Crew: 19 months

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Nineteen months. So much happens in thirty days and while you’re always the same crazy soul, you grow and change so much that in some ways you’re a totally different kid from one month to the next.

Suddenly it’s all about basketball (between a Sesame Street episode where Elmo plays it, and watching the neighbor kids play, you’re a bit obsessed, so much so that we bought you a hoop!).

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You continue to LOVE. TO. READ. You’ll look at books on your own but much prefer to sit in our laps and be read to. You frequently get to the end and ask to read it “again” — often more than once.  IMG_3050

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You want ALL. THE. PEANUT BUTTER. On crackers, on waffles, in granola bars. You’ll take it all — sometimes just straight up with a spoon. You’d eat hot dogs for every meal if we let you, and you continue to love the pouches of fruit/veggie blends. Still won’t touch noodles (except a couple magical times at school) but you will down quinoa.

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You’ve developed a love for Elmo. You still tune into a couple of the more sophisticated Baby Einstein videos, but for the most part it’s all about Sesame Street now — but only the Elmo-heavy episodes. We keep the same faves on DVR on repeat. You love the music, the kids, the puppets, and when a funny antic happens, you laugh and point and look at us until we acknowledge with you just how hil.ar.i.ous. that Sesame gang is.

You’re putting together lots of two-word phrases. “Oh man”, “big truck”, (big anything really), and “bye (whomever)” are the most frequently used.

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I’ve noticed more frustration and less patience this month when it comes to toys and other objects — you want things to fit a certain way, bear more weight than they should, function more quickly, etc. You’re getting much better about saying “help” rather than getting so frustrated!

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It’s scary how proficient you’re becoming on phones and the ipad (both of which you can ask for by name) — you know how to tap the app you want and navigate through it. You love to FaceTime and watch videos of yourself and your buddy, Tatum. In general, you’re becoming more interested in friends and playing somewhat together as opposed to side by side.

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Hitting seems to have subsided as quickly as it started (thank goodness). You are a big hugger – sometimes more than your buddies would like to partake in ha!

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We continue to be so happy with the switch to your new school and you clearly love your time there. It’s great to receive photos of what you’re up to all day! I notice little things at home that are definitely rooted in school routines — for one, you actively start cleaning up if you notice me picking up (without me even asking), and you are much more interested in all of us sitting down together to eat — so in recent weeks we’ve been giving a booster seat at the table a go (“big sit!” as you call it).

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You are very good at playing on your own for several minutes at a time, although just in the past few days, you’ve started to hold out your hand, or to come grab ours, to pull us to where you want us to play with you. Similarly, you no longer want to go up or down stairs on all fours, you want to walk, which means if we’re nearby, you’ll reach up for our hand to hold. I have noticed if I’m NOT right there, you are getting pretty smooth at holding onto the rails and stepping down yourself!

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You clocked in at 23 pounds exactly and just shy of 32″ tall at your 18-month checkup. You gained only a couple ounces in weight, but nearly two inches in height since your last visit three months ago! You’re wearing 18 mo/18-24 in most tops and 12-18/18 mo in most bottoms. You went from wearing size 4 shoes in May to a quick pair of 5s in June, and are now into 6s already. It’s the little things that make me realize you’re getting bigger, but after checkups only two and three months apart since birth, we now don’t go back until you turn TWO!

You’re really interested in babies. You want to hug them and point out where their eyes/mouth/nose are…none of which you do gently, so we have to run interference when we’re around any. It’s a different story when Mom gets to hold any of them…you quickly swoop in for a spot in my lap the second they’ve been handed back. You love to watch repeatedly an episode of Sesame Street that is all about babies and study how the older kids interact with them. If we ask you “how do you play with a baby, Crew?” you do the gestures and say “peek-a-boo!”. No, that’s not an allusion to a future sibling!

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We surprised Dad with your newest trick — to “show us your muscles”. You do a half-“Grr” and hold up your little arms. I die. You’re starting to want to help in the kitchen more — sometimes I let you help stir something for real, or dump in an ingredient, but mostly for my own sanity, I just set you up with your own bowls and pans and utensils and let you pretend. You LOVE the toaster and mimicking the “pop” of whatever is inside. We got you a toy version that has been a big hit. You’re starting to get the idea of pretend — we play that we are eating pretend fruits and veggies, and you pretend to drive a car around the house.

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Your dad went on a guys trip this month for several days and you missed him– you wouldn’t really mention him and you were in good spirits the nine days he was gone….but then it would come out of nowhere. Twice when you got upset about something unrelated, you started crying hard for him and again once after we hung up the phone talking to him asking for “more dada” :( Break my heart! For a couple nights after he got back, you’d wake in the night and we could hear you asking on the monitor for him by name. We’re both glad he’s home!

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You are suddenly super interested in the potty from a functional standpoint. Let’s just say I’ve had a very attentive audience when I need to use it, and you occasionally want to sit on it. Nothing happens and I’m certainly not pushing potty training yet, but I also want to encourage any interest, so we’ve added a seat in your bathroom to try here and there. It feels so big kid!

We love you so much — but you know that already 😉
Lots of fish-face smooches,
Mom

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toddler bookworm: a 12-24 months reading list

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Crew is ALL about the books, and has been for some time. Fortunately for us, he’s moving from some of the touch and feel books with no words, to some with a BIT more plot. Of course we have the classics in rotation — Goodnight Moon, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and others — but I’ve discovered so many new favorites in recent months and always love to share hit titles with other parents and caregivers. It’s fun to think ahead to reading some of the more elaborate, classic stories I remember reading as a child, but for now I’m enjoying a toddler in my lap, asking to read these simple but sweet titles over and over…(and over).

Toddlers Reading List | www.lifeinyellow.com

Noisy Trucks A title we discovered at our library, I admittedly am a fan of this one because, while there is some verbiage to read on each page, it can also be self-guided. Crew seems to like real-life photos of things he recognizes, as opposed to illustrations, so this book delivers. Each page includes textures like the bumpy tire or the rough ridgy grill. And of course, there is a button on each page with realistic sound bytes of the various vehicles’ noises, along with a re-cap at the end.

Alphabet Crew received this for his first birthday and it takes interactive to a new level! There are things to scratch, sniff, push, pull, and all while learning the ABCs (and tons of animals that Page and I had never heard of — so I guess we’re learning, too?!)

Goodnight Gorilla I have fond memories of reading this to the kids I used to nanny, so it was an immediate add to our baby registry. This story combines simple text with illustration-only pages that allow you to ad-lib what is happening as the pages turn. We read this any time of day, but it’s a particular hit at bedtime.

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Little Blue Truck We were gifted this book at a shower, and thank goodness! I’ve since learned this title is basically an institution with little boys (and girls!). I like the underlying message of helping out friends, and there is lots of repetition around animal noises. We have since accumulated Little Blue Truck Leads the Way and Little Blue Truck’s Christmas (the lights at the end are a big hit!), with plans to pick up the newest release, Little Blue Truck’s Halloween. (PS, if you have a die-hard Blue Truck fan on your hands, you have to check out these pajamas – they are on Crew’s Christmas list!)

All Aboard New York We’ve had a couple of these books, but the New York is both my favorite and Crew’s. The colorful, bright illustrations are delightful and even at only a few months old, Crew would study them in detail. As the adult it’s fun to see the whimsical portrayals of famous landmarks in a favorite city.

Dear Zoo This sweet lift-a-flap book is small and easy to travel with, and great for learning animal sounds.

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Maggie’s Ball I had never heard of this book until the librarian read it at Book Babies one morning. Obsessed with both balls and dogs at the time, Crew was instantly entranced. I bought a copy for our house, and got out a sleeve of tennis balls to play with while reading (Maggie’s ball is a tennis ball). This book continues to be a favorite nearly a year later.

Red Truck A perfect length book for this age group’s attention span. Red Truck comes to the (very dramatic!) rescue of a stuck school bus. Loved this for learning the color red (and yellow for the bus!). We point out red trucks all around town as a result of this title.

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Machines At Work This book was one of my brother’s favorites as a little boy, and my mom lent his copy to Crew. I love the simple three or four-word phrases on each spread, accompanied by colorful, bold illustrations. Great for learning action verbs like “dig”, “build”, and “knock down”!

Down By the Station We are on our second copy of this book, after the first one was gifted to us at a baby shower, and well-loved by a certain someone who’s still learning to not rip paper pages (I do wish this came in a board book!). Crew loves the different scenes (airport, train station, etc) and pointing out each page’s vehicles “all in a row”. (Bonus points if you SING the story!)

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The Watermelon Seed At a time when it is ALL about the truck books (I think we have nearly a dozen in rotation!) I was anxious for a book about ANYTHING else. It seemed appropriate for summer to add this read to our collection and it has not disappointed. Super bright colors, a dramatic crocodile, and a good dose of burping make this a much-requested read in our house.

Hi! A great title for short attention spans, this book is a fast page-turner, with simple one-word, rhyming, animal sounds on each page. The animals all look to the little boy at the end to hear what HE says, and it was these final two pages I credit heavily with teaching Crew “hi” and “bye”. He enjoyed this book early on before he could repeat back animal sounds, but now that he can, he seems to love it all over again.

What’s on your little one’s reading list???

Toddlers Reading List

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Crew: 18 Months

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Holy cow, you’re one-and-a-half! I don’t know if it’s the half-year milestone, but this month has been an explosion of vocabulary and you’ve completely morphed into this car-noise-making, rough-housing, class-clowning little BOY! You keep us on our toes as always, and you never fail to keep us laughing at your antics and amazed at your growth.

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You began your new daycare/school three weeks ago (still alternating two and three days a week) and I can’t believe how well you handled the transition. To me, it speaks loudly to the amount of consistency this new environment provides and how nurtured you feel. There were no tears the first day, but a few the second and third as you figured it out. From there on, it’s been smooth sailing — you’re napping well, eating well, and making lots of projects and friends.

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You’ve been down to one mid-day nap for a few weeks now, usually lasting around two to three hours over lunchtime. I’d guess you’re pretty typical for a toddler eater — you will try just about anything once, but rarely let it sit in your mouth for more than a split second to find out if you really like it. I’ll serve you things I know you like but haven’t had in a while, and have to basically force feed it to you through your meltdown until you realize, “oh yeah, I DO like that…put more here on this tray.” What a drama queen!

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You did a week of swim lessons this month, four days in a row. Your dad took you the first day and then I got to take a turn at lessons with you the following three. It was so fun to see you improve when you had back-to-back exposure for several sessions in a row. You had mastered jumping on your own to us from the side, and flipping from your back to your belly, by the last day.

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The most noticeable change this month by far is your language. Your vocabulary is exploding and the first piece of feedback we got on day one at your new school was that they couldn’t believe how many words you already knew. For better or worse – you’re a chatty Kathy like your parents. 😉 It’s to the point where I have to think hard to list them all, but in recent weeks you’ve expanded your vocab of maybe a couple dozen words from before and have now mastered mine, truck, car, tractor, bus, boat, golf ball, mow, Elmo, apple (for apple OR applesauce), door, pop, stop, pretzel, Cheerios, juice, waffle, peanut butter, again, baby, walk, stroller, along with lots of animal names and learning to repeat family and friends’ names. (Our favorite is when you say “Owen” – it sounds like “Amen!”). I know I’m forgetting several, but you get the idea!

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You’re mastering the fist bump, you LOVE to dance to music and sing Twinkle Twinkle (“up above the world” is the line you always start with!) and you crave being pop quizzed to tell us what the elephant, monkey, dog, fish, and pig say (and hop like the bunny). You’re obsessed with all trucks and the four or five truck books we’ve amassed are in heavy rotation lately. And while you got nervous up close, your month was MADE when our garbage truck driver let you get up close and sit in the cab.

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You are getting pretty good at navigating our phones and the ipad, love to watch videos of yourself, and you’re learning that hitting is not acceptable and that you have to “STOP” before going into the street. You do little things all the time that make me do a double-take at just how fast you’re growing. Whether it’s getting yourself onto and off of the furniture that I not so long ago watched you like a hawk on, or answering the door when the doorbell rings (yes, you can open it yourself if it’s unlocked!), I can literally see you growing before my eyes. It makes me sad and nostalgic and so grateful and proud all at once.

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I know all moms think this, but you really are a smart little cookie, too smart for your own good at times, but in light of the world’s recent events, I find myself holding you a little longer each night and reaching for extra hugs and kisses each day. We are so crazy blessed by your presence this last year and a half. Looking forward to all the adventures yet to come that we know you will lead us on…

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Happy one and a half, curly Q!
Mama

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moved in: the patio

our patio | lifeinyellow.com

I promised myself I would “finish up” a couple spaces in our house, photograph them, and get them posted to the blog in the coming weeks. But first, it seemed fitting to do an update on the exterior, since it was still being finished last outdoor post a year ago.

our patio | www.lifeinyellow.com

our patio | www.lifeinyellow.com

We spend a lot of time outdoors right now, so specifically, we’ve been working on pulling the back patio together a bit more, starting with a stone wall that Page arranged on the south side.

our patio | www.lifeinyellow.com

our patio | www.lifeinyellow.com

Originally the plan was to just contain our grill in place from the winds that whip through our and our neighbor’s house, but we’ve discovered there’s an added benefit of keeping Crew’s attention away from the sloping lawn on the other side (that also houses our window wells we have yet to cover.)

our patio | www.lifeinyellow.com

It’s been nice to pull out our outdoor furniture, cushions, and — though it pains me that they aren’t as chic to look at — Crew’s outdoor toys, and have a “bonus” living room for the warmer months. We can sit and have a drink on our chairs, and Crew will entertain himself at the water table for a blissful half hour or more!

our patio | www.lifeinyellow.com

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I do have three planters that do not yet have residents…it’s on my to-do list. And next year, we would like to add a fire pit and four adirondacks around it on the uncovered portion. But for now, our pennies are being saved for some upcoming basement progress…more on that soon, I’m sure!

our patio | www.lifeinyellow.com

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Since we last posted about the exterior, a tree had to be replaced, as did a couple smaller shrubs, and our final cedar accent pieces were stained.

completed exterior | www.lifeinyellow.com

completed exterior | www.lifeinyellow.com

We put in our own sweat equity by creating stone borders around each of our five trees, pulling the cedar color into the mulch, and edging in the rock in the back yard (spoiler alert — if you look closely, you can see this is still being completed!) 😉

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With every completed project, it starts to feel a little less like our house, and more like our home. Anxious to share more (inside!) spaces soon…

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Crew: 17 months

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Another big month for you…you’re a walking, talking machine!

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Yes, you are finally an undisputed walker. In the first couple weeks of your sixteenth month, you went from tentatively taking a pass across the room here and there (and defaulting back to crawling once you tumbled), to over a single weekend, suddenly deciding that walking would be your new go-to. You’ve been so hesitant to even try it, that your learning curve happened quickly and steeply. You were visibly steadier each day, and quickly mastered getting back up to a stand with nothing to pull up on (something you rarely did before this month either — stand without something to hold onto). Now that you’ve got it mastered, you’re a walking fool. With or without shoes, indoors or out, the terrain doesn’t matter.

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Your version of words is becoming more pronounced and easier to understand. You want everything “open”. Somehow milk has become “mah mo” (we’re still scratching our heads), but otherwise your vocab is expanding quickly and more clearly. It’s amazing how even having a common language of a dozen words or so can eliminate so much frustration on your part. You understand far more than you can say — one of my favorites is that I can now ask you go put something in the trash, and you toddle right over to the trash cabinet and chuck the item in. It’s the little bits of help that make such a huge difference! You are constantly trying to repeat words that we emphasize, even if you don’t immediately retain or remember them. One of your new gestures and phrases is “I uh-no!” (I dunno!):

“I dunno?” #crewyeartwo

A video posted by Liz Smith (@lizblogphotog) on

And when words just don’t matter, you babble constantly — the whole car ride home yesterday you talked to yourself. I wish I knew what you were saying! :)

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You went on your third round-trip flight (your first since month 9), and it was certainly more eventful that flights past. All in all, you did really well (thanks to a small town’s supply of snacks and cheapo new toys), but both directions happened to fall during a time you REALLY wanted to sleep, and it was hard for you to get comfortable, leading to some screeching for the delight of the other passengers. You also couldn’t understand why you weren’t allowed out of your seat to show off your new walking skills or talk nonstop to the (stranger) new friends you thought you were making in-flight. Fortunately, neither bout lasted long and you drifted off eventually. But for the time being, your dad and I have agreed no flying for you in the immediate future.

Travel with a toddler. 😳😁✈️👶🏼💤👏🏻 #graciouspassengers #allthesnacks #tgfnaps #crewyeartwo   A photo posted by Liz Smith (@lizblogphotog) on

You’ve hit a bit of a sleep regression this month, perhaps in part due to a cold you can’t fully kick. I’m not sure if it’s that combined with bad dreams or the new walking skill, but you were suddenly up — REALLY up — around midnight or one for nights on end. And it hasn’t been the simple “give him a pacifier” remedy per usual to get you back down…you are inconsolable unless we literally rock you back to sleep, which we’ve otherwise never had to do. Hoping this phase is soon a thing of the past!

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We’ve seen more clinginess this month — another thing we haven’t experienced much of, ever, so we’re still figuring out how to deal with it. It certainly won’t help that you’ll be starting a new daycare in a couple weeks…but we are ultimately very happy to know you’ll be in a smaller, more consistent environment with the same faces each day you’re there, rather than bouncing around rooms/teachers/peers. Because you’re only part-time in school, (I’m trying to re-train my brain to call it school!), it’s already hard enough to make it seem comfortable for you when you go, so I’m hopeful having more consistency when you get there will make this transition, and the days going forward, easier. You LOVE the people who take care of you once you know them…we just have to get to that point again!

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You continue to be SUCH a lover…big hugs and kisses, not so much when we randomly ask for them now, but when it’s your idea, and especially first thing in the mornings when you wake up. You are of course curious and like to tell us “no” or do things you KNOW you’re not supposed to (dripping your milk is the current fave naughty activity) but we are fully aware of just how good we have it with you.

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The obsessions with cars, trucks (anything with a motor), and balls continue…and you’ve added dogs (“bow wows”) to the list. You are particularly fond of our neighbor’s dog, Bo. You giggle like a maniac when you can get close and want to pet, be licked, and grab tails. Needless to say, we are working hard on being “gentle!”.

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Happy seventeen months to the happiest little soul who is quickly growing into a boy. Please stay my baby a bit longer.

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Love,
Mom

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Loft Playspace and Our Ikea Latt Hack

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When I last posted about this loft landing between our three upstairs bedrooms and bath, it looked like this (see above). I was just starting to store some toys up here for a baby who was quickly becoming more active and interested in them, yet was immobile enough that I could do a little work here and there at my desk as he played.

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It’s several months later, and safe to say Crew has fully moved in. My desk (and all its cords, electronics, etc.) has been relocated to the guest room, a space I’m hoping to share very soon. This has left this loft area completely to Crew.

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To recap, this space is at the top of our staircase coming up from the main floor. It’s hard to get a level shot the way our stairs sit, but here is a collage of “home” elements that hangs on the wall as you come up. This wall makes me so happy – so many of these pieces have special meaning to us and the homes we’ve created since we were first married. The drawing is of our first home we built/bought, the print of the dog was my first anniversary present, and the floral shadowbox holds a copy of a key to every apartment and home we’ve lived in…And yes, to set the tone as we move upstairs, that’s one of our baby gates (seriously, the best!) that you see to the very left of this shot.

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To balance things out after the desk left, I moved the bookcase of toys to the room opposite the photo wall. An IKEA curtain rod and clips showcases some of my favorite art projects that come home from daycare (and some he makes here at home). Once they’ve had their time to shine, I’m keeping my favorites to later scan into keepsake books.

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As for projects yet to be created, these cubbies (which will eventually house media components when this space evolves to an older kid/TV hangout spot) for now hold all the art supplies that a certain someone can’t be trusted to keep out of.

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I love that this space also has a small nook of shelves way back in the corner, above the (baby-locked!) door to our clothes chute. It’s here that I stash Crew’s baby books so as I work on them, and the odds and ends that go into them — photos, documents, etc.

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The latest edition to this space has been an IKEA Latt table. It’s a total steal, and Pinterest is full of inspiration if you want to hack one of your own. I opted for some gray stain that we had on hand, as well as leftover chalkboard paint our builder left us after painting our chalkboard wall in the mudroom downstairs (another spot I need to get around to blogging!). The only new paint I added to the mix was a hit of “Peppery” by Sherwin Williams — I love the burnt coral color against the stained finish, as opposed to something more primary.

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Thanks for stopping by our loft playspace. :) I’m committed to (finally!) sharing more of our home, yes, a year later, very soon!

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