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

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

You can actually see those little wheels turning and growing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read my list of toddler book recommendations here.

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our master bedroom (and a cozy update)

Master Bedroom | www.lifeinyellow.com

I haven’t shared much of our master bedroom since we moved in almost three years ago. But as the temps dropped this fall, I was ready to cozy up the summery-feeling bedding I had in there, and make a couple other small changes as well.

Because of our geriatric bed (two adjustable twin mattresses on a king frame), I’m pretty locked into the plain white sheets we currently use — otherwise I’d be buying three sets of some cute design to get the two twin fitted, one king flat, and various sized pillowcases I’d need to outfit our bed. So keeping the sheets white, I brought home a flannel duvet/sham set, and added some velvet, waffle knit, and faux fur. Just give me all the comfy textures for cold weather!

Master Bedroom | www.lifeinyellow.com

The wrapping up of the year always means we’ve recently updated our family photos, and our bedroom is one particular spot I love to have those on display. So I’ve been swapping out a couple here and there and adding a couple more frames. A couple of new candles with woodsier/wintery scents and the seasons have officially clicked in this room.

The only furniture in here aside from the bed are our two nightstands (you can read more about how we hacked these from IKEA furniture here).

Page made the oversized floor mirror (read more about here!) and I love the way the size balances out the high ceilings and our wardrobes, just to the right of it.

Just before snapping these pics, we did some serious donating and consigning in our wardrobes (which we still LOVE — read more about how we built them here) and in our closet. Having less to keep organized is seriously helping the zen factor in here. Bring on winter – I’m happy to hunker down in here for a bit!

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??

flex room update (yes, again!)

flex room | www.lifeinyellow.com

Peeking in on our flex room again…

flex room | www.lifeinyellow.com

…We have some new lovelies setting up shop.

flex room | www.lifeinyellow.com

These chairs are so comfortable and the mid-century vibe was exactly what I wanted more of in this room.

flex room | www.lifeinyellow.com

flex room | www.lifeinyellow.com

This space finally feels pulled together to me with the balancing of the sofa with two chairs, and a coffee table and floor lamp to ground it all. It’s fun to swap out the accent colors in here with the season and right I’m playing around with mustard yellow and cozy gray flannels.

flex room | www.lifeinyellow.com

Similar Sofa | Pom Pom Pillow | Gold Pillow | Floor Lamp

We hang out in this room a LOT –more than I anticipated.  I think it’s the huge dose of sunshine and light/bright walls, the zen that comes with a toy-free/TV-free zone, and the room itself is just a cozier, more defined space than some of the more open-concept parts of our home.

flex room | www.lifeinyellow.com

Rug | Chairs | Dot Pillows | Brass Frames

The final thing we’d like to do in here is to add some built-ins. We want to draw attention to the high ceiling and dormer window above, so we’re talking through adding some chunky, open shelving beginning at chair rail height and staggering all the way to the break in the ceiling. Inspo picture from Yellow Brick Home below!

floatingshelves_yellowbrickhome

Source

…and here’s my quick and dirty sketch of where I’d place them.

ShelvingMockup

Shelves are one item on a very long list of projects right now (and Page is currently busy OUTSIDE our home building a project I can’t wait to share — soon!). I’m hopeful that this one might get ticked off the list while we’re inside and restless this winter. But until then, I’m enjoying this room that feels blissfully “finished”!

flex room | www.lifeinyellow.com

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

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

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!

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!