st pattys | hanna andersson jammies and serena & lily bedding

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