Category / Preschooler

Four.

Four years have both flown by and lasted forever. Our happy, articulate, goofy, energetic, kind-hearted, friendly-to-a-fault guy has been on the earth for 48 months and counting.

The consistency in writing your name on one line (not in a loop) continues to improve (you signed all your own thank you notes for Christmas and your birthday!). You can count to 39 but need to be reminded of “Forty…Forty-one…” to keep going. You are quickly grasping the concept of sounding out letters you recognize and with (a lot of) help, are reading a few simple sight words. Your drawing has evolved in a huge way — you actually dissect what you’re trying to draw and recreate it in your own way (a circle and eight lines to be a spider and eight legs, instead of not so long ago, a circle scribble several times over and done). People have eyes and arms and legs in your drawings. I find it so interesting to watch this particular area of development, because it’s such a big glimpse into how you think. You drew a “favorite food” the other day and started with toppings for a pizza, then drew the triangle slice AROUND the toppings, instead of what I would have done — draw a triangle first then fill it in with details. Your different perspective is so fun to see.

You’ve become much more interested in full-length movies (and parent shamers beware, you’ve seen –and been relatively unscathed by– all of the Jurassic Park movies). You saw your first movie in a theater with all of us over Thanksgiving (the new Grinch film) and LOVED every second of it. Dinosaurs are high on the list of current interests, along with a soft spot (still!) for garbage trucks, and any kind of gun/blaster/sword/weapon in general. You’re on the right team at least — you’re always playing some version of “get the bad guys”. Outer space, reading, painting, and just about any project with Dad all rank high on your list of favorite things.

The holidays were especially magical this year as you FULLY grasped the concept of Santa (you had MANY questions for him when you met him) and yet were very engaged and excited about shopping, wrapping, and giving on behalf of everyone else, taking particular care this year not to spoil surprises. You’re still pretty easy to please in terms of gifts and bang for our buck — when people ask what you got from Santa you most often reference the “giant lolly” of all things (a five dollar piece of plastic filled with ten Dum Dums inside). Sugar and candy rank high for you in general right now (but consequently, you’re trying MANY more foods now with the promise of a treat if you do so).

You were ecstatic to finally get some snow and though you’re still not a huge thrill seeker (sledding is cool only if the hill isn’t too high or fast) you LOVE snowball fights and shoveling with Dad. You’d live in jammies all day every day if we let you, only taking them off to take half hour long spa showers. Forever a spa baby! At 35 pounds and 39 inches, you rolled into four asking for a bowling date with a couple friends for your celebration. We kept things low key this year with a pending trip to Disney — The celebration continues soon at the most magical place on Earth!

Happy four years and counting to our very favorite human. You fill our hearts and make us so proud every day!

Gift Guide for 4 Year Olds: Favorite Toys and Books

About once a year, I love to share what Crew is especially into as far as books and toys and activities. I LOVE a good gift guide from others whose kids are a step ahead of us to plan for future gift ideas — or to learn what’s hot in an age group I’m less familiar with and need to buy for. Fresh off of Christmas and a fourth birthday just after, we’ve had a very fun (and frankly, needed!) replenishment of new and more age advanced things to do. I love the variety of things Crew is interested in right now — it made it especially fun to shop for him this year (yes, there was still a garbage truck on the list, but at least it wasn’t ALL trucks!). He received a little of everything – action-based, STEM, literary, artsy, musical. Without further adieu, here are the things that are topping our list right now:

This Hape marble run set was gifted to Crew for his birthday. I later learned you can buy other sets and add on, but for now, this is plenty to play with and you can assemble and reassemble it in a few different configurations. We had one of these (plastic) once upon a time and it wasn’t sturdy enough and thus frustrating. Wood, Hape-quality is the way to go on this one. I have visions of saving it for my grandchildren to come play with someday!

The pricetag on the Osmo Creative Kit gave me pause initially — would he like it enough to justify it? I hadn’t heard from anyone firsthand about it. (Click the link and view the demo video to get the full effect!) This kit works with an iPad or Kindle to interact with your child’s drawings. Crew likes to draw but it’s not how he spends his days on end…until maybe now! He LOVES the interaction piece and the challenge to draw different things. I’m not kidding when I say the first time he sat down with this, because it could be completely self-guided, he logged easily an hour-plus and many hours since then. I love that we’re using the iPad for something OTHER than YouTube (eye roll) and I can actually see his wheels turning and his fine motor skills improving. Part of the price of this kit is the base that allows the tablet to work with these kits; once you have that, the other kits can be ordered WITHOUT a base, bringing the cost down a bit. I definitely would consider this pizza kit that allows the child to prepare pizza orders and count back change (again! watch the video to see how it works!), in another year or so.

These remote control bumper cars have been a HUGE hit. More than just an RC car, when one hits the others side button just right, the driver goes flying, to Crew’s giggling delight. They are a bit hard to control for a four year old, but it doesn’t seem to matter, because with two going at once, it’s chaos anyway πŸ™‚

Crew had spotted this piano mat many times over in the Target toy aisle (he loved the beats created by pressing the buttons, but it was still in the box, so he didn’t even understand the extent of what it did) It has been a big hit from both a music standpoint and a winter indoors energy-burner! I notice the price on this on Amazon fluctuates — so check both spots! There are tons of games to play on this mat, from prancing around and tapping out a song, to make silly noises, to creating different beats, or just chasing around hopscotch-style while different music notes light up.

The Instax Mini in our house actually belongs to me (polaroids make great party favors at get-togethers!) but as I’m trying to cultivate some interest in photography with Crew, I’ve been letting him carry it around more and more, and the price point isn’t much more than other “kids cameras” on the market. It’s awesome for making photography tactile at this age and it creates some instant gratification to have a physical picture to look at that he made himself. He quickly understood the idea that the film is not unlimited like digital photography, so he’s learning to stop and think about what he wants to take a picture of, and he understands that when the 10 pictures run out, they’re gone. I’m rationing the film with him but already thinking ahead to Easter basket and future stockings — packs of film would be something he’d get VERY excited about!

Crew was SO INTO The Story Orchestra Nutcracker (featuring, of course, Tchaikovsky’s work) over Christmastime that I had to buy another title to get us past the season, so I went with Four Seasons in One Day (featuring the work of Vivaldi). The little snippets of famous classical music are just the right length for his attention span, and the interactive buttons keep it even more engaging. He loves to to pick out his favorites exclaiming that they sound scary or spooky or silly. There’s only one other title in this series so far, but I’m hoping they create more! We LOVE books and some of the newest additions that have received rave reviews are Knock Knock, The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade, Cookies! (the latest in a fun interactive cooking series we’re big fans of), and 3, 2, 1 Blast Off (a fantastic book about the solar system that doesn’t get too wordy or technical like most, for the littlest outer space enthusiasts).

Happy gifting — four is already shaping up to be SUCH a fun age!

Post may contain affiliate links, but all opinions are my own.

Age 3: Q3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love you fiercely.

Mom

Dragons Love Tacos Halloween Costume

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

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

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

Dragons Love Tacos Halloween Costume | lifeinyellow.com

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

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

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

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

Classroom Halloween Treats: Witch’s Brew Bath Bombs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE RECIPE:

1 cup baking soda

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

1/2 cup corn starch

1/2 cup epsom salt

3 Tbsp almond oil or grapeseed oil

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

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

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

TO MAKE YOUR BATH BOMBS:

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

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

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

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

Witch’s Brew Printable

Happy Halloween!!

Fall Book List

Just give me alllll the fall reads — I’m not sure who is more excited for the season, me or my mini!

Our current list of must-reads:

The Scariest Book Ever has the boldest, most “popping” illustrations that are so fun to look at. This was a big hit last year when he was only two, but loves it all over again this year at three, and it’s funny for the adults reading it, as well.

Gilbert the Ghost I’ll admit, is better loved by Crew than by me. But it’s not too spooky and gets at the moral of being inclusive.

No Such Thing Β is probably my favorite of this list — from the beginning the character doesn’t believe in ghosts and explains away all the weird things happening, only to find out maybe there IS such a thing, in the end.

How To Make Friends with A GhostΒ is a little wordy yet for Crew, so I shorten it as I read. He laughs out loud out the antics of befriending a ghost, and I love the idea that your ghost is “with you” from your youngest to your oldest days.

ThankfulΒ is obviously a good read with the message of gratitude — I haven’t found many “Thanksgiving” books but of them, this is my favorite.

The Little Children’s Halloween Activity BookΒ is sure to keep Crew busy when we need a time-filler (restaurants, road trip, etc) and it’s nice to have something fresh in the mix, and relevant to the season. Always love Usborne’s activity items!

Vampirina Ballerina is one we checked out from the library to test run. I thought it was adorable, but based around a girl’s love of ballet, it didn’t hold Crew’s interest. I’d definitely recommend it for the girls, though!

Stumpkin is one I stumbled on at the bookstore the other day and will be going back to pick up. I’d never heard of it, but at first flip through, I love the story sentiments around the idea of being “perfect”.

Ghosts is another on our wish list — I try to add a new title or two each year, and this will likely be one of them!

Which titles did I miss???

5 Boy Outfits for Fall

I can’t tell you how much fun I have going through Crew’s closet each season. Maybe it’s the fact that kids literally get an ALL NEW wardrobe every year because they’ve grown, maybe it’s that everything is just cuter in little sizes…maybe it’s just that kids clothes are so much FUN! It was so hard to choose, but I kept it to five outfits (and one jammie set, of course!) using a bunch of my favorite pieces. Some items are purchased new this year, and some were bought ahead last year and are no longer available (NLA). I’ve linked exact products where I can, but at the very least, you hopefully come away with some fun *BOY* outfit ideas!

chambray shirt | cranberry tee (Target NLA) | numbers joggers | shoes | beanie (Etsy NLA)

velvet blazer (Target NLA) | pie tee | (SandiLake NLA) | pull-on jeans (Hudson NLA) | saddle shoes (similar)

sweater (Hanna Andersson NLA)| long sleeved tee | striped joggers | olive boots

FriYAY tee | yellow tee | pull-on jeans | Hunter boots

plaid buttondown | navy sweater | olive harem pants | moccasins

PSM tee | jammies

Favorite Backpacks for Toddlers and Preschoolers

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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! πŸ˜‰

Post contains affiliate links.