Category / Kiddos

Favorite Backpacks for Toddlers and Preschoolers

1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8

It’s that back-to-school time of year and there are SO many cute backpacks out there — but so many are HUGE and nearly impossible for the littlest of students to carry.

Today I’m sharing my favorites for the “pint size” packs — so many of these come in additional colors and prints, and BONUS, they’re all available on Amazon! 😉

Post contains affiliate links.

The Book List at Three (and a HALF!)

If you’ve spent a minute on this blog, you know we are total suckers for children’s books around here. I always manage to find room in the budget for the bookstore, we go to the library on the regular for even more, and I’m always on the hunt for new recommendations from others as well. I blogged our most recent list here for age 3 here (and our 12-24 month list here) and only six months later, the interests continue to evolve and we discover even more awesome titles. Nothing is set in stone yet…but I think we might have a Halloween costume this year based on a favorite book. 🙂 Below is a rundown of a few of the current favorites:

Square and Triangle (of the Shape trilogy) — I love the monochromatic illustrations in these books and the simple stories between the character shapes, that are laced with a little humor. After Triangle was a hit, I quickly reserved a copy of Square when it was released…and Circle is due out next spring.

I’m a big fan of Jon Klassen’s books, and similar to the shape series, there is some comedy woven into I Want My Hat Back, a simple tale of a a bear who’s lost his hat.

I wasn’t sure how Be Kind would go over (would there be enough “action” to the story to keep him interested?), but Crew was captivated by all the practices of kindness, and has been asking ever since on the daily, “that was kind, right Mom?”

I had added Stuck to our Amazon wish list, and happened upon it at the library shortly after. Let’s just say after out-loud giggles, this one will likely become a permanent fixture in our house. A funny story of a boy who gets his balloon stuck in a tree and throws item after item into the tree to knock it down, and by the end is throwing larger than life objects.

Another Oliver Jeffers book, we love the illustrations in Here We Are, a quick run-down of what it is to live here on Earth. The page with alllll the things living in the sea is particularly captivating and always generates a lot of questions. 🙂

We received Shh! We Have A Plan as a board book when Crew was born, and I loved the illustrations (do you sense a theme here?) from the get-go. But recently, it has received all new life now that Crew really likes the STORY behind the pictures. (Crew lives out this story in our yard now with the birds — hilarious!) (We’ve loved every title by this author, and I think we need to own Little Owl Lost, next!)

The Book with No Pictures is in heavy rotation lately. Funny and silly, I love that it encourages more listening to the words and less relying on images to follow along. Be prepared to sound ridiculous when reading this one. 😉

All of the above can be found on Amazon but I currently have a big Usborne order en route as I type this — we’ve never been disappointed by any of our reads from there and I’m anxious to check out the newest releases and share favorites from there, soon!

What are your kiddos’ current favorite reads??

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

Inspired: Project Faceless

A few things have been happening lately, and they’re inspiring some changes in how I approach sharing our life online.

A few months back, I woke to a friend’s comment tagging me in the Instagram post by a baby food brand. A major, household, parent-centric brand. There in the post was my child staring back at me. The photo was: taken from my blog without my permission (strike 1), photoshopped (strike 2), of my minor child – again no permission (MAJOR strike 3), and even if I could have seen past all of that, I wasn’t so much as credited in the caption or a comment. My mama blood boiled, I worked to get the post removed from their feed (and an apology was issued — but seriously, WHO is running their social media that they think is acceptable?). I ultimately got around to being frustrated with MYSELF that the content was out there in the first place to be misused.

I won’t pretend for a second that I’m any “big” blogger, but over the years, I’ve experienced strangers asking me if I’m “Life in Yellow” (much more common than my actual name ha). I always kind of laughed it off and figured it’s par for the course when you put so much of your life online. Then we had our son, and as babies do, he changed rapidly from month to month these early years. He now has hit that stretch where he still looks quite similar now as he did a full year ago, and thus he’s easier to recognize. Something we’ve learned as we’ve had a couple encounters where people who’ve never met him (innocently enough) remark that they know him, and even call him by name. While we KNOW these people mean nothing but good, this recognition coupled with our son’s instant bestie status with EVERYONE, for lack of a better term, freaked me out.

I was moved by this podcast by some of my faves, Young House Love, on protecting their children’s privacy. Once sharing on the same level I have (birth stories, monthly updates, etc) they no longer use names or show faces of their kids. Their children, while older than our own, are that much more in need of their own space and privacy, and as John points out at one point, it’s up to THEM to decide who, if anyone, they want to be online.

This moved me, big time.

Privacy, safety, exploitation (even if the “innocent” kind, by a brand trying to sell toddler snacks) – MORE than enough reason for me to make this call. I shared my thoughts with Page and he was quick to agree it made sense. The photographer in me (and of course the proud mom) longs to share every little bit, but I’ve always tried to find a balance, and now more than ever. There is plenty to share, in creative ways, that allows me to blog about motherhood (hello, cute room decor, outfits, stocking stuffers and party planning!), and still protect my son. I’ve been further inspired by the work of #projectfaceless photographers, like this one, who are beautifully and authentically capturing childhood in creatively anonymous ways. Challenge accepted!

I know there’s no perfect way to do this. Yes, he will still show up in our private social media. Yes, he may still show up in my blog instastories (that don’t get saved) and no, I’m not going to work backward and delete every picture I’ve posted. Yes, I realize he was just on national news for his love of garbage trucks, and there’s no net I can cast to reign that in. So I’m just making the conscious decision now, going forward, to be more aware and share less here and on the blog’s social media. I LOVE following along with the littles of bloggers and others who share their lives publicly, but this is simply the right choice, right now, for US. Thanks for the support as we go faceless! <3

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!

Post contains affiliate links.

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!