Category / House + Home

Age 3: Q3

Another quarter of age 3 has flown by. More independent than ever, so many little day to day details are changing and oh so grown up. You climb up on your stool and brush your own teeth (with a double check after), bring your dishes to the sink after dinner, rarely need a reminder to try and use the restroom, get your own clothes on (depending on the shirt – those are still tricky!) – and they’re usually on the right direction 😉 More than once, you’ve woken up and come downstairs without us hearing. You grab your milk cup out of the fridge and climb onto the couch with the iPad and let us continue sleeping ha!

Summer was oh so good to us. There was SO much swimming and trampoline jumping and running around with the neighbor kids. Again, new levels of independence as you’ve been allowed a yard or two over – I won’t lie, we’ve enjoyed it, too, able to have a glass of wine on the patio or grill dinner while having an uninterrupted conversation. 🙂

Your vocabulary and complex thoughts continue to amaze us. Just today at the park you told me you could do something that was a “big kid skill (skill?!) and I can do it because I’m a big kid because I’m almost four”.

We are equally as entertained by the mix-ups that still happen. As of late, you replace the word “respect” for when you mean “expect”. So instead of “that’s what I expected to happen” it comes out more like, “that’s what I’m respectin!” (You still rarely put a -g on the end of any word that ends in -ing. It’s all “pizza toppins” and “jumpin” and “roarin”.)

Speaking of roaring, the Jurassic Park love is real and you will sit through a good bit of any of the movies, captivated. You can name many of the kinds of dinosaurs and often impersonate them for us. The planets and stars are a new thing in your world and you ask almost nightly if you and Dad can go outside and look for them, after rockstar Dad showed you an app on his phone that lets you point it at the sky and learn what’s what. I do love that you’ll still enthusiastically take on some art projects with me – painting continues to be your favorite. You still want to clarify on Thursdays that it’s garbage day, but the need to run outside every Thursday is dwindling. How funny is it that I can’t quite type that fact without a little eye-watering. 🙂

You love to do your version of break-dancing, and your favorite jams vacillate between “Ice Ice Baby” and “I Wish (I Was A Little Bit Taller)”. You’re obsessed with the idea of Easter and desperately are trying to grasp the concept of weeks and months to get a grip on just when that bunny will show up again with eggs.

Breadsticks are probably your favorite food at the moment, and you can take down nearly a whole slice of Costco pizza in one sitting. Donuts still rank high for you, but you still won’t touch chocolate milk. You’ll eat a handful of various vegetables but if we make a salad, you’re disgusted that we’re “eatin’ leaves!”. A lot of play revolves around pretend food and food prep — you still love to play restaurant or food truck with your tent or kitchen and take orders and deliver them. Maybe a restaurant career in your future?

Letters and sounds and early reading is clicking for you at a rapid rate. They’re in no linear order, but you can write each letter of your name without having to look at an example. It’s hit or miss but you can often tell us which letter a word starts with, and vice versa if we name a letter, you can (usually) come up with a word that begins with it. You’re sounding things out and you like to follow printed words and make up what they say, but sound as if you’re really reading them carefully. Long story short – you’re pretty desperate to be a reader, and soon.

Like any kid, you have a couple “hard no” things that you’re afraid of (tunnel slides are still one!) but when it comes to people, you are so certain of yourself. You’re always the first to initiate a new friendship, walking up and starting the conversation, and I can actually SEE you match pace with another child as a way to get closer to them — if they’re into something specific, you match their interest in it, or ask questions, or laugh at something silly they’re doing as a way to engage. You are sometimes annoyed if I jump in to the conversation — like if you could, you’d say, “Mom get OUT of here, you’re ruining my cool factor”. 🙂

You’re high on life, that’s for certain. You love as fiercely as ever and tell us as much all the time without any kind of prompt. I hear you repeat things we say to you, but you MEAN them when you say them — “Oh Dad, I’m so proud of you for moving that big box all by yourself you must be so strong” or “Mom it makes me really happy that you brought me that snack, I’ll give you a hug because I know you love hugs”. <3

You can stall bedtime, be the most selective listener, and (annoyingly) pout and cringe at meals we put in front of you, but you make up for it all with a huge heart, great manners (most of the time), the silliest sense of humor, and an attitude that is all-in for any kind of adventure. We’re so crazy proud of the little person you’re becoming as you transition out of these toddler times and join the ranks of truly being a “kid”.

Love you fiercely.

Mom

Dragons Love Tacos Halloween Costume

I spent weeks taking this 3.5 year old to the store, browsing online, and generally asking him what he might want to be for Halloween. Anything I suggested was met with some variation of “meh” — until I proposed a character from one of his favorite books. If you have a kid in your life and haven’t read Dragons Love Tacos, do so immediately!

The ONLY opinion that was voiced was that he wanted to be a BLUE dragon with green wings. So off to Primary I went for their hoodie and joggers to get started.

If you are familiar with this book, you know the whole story unravels when the dragons get ahold of the spicy salsa. I grabbed an orange pumpkin bucket from the dollar store, spray painted it red, and we loosely followed the illustration as a guide, using scrapbook sticker letters for the label.

Dragons Love Tacos Halloween Costume | lifeinyellow.com

I bought a yard of the most dragon-ish green fabric I could find for the wings, tail, and horns. I am NOT a seamstress, but I managed to make a simple cone shaped tail, turned it right side out and stuffed it with stuffing. I added a single triangle “horn” to the end of the tail, and tacked the other two onto the hoodie. I bought a pair of children’s fairy wings at the dollar store to use as my base, covered them in the green fabric, changing the outline of the wings to be a bit more dragon and less butterfly. I sewed the top of the tail to the underside of the wings so he could put the whole thing on as if it were a backpack.

To drive home that this wasn’t just any dragon but a taco-loving dragon, I bought an “I Love Tacos’ button on Etsy and pinned it to his hoodie. We made a couple cardstock and tissue paper tacos and stuffed them in each pocket — after all, you have to have “pantloads” of tacos to host a proper taco party for dragons.

Oh no, dragon! You know what happens if you eat that spicy salsa!

Happy halloween — and happy costume creating — from our home to yours! <3

Fangirl Favorites: September

  1. I have to begin with this ridiculously well priced set of chairs. You can buy them individually or in sets of two and four — I needed two for the current project of turning my “office” (previously the nursery) into more of a creative art room space. We’ve been sitting on them for weeks now and still love them!
  2. I was gifted this planner and would have never otherwise looked twice at it. I’ve never been a planner girl, but this is slowly changing my life (yes, dramatic). I am the classic “too many ideas, not enough time” and this planner has totally helped me break down big goals into actionable (realistic) chunks and I’m seeing so much progress two months in on so many of my big goals. There’s a monthly, weekly and daily component but there’s so much room for interpretation and to use it as it best works for you.
  3. We ALL love this lavender wash, but it’s particularly great for winding Crew down at bedtime. It’s very reasonably priced for a giant bottle and we’re maybe a third of the way through ours, which I bought at the beginning of the summer.
  4. It’s soup season and Page is the biggest fan. He ordered this thermos as a way to pack his Trader Joes tomato and roasted red pepper soup (have you tried it? SOOO good!) for the office.
  5. I should preface that I am NOT a cookbook purchaser. I rely heavily on my Pinterest boards and a handful of friends and family recipes that I keep in a binder. But Healthyish captivated from cover to cover and every single recipe I’ve tried out of here is so ridiculously good and full of flavor, without being overly complex. And while I can feel good about it being pretty good for me, the recipes aren’t SO stringent that it feels like “diet food”.
  6. I always notice that my skin acts up during the change of the seasons. I’ve been giving myself a little extra TLC with this hot cloth cleansing balm. I’m a HUGE fan of the one made by Beautycounter, but the price tag is just too hefty to justify on an ongoing basis. I’ve found this one to be very similar and paired with a set of muslin washcloths I can give myself a little facial while in the shower. (These two products together also make a great gift!)
  7. My mom finds the greatest stuff and this one nailed his obsession with food prep pretend play. Kiddos can “serve” different flavors of juice (his favorite part is using the menu to take our orders) into glasses and add ice cubes with this drink dispenser toy. Sounds so simple, but it’s provided HOURS of entertainment. In fact it’s been such a hit, I think we might add this set to expand his menu. And as always, we love Melissa & Doug toys for their long lasting durability – they’re the toys that get saved and packed away for my grandkids someday. 🙂

Classroom Halloween Treats: Witch’s Brew Bath Bombs

We’ve been busy over here whipping up all the magic potions so that Crew’s classroom friends can create some of their own for Halloween!

You may have guessed it — we made our own bath bombs, complete with spooky surprises inside!

This project was much easier than I expected (I was fully counting on some crumbling bombs and preschooler – and Mom – meltdowns) but I’m happy to report it was really pretty simple and straightforward!

It DOES help to have all your stuff ready, premeasured/open, so you can work quickly. (Once everything is mixed, you want to make your bombs before the mix gets too dry.) I did two batches; the first I followed the recipe below exactly (this made about five medium-sized bombs), and when those turned out well, I quadrupled it to make enough for Crew’s class of 24 and a couple extra friends.

My best tip is to spend a minute on YouTube watching an actual video of how to make these, because I picked up a lot of hints and it helped me understand better than all the written directions out there. In all I’d say we spent about $20 on everything (although I did already have the essential oils on hand). And if you keep scrolling I’m sharing a printable of the label we stapled across the top, so you can gift these as well!

After reading a few reviews of silicone versus plastic versus aluminum, I settled on this set of molds. I don’t foresee using the small one much, but the medium was perfect for stretching the batch enough to make decent-sized bombs for 24+ kiddos (and I’ll be making my own and gifting some at the holidays with the larger mold, which feels even more grand/luxurious). They worked like a charm with no sticking.

For our bath bombs, we knew we wanted them to be green (but not so pigmented they stain anyone’s tub ha!) so we used green food coloring accordingly.

THE RECIPE:

1 cup baking soda

1/2 cup citric acid (cheaper online than in stores)

1/2 cup corn starch

1/2 cup epsom salt

3 Tbsp almond oil or grapeseed oil

1 Tbsp water (add your drops of food coloring to this for even mixing)

Essential Oil as desired (for our quadruple batch I did about four drops each of lemon, tangerine, sweet orange, and bergamot)…Crew could not get enough of smelling them ha!

Our final “ingredient” was a bat-shaped ring (I bought a bag of 30+ at WalMart for a dollar) and they fit perfectly inside the medium sized mold. I thought these would be a fun surprise when the bomb fizzles apart in the tub.

TO MAKE YOUR BATH BOMBS:

After gathering your ingredients, whisk together all the DRY ingredients first. Combine the wet ingredients separately and pour them SLOWLY into the bowl, constantly whisking. The consistency should feel ALMOST as damp as wet sand – a tad more powdery, but still “wet”.

Scoop the mixture into both halves of your mold. Don’t PACK it in, but gently press enough to firm it up, and make sure both halves are overflowing. (At this point, I pressed the bat ring into one side.) Stick your two halves together and press them together, wiping off any excess that comes out the seam. Use your knuckles to tap firmly on either side of the mold so the packed mixture will slide out easily. I used a slight “twist” motion (like unscrewing a cap) to remove one side at a time, and laid them out on a sheet of wax paper to harden up. A lot of recipes called for 24 hours to dry but I think it only helps to give them a solid 48 hours before handling them in any way.

I was nervous about how durable these would be when loaded up dozens deep and handed out at school. My coworker had the genius idea to add some cobweb stuffing to the little ziploc treat bags (found at The Dollar Tree). I added a bomb and some stuffing to each bag, and printed and cut apart the following printable. (They should be about the size of a business card, before folded in half lengthwise). Stick them over the tops of the bags and staple in place. Voila! Witch’s brew for all!

Grab your free printable treat topper by clicking the attachment link below:

Witch’s Brew Printable

Happy Halloween!!

The Guest Bedroom

This room has been painted, with a door, and a bed for quite some time. But when we learned we’d be hosting company last week, we kicked it into high gear to finish out some of the details.

While Page worked in the bathroom next door, I did my best to pull together some little details to make this room comfortable for our guests (and yes…maybe benefit us long after they leave when one of us is sick or snoring – the other often ends up down here!) 😉

I scored a dresser at our local HomeGoods for a song, and we added a spare TV from storage, connected our Hulu to it, and framed all the passwords for our guests. 🙂

I’d like to find a prettier standing mirror eventually, but for the time being we hung a smaller one behind the door for getting dressed.

There’s nothing worse than being too hot or cold — this room runs particularly cold in the basement, but I made sure a spare blanket was easy to find if needed.

I’m so pleased with how light and airy this space feels for being a basement room with only an egress window to provide light.

When Crew was over his sound machine from babyhood, it made sense to keep it down here for those who like white noise. (Dohm makes the BEST sound machines, if you’re in the market!) I also added a wall USB/iphone charger because I am the POSTER girl for traveling and forgetting a charger cable.

One of my favorite details in the room is the “Hotel” print — and the colors work so perfectly on the wall color.

Much of what we used in this room was repurposed from elsewhere in the house and no longer available to link online (sheets are Garnet Hill, and the duvet, bedside table, and lamp are all IKEA, if you can luck out in store), but sharing what I can!

house tissue box pennant fixture  |  Dohm sound machine  |  paint color is Sherwin Williams “Faint Coral”

Finished! The Guest Bathroom

The guest bathroom in our basement level is completed! Do you hear the angels singing?!

Some out of town friends coming to visit was just the push we needed to pony up the last dollars and burst of energy needed to bring this three-quarter bath to completion.

We are thrilled with the result and I’m swooning in bathroom heaven. Per usual, Page whipped out his mad DIY skills to build the vanity to scale. He did all of his own plumbing work (seriously…I did not even know this about him when I married him…score!) hooking up our shower and sink and toilet and installing all the plumbing fixtures.

I don’t like when things get too “matchy” so combining fixtures in both shiny chrome (already in our door handles) and matte black (to echo the dark floor tile and shower grout) struck the right note for me.

My very favorite part is thinking through all the little details — spare (stylish) toothbrushes, the cutest little overpriced travel toothpaste I’d never splurge on for myself, soaps, lotions, and everything else someone away from home might need.

The beauty of a bathroom that isn’t heavily used on a regular basis is that you don’t end up with all the “stuff” of a daily use bathroom. All we needed in here were a couple of towels and a bath mat stashed under the sink with a basket for extra toilet paper, and a quick spray paint “first aid” box project to hold some basics for our guests.

Thanks for peeking in! And if you need me I’ll just be over here tile-gazing and soaking in the success of (finally) checking this project off the list!

Products used:  shower curtain  |  curtain rod  |  curtain hooks

faucet  |   sink  |   sconces  |   shower head set

hair dryer bag  |   towel hook  |   toothbrushes  |   TP holder

 

The Best Lunch-Packing Products

As a follow-up to my favorite toddler/preschooler-sized backpacks, I’m turning my attention to all things lunch-related as we enter the first week of the school year. We don’t often have to provide a lunch yet, but as we approach kindergarten (say whaaa?!) I’m paying attention to my oh-so-smart mama friends who have all the best recommendations. I do pack my own lunch for work frequently, and have used a similar style lunch box and the silicone cups to keep things separate. And some of these things make lunches at home with littles that much more fun to prepare.

  1. We love this set of cutters — that includes sandwich cutters (who wants crust, anyway?!) little ones that are fun for fruit and cheese slices.
  2. Genius move by parents everywhere to use these little silicone cups to keep foods separate within lunches. (I personally like them to hold almonds and other stuff I want to stay “crunchy” on top of my salads until I’m ready to eat.)
  3. I love the idea of Bento boxes for kids because they hate when stuff “touches” — I like the price point of this box, and as my neighbor so smartly pointed out — you can afford to purchase a week’s worth, pack and stack them all in one night in the fridge, and have ZERO to do all week long.
  4. We’ve been using this stainless water bottle since shortly after Crew was off bottles. They are indestructible and great at keeping cold drinks cold (perfect for all-day summer outings). I’m picky about water bottles because they MUST be easy to clean — this one is my winner.
  5. I love the idea of these pre-printed lunchbox notes! They don’t make much sense until your kiddos are at a reading age, but I love the idea that they don’t require as much time to prepare, but still offer a touchpoint of “I’m thinking about you!” during their school day.

And if you’re looking for some lunch-packing inspiration, here are a couple of my favorite sources:

  • Lunchbox brand, Lunchbots, has a great Instagram feed full of ideas
  • My friend, Lisa, shares her healthy and creative ideas over at Love You Lunches

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 it’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. 😉

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! 😉

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. 🙂

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