Category / Preschooler

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!

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Crew’s Third Birthday // Trash Bash Garbage Truck Party

This past weekend, we celebrated this guy. <3

The theme, of course, was “Trash Bash” and featured a lot of garbage trucks and trash — a tall order for making things “cute” and “appetizing” ha! The details had to be rather mobile this year, as we rented some space as opposed to hosting in our home. This definitely limited set-up time, and the chance to get more than some quick snapshots, but it was a TOTAL win to not have to clean our home (before AND after!) and having the indoor playspace all to ourselves was the perfect way for the kiddos to burn off some energy (especially after we’ve had days on end of temps around zero!). It was a team effort (thanks Mom and Dad for all the help!) and of course Page pulled out some tricks to make my hair-brained ideas become a reality, such as whipping up a 2×4 frame to keep my photo prop truck standing.

As always, I save the pics with the kiddos just for our friends rather than share them here on the blog, but know that I DID to my heart’s delight get a shot of three cutie boys smiling at me through the window of this truck painted on — what else — an Amazon box. The road was a cheap black wedding runner and I stuck pieces of yellow duck tape down the center.

I set a kid’s table with reusable plates from Target that went home with each kiddo. I’ll link all supplies below, but these garbage truck cups from Etsy were a huge hit with Crew!

The idea was to keep it “trashy” right? So crumpled newspaper, tissue paper, and balloons made a wonky garland across the table, and silver tablecloths and little metal pails everywhere added to the “trash can” vibe.

I pulled the 3-foot print of Crew and “his” truck off his bedroom wall to add some last-minute backdrop (again — quick setup time so it had to be easy!) and we set up the food…

My favorite part is always naming the food and making the signage 😉

(More duck tape…this time ripped and wrapped around the bottled water!)

The babies went home with applesauce pouches (green, of course!) and the big kids got trash cans with candy, silly straws, and jars of slime.

At the last minute, I couldn’t resist adding more candy. Worms and bottles both seemed gross and trashy — and okay, those wax bottle candies actually ARE kind of gross — but both were a big hit with this crowd!

We kept it simple with pizza and after debating having the kids MAKE slime as a party activity, I vetoed in favor of just letting them wear themselves out in the playspace. Mission accomplished!

While he’s ready for both some present and spotlight detox after the Christmas-Birthday one-two punch, Crew truly enjoyed his party and all the fun surrounding his birthday in general, talking about each friend and activity all weekend long.

Happy birthday to our favorite THREE year old!

black aisle runner // green reusable plates // garbage truck cups // garbage truck and trash can cutters (cheese) // mini garbage cans (favors) // large white can with lid

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Crew Does Two: The Fourth Quarter

Crew Update // Year 2 Quarter 4 (Photo by April+August)

You turn three this week. (Excuse me while I clap for joy and choke back a lump in my throat, all at once!)

Sometimes I can’t believe this birthday is already here, and yet I often forget you’re only 36 months new in this world. You have moments where you’re already wise beyond your years, you’re a smart little cookie, and the number one thing we hear is how verbal and outgoing you are for your age. So yes, I suppose the math is right and you’re due to turn three. And yet…didn’t we just meet, in a hospital room, in the middle of the night, in a snowstorm?

Cut to three years later. You have a lot more hair and a personality that makes me burst with pride. You’re uber-friendly, love fiercely, are developing a sense of humor and like to tell us your version of a joke, then say you’re “just kidding”. You thrive around people and have never met a stranger. You’re positive and excited about any and every experience, you want to know everyone’s names, and you’re full of questions about everything.

You love to play games where we’re all together. You sing All. The. Time. (real songs and ones you make up) and get especially excited about spotting water towers when we’re in the car. You love to cook (imaginary but prefer the real deal) and mazes and magnets are high on your list of interests. It goes without saying, but this is all still secondary to garbage trucks and anything associated (the trash can aisle at Target is one of your faves). You are no happier than when you have a special job or task to do, the most popular of which is bringing all the trash cans in the house to dump into our large kitchen one — whether or not it’s trash day.

You’re freaked out by thunder, noodles, and tunnel slides. In that order. I’m happy to report that after months (seriously, since maybe September?) of you coming into our bed within a couple hours of bedtime nervous to sleep by yourself, you now make it most nights on your own until 5 or 6 before coming in, and once in a while, we don’t see you until morning. #progress

Everything that has already happened, happened “last week”. It could have been this morning, or a month ago — it was all “last week”.

Your manners have improved dramatically — way less reminders to use “please” and “thank you” — and you’ve started to say them with overly dramatic emphasis, especially with our Elf on the Shelf, Dash. (“THANK YOU for my gingerbread house, Dash!!!”)

You would prefer to stay in jammies all day, but when you do get dressed, you still don’t fight me on whatever I want to put you in (yay!). You particularly love shoes and when a new pair appears, you ask to wear them around the house immediately. It makes it hard not to shop for you, when you seem to appreciate it almost as much as I do! I had to laugh at Thanksgiving — I had to wake you up VERY early from a nap so you were less than thrilled about anything, including getting dressed. But when you spotted yourself in the mirror wearing your bow tie and suspenders, you broke into a grin and checked yourself out. So funny!

You moved up to the three-year-old room at school this month. We talked about it beforehand but you were sad and still had a couple tears come day one as you missed your previous teacher. Two days in, you excitedly told me you were headed to the new room that day — it’s been back and forth on levels of enthusiasm and you miss your old teachers and classmates, but you are definitely thriving.

We didn’t realize just how ready you were for the move up. You are tasked with filling your own plate at meals (and we hear you are eating better, as a result!), pouring your own drinks and ditching your pacifier for naps (we followed suit at home and within a week you no longer asked for it at naptime – you love to declare now that because you’re big you only use it at nighttime). You get to enjoy new freedoms like playing on the BIG KID playground instead of the toddler one, and a whole new set of toys and activities to peruse each day. Your previous teachers (and others) have noted several times how verbal and outgoing you are. It’s been refreshing to see you be able to have more significant conversations with your peers now that you’re with this older group. You are always “that kid” giving everyone hugs and enthusiastically yelling out “hi [Name]!” to each friend. In your previous room, depending on a two-year-old’s mood, you may or may not get anything in response, and I could tell it was starting to hurt your feelings when it happened. My favorite thing about this new, older, age group is all the reciprocated conversation and enthusiasm you’re experiencing from the other kids. You play it cool, but sincerely grin at all the “Bye, Crew! See you tomorrow!”s when I pick you up now.

Crew Update // Year 2 Quarter 4 (Photo by April+August)

New favorite foods this quarter are pizza, strawberries, pancakes, and gingerbread anything. Texture is still a big thing for you. You’ve started to actually eat little hard candies (smarties, etc) that before you would just suck on and spit out, nervous to chew. You are still hit or miss on trying a bite of something new, but if we catch you in the right mood, it DOES happen. You are still an avid milk drinker, but won’t touch chocolate milk (or hot chocolate as we’ve tried a couple times this season!).

Of course, you went as a garbageman for Halloween. And I can’t wait to share a separate rundown of your “Trash Bash” 3rd birthday party! Garbage trucks are still your favorite toys — and as many as we seem to collect, they all serve a different purpose and have a spot in your heart! (They are also excellent for hauling around another little treasure — your safety coins that you earn at swim lessons!) It’s so fun to see as you grow which things become “treasures” in your world.

Speaking of swimming, you are still doing weekly lessons and making great strides. But the thing that really gets you pumped up (and frankly, out the door on Monday mornings) is the promise of soccer practice. You’ve been doing a weekly program at school with some of your classmates and you are ALL about it. You also love kicking a ball around with us at home. Thank goodness for Dad; you’ve already passed me up in dribbling skills.

You’d think all this activity would keep you needing sleep but alas, after three very grateful years of a 3.5+ hour napper (and 12 hours at night), you’re finally cutting yourself back. In part, I think because of the lack of a paci now at naptime, and I think you’re just outgrowing the need for so much sleep. A typical day is now 1.5 to maybe 2 hours, and you aren’t ready to truly fall asleep until closer to 8:30 or even 9, still sleeping until about 7:30 most mornings. (You went ONE day without a nap and promptly passed out, HARD, when we got in the car to go somewhere at 5:30 that evening, so I don’t think you’re ready to drop it altogether!)

The holiday season was especially fun this year as you could grasp more of the concepts and the real “magic” has begun to set in. We took you on a Polar Express train ride and you were SO. EXCITED. to see Santa come on board to hand out jingle bells.

You got so excited for Christmas lights on all the houses, and spent every December morning checking on Dash, our elf, to see what crazy thing he’d been up to. You make everything more fun and we’re so lucky to have known you these last three years. Our hearts burst for you when you’re excited, and ache when you’re sad, and we know there’s so much more of that to come. We can’t wait to see what is in store for you as you make your way to four.

Happy birthday week, little light. Thanks so much for picking us for this parenthood adventure.

(Shout out to  April + August for the family and lollipop photos, pictured above!)