Category / Kiddos

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 on 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 this 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 water (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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5 Boy Outfits for Spring

I’m on a mission to share some quarterly boy outfit inspo, starting with SPRING!

5 boy outfits for spring | www.lifeinyellow.com

Shirt by CrewCuts // Boots by Hunter // Shorts by Target // Knee Socks by Etsy

5 boy outfits for spring | www.lifeinyellow.com

Sweatshirt and Trunks by Janie & Jack // Sunnies by Gap // Shoes by Old Navy

5 boy outfits for spring | www.lifeinyellow.com

Cardigan by The Little Spoons // Tee by CrewCuts // Shorts by Target // Shoes by Gap

5 boy outfits for spring | www.lifeinyellow.com

Shirt by Children’s Place // Shorts by Rockets of Awesome // Shoes by Nike

5 boy outfits for spring | www.lifeinyellow.com

Jammies & Kiddo Blanket by June & January

Can’t wait to do this again soon for summer 🙂

Favorite Places to Shop and Top 3 Tips for Dressing Boys

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

shirt Gap // shorts Gymboree // sandals Target

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Easter for the Boys

1. Dinosaur egg bath bombs

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

2. Rifle Paper Co. Tie + Pocket square

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

3. Too Many Carrots

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

4. Bunnies on Bicycles jammies

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

5. Chalk Bombs

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

6. Bunny slingshot

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

7. Pink knee highs

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

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

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

You can actually see those little wheels turning and growing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read my list of toddler book recommendations here.

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Crew’s Valentines: Heart Crayons and 3-D Suckers

I have to say, I’ve loved every stage, but three is proving to be particularly fun with all of its enthusiasm. When I started to explain Valentine’s Day to Crew, and that we were going to make valentines to give his friends, he was ON. BOARD. to say the least.

I started with something he could truly make — you’ve seen these all over Pinterest — heart-shaped crayons. I will say, grouping these into like colors is key…they look like a hot mess if you just mix random hues. Also — tip: Soak the crayons in warm water to make the paper wrappers easier to remove. Once bare, break them into pieces and bake for 15 minutes at 250, popping them out once they’ve cooled. We used this silicone mold and it was the perfect size and super easy to remove the hearts.

I thought about making the crayons part of his cards, but instead we focused on the holy grail — suckers. Another idea I can’t take credit for, as it already exists around cyberspace: 3D sucker cards. I put Crew in his VDay shirt and among MANY outtakes, (so much “cheeeeese” and eyes closed lately — coupled with holding his arm the right way!) we finally got a shot we could use.

If you attempt this, definitely ask your kiddo to hold his/her arm out in FRONT of them (so the hand is as large as possible to give you space to poke the sucker through) and also out to the SIDE (so the sucker doesn’t end up in front of their face). Don’t shoot too close, allowing plenty of room on the sides to hold both the weight of the sucker and any message you want to add. I laid my text out in photoshop, sampling the red font color from his shirt. I can’t say enough good things about printing with Mpix — I send all my photo clients there! — and when wallets didn’t seem quite big enough to support the suckers, but 4×6 seemed like overkill, I went with 3.5 x 5 prints.

You might say we’re suckers for a good holiday project. 😉

 

Basement Progress: Under Stairs Playspace and Ikea Algot Toy Closet

We haven’t done much in the basement in recent months (other projects taking priority!), but I’m still behind on updating what we’ve accomplished so far. This time last year we gathering estimates for tape and texture on our drywall, so we’ve come a long way! Today I’m sharing the area just to the right when you come down the stairs — the under stairs playspace and toy closet!

You can see we still need to mount the little house number “5” (Crew’s lucky number!) and trim out the faux wood so that it seamlessly connects with the wall and gives the illusion of a roofline. Crew’s favorite part of this spot is by far the ability to reach the light switch inside and turn on his “porch light”.

(By far, the tiniest room I’ve every attempted to photograph!) This space will change many times I’m sure, but for now it’s a little reading nook with his Pottery Barn chair and a couple shelves to hold favorite books. We kept it clean and simple in here with white walls, and I applied navy decal stars to give the feel of wallpaper on the far wall.

(The view looking up from that little red chair — we continued the star theme with some string lights he can plug in for a little extra magic in this space. The “Be You” sign was originally gold and I spray painted it navy to make it feel a bit more masculine.)

And the view looking back toward his little door. We did a flush mount light to minimize head bonking, and I love that the “Be You” sign is hidden until you’re all the way in here. Some stained wood arrows pointing into the space, and matching book shelving complete this little spot I’m totally giddy about.

I Want My Hat Back / Ferdinand / Love Matters Most / Not A Box / Be Kind banner

Back across from the playspace entrance is the double doored toy closet. (And for those who’ve asked, the framed print is from Smallwoods — the lyrics to “Forever Young” seemed so appropriate here!)

This closet has always been at the top of the list for the basement plan, as we saw one similar in a builder’s house we toured before building our own home.

It doubles as current toy storage on the bottom half, within easy reach for Crew…

…and outgrown toy/baby gear storage up high. It’s so nice to still be able to find our bins of infant/toddler toys when babies come to visit us, and until we know if there’s another kiddo in our future or not, this stuff is tucked neatly away.

We also have a couple of bins for things he either hasn’t quite grown INTO along with a couple Christmas and birthday gifts we were able to hide away in all the celebrations, for a rainy day when all the newness has worn off and he’s ready to play with something different.

I’ve used some Elfa products from The Container Store, but decided for this closet to try Ikea’s Algot system. Overall, we’ve been really happy with it. There are plenty of options and ways to configure what you’re after, although Page might write a bit different review about actually mounting the support pieces on which we built this all. I HAVE found that with the lidded tubs (up high) you have to line them up JUST right to get them on and off the rails — which would be frustrating for a small child trying to access bins of sorted toys, so I’m glad we kept it easy with freestanding tubs on the floor and open mesh basket drawers (that don’t come all the way off, but rather function like a normal drawer).

It is SO nice to have a spot for everything, and be able to shut the doors on it all!

striped bins / red tubs / red grommet bins

Cheers to a new year, organization, and a new indoor spot to play on days like today when it’s 2 degrees out!

*This post contains affiliate links.