Category / Kiddos

Our Favorite Christmas Books

I have the fondest memories of pulling out favorite Christmas books each year as a kid and it’s been so fun to continue that tradition with Crew. Our stash has grown quite a bit this year, as we’ve moved firmly out of the baby/board book phase, and into the “real” storybooks. It’s fun to pull out old favorites, and discover new works and authors.

WHEN SANTA WAS A BABY. For a little boy who LOVES to talk about how he used to be a baby, and thinks Santa is his bestie, this book hits all the right notes. Love the illustrations in this and the story is so charming.

THE POLAR EXPRESS. Of course. Whether or not you have a train fanatic, this is a classic. And hit home especially hard this year when we were able to ride a “Polar Express” train in a nearby town and Santa handed out bells. The movie has been captivating as well!

OLIVE THE OTHER REINDEER. Crew is drawn to stories with animal main characters, so I knew this one would be a favorite. Love the clever take on the classic song lyric.

WHY CHRISTMAS TREES AREN’T PERFECT. This is one I remember loving as a kid and while it’s still a bit wordy for an almost three-year-old, we paraphrase it to get the message across.

HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS. Another classic and we are big fans of Dr. Seuss in general. Crew is starting to find the silly words and quirky characters funnier as he gets a bit older and understands the oddity of this writing style. Again, we love (both) movie versions of this fun story.

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS. We have a couple versions of this story but this one is, hands down, the coolest pop-up book I’ve ever seen. It’s truly a work of art, and Crew is fascinated with each page (some of them interactive). For a rather wordy and old fashioned story (who is this St. Nick they speak of?! And why is he smoking?! LOL) the elaborate art keeps him engaged and following along.

OLIVIA HELPS WITH CHRISTMAS. Crew has been an Olivia fan for a while — he gets a kick out of her naughty antics. So of course, this was a natural pick to keep the mischief going.

THE SWEET SMELL OF CHRISTMAS. This was one of the books that really helped Crew to “get” the whole idea of getting ready for Christmas (decorating, baking, etc) but also that Santa just comes on ONE night, not all month long. 🙂 Plus the scratch and sniff stickers are a fun sensory way to experience the season.

(Looking for younger readers? We’ve loved both Little Blue Truck’s Christmas – complete with twinkling lights at the end! – and Dream Snow by Eric Carle — love that you can feel the bumps of snowflakes!)

I’m a sucker for children’s books in general, so I love to hear what others are reading. Which good Christmas reads did I miss??

Halloween Classroom Treats

Bugs + Kisses Halloween Treats | www.lifeinyellow.com

I’ve always loved Halloween — it’s smack dab in the middle of gorgeous, festive, fall and the costumes, treats, and traditions are all so much fun. It’s a new (less spooky!) kind of fun with a kiddo, and this is the first year that Crew can actually understand reading and talking about trick-or-treating, answer people who ask him what he’s going to be, and (somewhat) understands how far off it is…(“I think Halloween is in two more tomorrows, Mom!”).

Bugs + Kisses Halloween Treats | www.lifeinyellow.com

The minute the merchandise hits the stores, I’m all over it. Because we can’t bring homemade treats to school, I kept an eye out for individually wrapped candies, and per Crew’s interest in bugs, found some little spring spiders that you push down to “lock” and then a few moments later they jump a couple feet in the air, to the delight of a certain two-year-old. Sold. I can’t take credit for the “bugs and kisses” — I saw it somewhere on Pinterest at some point and it stuck in my head! The spiders are from Target and I used these treat bags), and whipped up a business card size design to fold in half length-wise and staple across the tops. Quick and cute!

Halloween 2017: Crew’s Garbage Man Costume

DIY Garbage Man Costume

I always appreciate some costume idea inspiration sooner than later — so today I’m sharing Crew’s costume he’ll be donning in a few short weeks (and who are we kidding, several times before then!).

DIY Garbage Man Costume and Trash Can | www.lifeinyellow.com

DIY Garbage Man Costume and Trash Can | www.lifeinyellow.com

It was no surprise that of course Crew wanted to be a garbage man for Halloween (the first year he’s had any kind of say!). I had grabbed the vest at IKEA for dress-up (he’s a size 3T and it’s the smallest size they make — Youth XS). To make it a little more special, I ordered an iron-on patch with his name. As much as I love to make his costumes as opposed to buying them, we just had to have a piece of legit merchandise directly from Mecca — this youth size trucker hat was perfect, and he was SO excited when I showed it to him.

DIY Garbage Man Costume and Trash Can | www.lifeinyellow.com

Obviously, the best way to haul his loot this year would be in what else — a garbage can. We bought a black Sterilite flip-lid style, hit it with some green spray paint, and added a WM decal bought on eBay. Even though it said it was meant for plastic, the spray paint is pretty delicate and scratches/flakes easily, so right before Beggars Night arrives, I’ll probably hit it again for touch-ups.

DIY Garbage Man Costume and Trash Can | www.lifeinyellow.com

Page added two replacement 7” plastic grill wheels by running a threaded rod through the back-bottom of the can. Eight washers, two nuts, and two stop nuts later, Crew was mobile.

DIY Garbage Man Costume and Trash Can | www.lifeinyellow.com

To make it easier to pull, Page added a wooden handle that he also sprayed with the same paint. He drilled it directly into the back of the can.

DIY Garbage Man Costume and Trash Can | www.lifeinyellow.com

Crew has himself a mini-version of the big guy, and he could NOT be more excited!

DIY Garbage Man Costume and Trash Can | www.lifeinyellow.com

And if you’re in search of more ideas…see how we embraced the pacifier last year when Crew went as a scuba diver (and Dad was the shark who chased him!) and his very first Halloween when he went as Albert Einstein (scroll to the bottom of that post). 🙂 Happy costume planning!

gift ideas for the garbage / recycling truck enthusiast

garbage truck gift ideas | lifeinyellow.com

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If I’ve learned one thing since becoming a mama (to a garbage truck OBSESSED little boy), it’s that there’s a whole subculture of boys — and girls — like mine, who LIVE for garbage day. The garbage truck topic is a super specific one — there’s no Pixar movie or TV show about them, and there are far fewer books (the closest we can usually come are zillions of books about construction vehicles), and you know finding cute clothes or home decor items about, well, trash essentially — is a hurdle.

But if you have a garbage enthusiast in your world, you know they happy dance each week on trash day, you know they can hear the unique rumble of their stop-and-start brakes a mile away, and that they will find any excuse to throw something in the trash and dump it out. I never thought I’d add garbage truck expert to my resume, but here we are, and I feel compelled to share the best of what we’ve found (and loved) for anyone else looking to gift something to a future Waste Management worker. 😉

  1. Melissa & Doug recycling truck — this was Crew’s very first truck and it is STILL a favorite. In general, I find that even with all the bells and whistles some of these have, he prefers to make his own sound effects, and manually fill and dump the receptacles. A LITTLE frustrating for younger (under 2) to get the trash can on the levers just right, but with time, he figured it out.
  2. Dickie Toys garbage truck — this is probably the very favorite of Crew’s entire fleet. Rather large, but still quiet, this one has a simple one-touch button to raise and lower a dumpster into the top of the truck. The dumpster slides open as it dumps and any number of small toys/trash can fit inside. ENDLESS HOURS of entertainment from this one, and it’s still ticking after months of (daily) rough play.
  3. Garbage Truck pajamas — it’s tough, like I said, to make something with garbage trucks particularly cute, but these fit the bill. I do think they shrink but the price is right and they’re soft. I’ve since bought them again in the next size up.
  4. I Am a Garbage Truck — We literally wore out our copy of this, and while a super short/simple read, it teaches the difference between trash and recycling. Added bonus that the book is shaped like the truck.
  5. Trashy Town — I can’t say it’s on my top ten list of kids’ books across the board, but as far as this subject, it’s a cute read with cool illustrations and introduces us to Mr. Gilly, the garbage truck driver. We have since added a truck to our entourage that came with a driver, and of course, he is referred to as Mr. Gilly. There are only a handful of garbage truck books out there (we’ve purchased them all) and many of them stink (pun intended), so if you want a book on the subject, this would be my go-to title.
  6. VTech Go Go Smart Wheels garbage truck — I had to search a bit to find this particular vehicle, but it was worth it for as much as it’s been played with. Crew was a superfan of the VTech parking garage from day one his first Christmas, and we still rotate it in and out of play as he’s since learned to build tracks and play with it on a new level. He would have loved this little truck all on its own, but it’s especially a must-have if your kiddo has any of the Smart Wheels sets.
  7. Pottery Barn Kids recycling truck (currently on sale!) — Like I said, many of the trucks that get played with the most (and have also LASTED the longest) are the simplest ones, without all the buttons and batteries. The fact that there are “guys” that fit these trucks was a big deal for Crew, and the simple dumping truckbed can hold quite a bit.
  8. Garbage truck puzzle — While he needs help to build the puzzle (“it’s almost a garbage truck! we’re doing it!”) it’s a bonus that the truck itself Velcro opens and closes to hold the pieces, and the wheels actually roll.
  9. Play Doh garbage truck — This is one we don’t have but it’s on my list for future reference. Crew loves Play Doh but still needs something to DO with it — cookie cutters, plastic scissors, etc. This would be a fun addition to our Play Doh bin.
  10. Little Tikes Rey Recycler — I didn’t see this one until Crew was too old for it, although it still catches his eye when we see it at the store! For the littlest garbage fan, (or to keep a younger sibling out of an older one’s collection), this is a great starter truck!

And of course, if you want to see how we brought the garbage theme into Crew’s room decor, check out that post here!

Crew Does Two — The Second Quarter

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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 the last three months!

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So much growing up has happened from two and a quarter to two and a half! You potty-trained like a rockstar, the baby gates were finally uninstalled (not that we really USE them anymore, but they had been a great way to corral you and keep you out of the contractors’ way in the basement!) — and most recently, you’ve moved out of the crib, and your nursery, to a big kid room with a “big boy bed” that you are ridiculously proud of. The first couple weeks, you wouldn’t wander out, and you still stay put at bedtime and through the night, but when you wake up, you’ve started to get out and either play on your own, or come find us. All new levels of independence for you!

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You became fascinated by the fact that boys stand up and girls sit down to potty, and you’re all about babies in tummies (pregnancy) and the idea that your baby pictures are actually YOU and that you were once in my tummy. It kills me that you look at baby pics of yourself and say “awww he’s so cute!” ha!

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We are outside all the time — bike riding, gator driving, chalk drawing, water table playing, bug hunting — you name it. It’s been a great change of pace to take the energy and messes outside on a regular basis. It’s been fun to strike out on some “adventures!” around town exploring new parks and sights downtown, since you’re so much more capable this summer than last when it comes to climbing, balancing, etc.

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It seems almost irrelevant now to update on your language — you’re just full-blown talking, in complete sentences, and constantly working new words into your vocabulary. Just the other day you slipped “usually” into a sentence, in a semi-correct sense 🙂 In general it’s just lots and lots (and lots) of questions. “Mommy, what are you doing?” “Member? Member we go to the zoo?” “What’s that thing up there?” “Why?” “I hear something…what is that?”

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You are listening to every word and have a memory I’m downright jealous of. You’re also pretty good at holding your own in a debate. The one time you tried to get out of bed at bedtime (about a week after you moved to the big kid bed and I’d taken the crib apart that day), I talked to you over the monitor and said, “Crew, lay down and close your eyes, if you get up again you have to sleep in the crib.” To which you stared right into the monitor camera, frowned in consideration and said, “No Mom, you took the crib down.” Crew — 1. Mom — 0.

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Other sounds bytes we hear…

“It’s not nighttime yet. Nighttime is later.” (stalling for bedtime)

“I wake up and we go to the park.” (your concept of things happening in the future, although you’ve just recently started saying “in a few minutes” and “tomorrow”)

“You’re okay, Mom/Dad” (when you feel guilty for running into one of us with something — on the hour of every day!)

“I need a kiss and a hug!” (before leaving you with the sitter, or at school, or before I leave home for work)

“Mom I’m coming to play with you! We can share! We can take turns!” (you’re alllll about someone to play with, and the encouragement to take turns and share is pretty highly motivated by the fact that YOU want a turn at something) 😉

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You aren’t a bit shy, and are quick to wave to a stranger or introduce yourself to someone new. I’m constantly thinking about how to lead you to be friendly and trusting, but smart with a healthy dose of wary. (I’m constantly asking friends with kids how they teach stranger danger to a kiddo who asks random people in Costco to hold him?!)

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I love that you’re still a bit of a mama’s boy, and are so affectionate toward the people in your world. You throw sporadic hugs around your babysitter, dance up and down waiting for Mimi to pull into the driveway, and if I lay down with you for a minute to help you settle down for a nap/bedtime, you quietly rub my arm or my back (often asking me to rub yours in return ha!), and your kisses lately are pretty agressive 😉 You grab both sides of our faces to pull us in!

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I swear you remember every page of every book — you can recite key words/phrases on each page correctly. We’ve started to play the few games we’ve found for the age 2-3 crowd (Memory, Orchard, Cootie, etc). You’re so good about keeping track of whose turn it is and love to exclaim, “we’re all playing!”

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You nail right versus left MOST of the time, can accurately count to ten, although getting to twenty often repeats a number at least once. You have a whole repertoire of songs and sing all. the. time. often substituting words from whatever activity you’re doing at the moment…”Old McDonald had a waffle…” etc. 🙂

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You finally let us get a pair of flip flops on you (the cutest) but otherwise to Mom’s delight you are still super laid back about whatever I want you to wear (I’m thanking my lucky stars for each day this continues…). In general, you love jammies and would prefer to stay in them all day. Often when it’s time to get dressed, no matter what it is, you whine that you want to keep your “jammy pants” on.

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When you’re lost in thought or observing other kids, you either have your tongue out or your hands clasped behind your back. You love to cook, assist with any project, and while in general I think you’re pretty easy going and you have yet to throw a tantrum just to throw one, you DO go zero to sixty on the frustrated scale if we do something for you you know (or think) you can do yourself. I actively build in extra time now for everything because to KEEP my happy kid happy, we need the extra minute here and there for you to put on your own shoes, climb into your own carseat, etc. “I DID IT!” is a daily phrase in our house, as is “No Mom back up”, “Dad I got it!”, and several other variations on these Mr. Independence sayings. And God help the person who flushes the toilet for you. #rageblackout

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In early June, you moved up from the toddlers room at school to the “transition” room (as in transition to pre-school!!). We instantly noticed some new words/phrases as you hung with some new older kids. It’s officially “Mom and Dad” now — no mommy and daddy — and “oh my GOODNESS!” is your new dramatic exclamation. There were tears over missing your old teacher, but otherwise you are thriving in the older room with curriculum that’s more challenging for you. You’ll start to learn a little Spanish, have to follow directions like walking in a line, and do more activities around learning your letters. It makes my heart swell with pride to hear the reports that when a friend is hurt or crying, you share a toy or try to give them a hug. Compassion will get you everywhere, sweet boy.

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You’re a SMIDGE less picky of an eater than when I last blogged an update, but still definitely particular. You continue to hate any kind of noodle, but you finally realized you like peanut butter again, and you’re much more daring about trying a quick taste of just about anything new — although much of the time you still instantly tell us “I don’t like it.” I reflect a lot on how we started you on solids by pureeing everything — I think I’d take a different approach if I had it to do over. Aside from one or two fruits, you’re just now working up the courage to BITE into the ones aren’t in the form of applesauce/smoothie/etc.

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There are probably a million more little things I could think of on any given day to note here. And on the hour, you say something funny that I want to jot down in my memory forever. I can’t believe we’re already here, at two and a half. You’ve been here forever and yet time continues to fly.

As we get further from two and closer to three, stick with us as we try and navigate your need to do everything on your own. Keep needing us for other stuff. Continue to love fiercely with that oh-so-big heart of yours. Don’t stop your constant jumping and grinning. Carry on with your questions and never stop learning about your world. And more than anything, know how much we always love you, crazy kid of ours.

Love, 
Mom (but always Mommy)

Red, White, and BOY (‘Merica style for the little guys!)

Red White and BOY |www.lifeinyellow.com

1. dinosaur t-shirt | 2. 1776 hoodie (check out the matching shorts!) | 3. flag trunks
4. hot dog flag t-shirt | 5. seersucker trunks | 6. rockets t-shirt | 7. shoes

You know I’m always on a mission to seek out the harder-to-find cute boy clothes that are comfy enough they’ll love them, and original enough that I enjoy buying them. I’m a sucker for red, white, and blue any time of year, but especially during these summer months. Plus, cameras are always out on the 4th, so I know I’ll get a photo opp! If your little man is in need of something to wear to the parade, the fireworks, or whatever else you have planned, check out the above. (I’m loving the long-sleeveed hoodie for after the sun goes down, and we are total fankids of Native shoes — they are easy to get on and off, and do. not. stink!) Wishing you a safe and happy upcoming holiday!

Crew’s Big Kid Room (with garbage trucks, of course)

Big Kid Room Garbage Truck Theme | www.lifeinyellow.com

Even before we finished swapping the nursery and the big kid room, this oh-so-big kid was begging to sleep in here. He had exactly zero issues making the transition to new bed and new room, and we haven’t looked back…although I have a hunch as to why this room is where he wants to be. 🙂

big boy garbage truck room | lifeinyellow.com

I’ve always shied away from anything too “themed” when it comes to decorating — cohesive pieces, yes — color palette, yep — so as I rolled around the idea of working in some garbage trucks here and there (along with other favorite things) — I had to apply a little creative brainpower to make it COOL and not too cutesy or cheesy.

big boy garbage truck room | lifeinyellow.com

big boy garbage truck room | lifeinyellow.com

I tried not to invest too heavily in anything specific to garbage trucks, thinking ahead to when he’s onto the “next thing” …although I can’t imagine that day now. I have videos over a year old on my phone from him captivated by the garbage truck. It’s been a nearly lifelong love affair for this nearly two-and-a-half-year-old.

big boy garbage truck room | lifeinyellow.com

big boy garbage truck room | lifeinyellow.com

big boy garbage truck room | lifeinyellow.com

big boy garbage truck room | lifeinyellow.com

big boy garbage truck room | lifeinyellow.com

It was fun to share the final room with Crew, who saw the progress as it happened — furniture being moved in, crib being taken down, etc. But I waited to hang and place all the little details until one mad-dash evening before bedtime, so he could walk in and see the whole effect. He had no idea it was going to be a “garbage truck room” and it made me so happy to watch him gasp and grin and count them as he found them around the room.

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(Cut to me trying to shoot this wall, and Crew pretending he’s important and walking in front of my camera chattering away on a toy cell phone *eye roll*)

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big boy garbage truck room | lifeinyellow.com

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The “trash in my lamp!” was a big hit, as was the 3-foot-wide engineer’s print of him with “his” neighborhood truck. (A fun and different way to print your photographs — send to Staples and for around 3 bucks, you get a gritty/grainy effect black/white large scale print.)

big kid garbage truck room | www.lifeinyellow.com

The thing I didn’t quite foresee was what a hit the little vintage book would be — I like to incorporate something vintage in each room of our house, and I thought this would serve as charming little decor detail if nothing else. Turns out we’ve read it (multiple) times daily since it appeared on his shelf. I love that Crew refers to it as his “new old garbage truck book” after I explained he had to be careful with the pages!

big boy garbage truck room | lifeinyellow.com

big boy garbage truck room | lifeinyellow.com

Garbage trucks aside, we brought in a couple favorite animals — a lion (his favorite to see at the zoo) and a crocodile on one of the throw pillows. The stars and the moon are also both a big hit in his world. I liked Page’s idea to put the moon up high near the window, as opposed to my compulsive need to make everything part of an organized grouping in the room, and I love how it (and the wooden star) look against the night sky paint color. Some glow stars on the ceiling were the final touch.

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I was able to reuse quite a bit from his old room without it seeming babyish, as well as several things we already had on hand around the house. The corrugated metal letters were in his first room and seemed like a natural fit (he thinks they are made “out of trash cans”) and the concrete and wood stool is less a side table now and more a perch for a certain someone to look out his window (for what else…the garbage truck, whose route he can now see from this room!) The duvet we had on hand from when this room was still a guest room. I added a stripe of green paint to a cork lampshade from his nursery, spray painted his previously aqua “Things” bin to navy, and used white fabric paint to add a recycling icon to an Ikea pillow cover. A swap of hardware on his dresser (previously changing table) gave it a little facelift as well.

big boy garbage truck room | lifeinyellow.com

I’d still like to find a headboard, but haven’t come across quite what I’m looking for yet. I’m waiting until we’re less in need of the bedrails before adding a nightstand (too many sheet-changing obstacles!), but I like the idea of this one that would match his shelves. I considered these a couple times, but ultimately we don’t store much besides books and clothing in his room (toys and more books are both in our loft playspace outside his room and, soon, in the basement playspace).

big boy garbage truck room | lifeinyellow.com

No room tour would be complete without me patting myself on the back for cleaning out both rooms’ closets. Actually swapping the rooms around forced me to go through everything and move out the baby stuff. Hello, big boy closet space:

big boy garbage truck room | lifeinyellow.com

Thanks for checking out this little garbage enthusiast’s new digs!

big boy garbage truck room | lifeinyellow.com

Wishing you many happy memories in here, buddy, and lots of sweet dreams.

big boy garbage truck room | lifeinyellow.com

engineer print frame (Ikea, only available in store) | C pillow | crocodile pillow | striped duvet | polka dot sheets | plaid shams (Pottery Barn Kids, no longer available) | wood monogram | bedrails | green metal shelf | vintage childrens books | garbage truck watercolor print | “you make me happy” print | tiny trash can | wire basket | Trashy Town book | trash can wastebasket (Pottery Barn Kids, no longer available) | garbage truck patent print | lion head | wooden star | Moon in My Room | “Things” bin | black storage box | baby monitor | curtain panels | recycling truck costume (Pottery Barn Kids, no longer available) | nightlight

Finishing the Basement: the play space

I definitely jinxed myself saying we’d have flooring in for the next post — nope, backordered, then backordered FURTHER, and the latest update is that the mill is now making a whole new run of our carpet, so yes…more waiting.

So I figured in the meantime, I can still share some updated “in progress” pictures — this time, of the play space. This little cove wraps around the bottom half of our stairwell, forming an under-stairs clubhouse spot on the right, and a closet designated solely for toys (and storing baby gear up top) to the left.

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I have since finished arranging all the components just the way I like them (we went with the Ikea “Algot” system, and so far, I’ve been very pleased!). I’ve also been slowly relocating a few toys from upstairs down here — which will be a fun rediscovery for Crew when he can get down here to play in what is (hopefully!) a couple more weeks.
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We still have some work to do on the clubhouse. Since the first photo above was taken, our electrician installed both a light inside, and the “porch light” on the outside. We’ve purchased some plank style paneling that Page will rip into the shape of a house, and edge with some leftover trim we have on hand. Finally, when he builds a sliding barn door for the bottom of the stairway to help muffle some sound, his plan is to create a mini version to serve as Crew’s front door. I’m thinking a mailbox and/or a flower box of some sort is in order to make it especially homey! 🙂

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I’m waiting to take pics of the inside until it’s truly finished, but decorating this little spot has been so much fun! We will back soon (fingers crossed!!) with the reveal!