Category / For the Kiddos

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.

*post contains affiliate links*

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 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!

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!

Potty Training Essentials (and 5 things that worked for us)

Potty Training Essentials | www.lifeinyellow.com
potty training seat | flushable toddler wipes | OXO travel potty and extra bags | Even Firefighters Go to the Potty | Potty
Big Boy Underpants  (girl version here!)| the BEST underpants by Kickee Pants (available in girl styles, too)

If you follow Life In Yellow on Instagram, you may have spotted the exciting news at our house…no more diapers! People love to tell you that boys in particular are hard to potty train…but I found it to be pretty darn easy overall! I think we put it off anticipating a lot of dragged out progress, but all in all, after a couple of days hanging almost exclusively at home as we all figured out the mechanics, within a week we were feeling like he had it about 95% mastered and had several (successful!) trips out of the house under our belt.

Every kid is different and of course ready at different times. Crew had become way more interested in everything bathroom-related, and I took the interest as reason enough to give it a go, before the window of opportunity passed us by.

I think this kind of stuff is ultimately as hard as you make it out to be and it’s easy to overthink it. I took the approach of “okay, maybe this won’t work and if not that’s okay, but let’s plan that it WILL, so I’ll have all the stuff I need on hand“. I also read enough to educate myself on the basics, but not so much that I started to psyche myself out with a bunch of “rules”. If we got a day in and it became clear I had misread all his readiness signs, I was completely prepared to chill out and try again in a couple months. We didn’t follow any set schedule or “method”, we just picked a weekend he was healthy/happy and we had little on the agenda, so we could tag-team the extra-close attention we needed pay for a couple days while he got the hang of it all. Oh, and obviously we TALKED. UP. a garbage truck toy as bribery. 😉

Again and again, I look to bloggers and moms who’ve “been there” for product suggestions and reviews, so today I’m sharing my punch list of products that helped to make potty training a piece of cake! If you’re interested further, I made a few notes below about the items on the list, and a couple of tips that worked for us!

  1. Potty versus potty seat — it made sense to me to just stick him on a regular potty from the get-go. At his school, they use a “real” one (although lower to the ground), and when out and about, he’ll have no choice but to use the real ones, and I didn’t want him to be afraid of them. I bought a couple kinds to have one on each level at home, but this one was our favorite — comfy for long sits and no seams to pinch anything!
  2. Flushable wipes and a travel seatbecause it’s way easier than TP and frankly more “familiar” to him to use a wipe. We did add a waterproof liner to his car seat but have yet to experience an accident. It gives me major peace of mind to make further ventures from home if I know we have the travel potty in the trunk!
  3. Lots of books for motivation — We started reading here and there about going to the potty a couple months ago and his interest in the books directly reflected his interest in the potty — one of the ways I felt he showed he was ready was to ask to read them much more frequently and then reference them when we were in a bathroom. I was drawn to the books that could be a bit more specific in terms of gender, and that, for the most part featured the “big” potty versus the little ones (see note #1!).
  4. Underpants (SOFT ones!) — I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t do characters on my kid’s clothing! But when mom after mom told me to let him pick some, I did — and despite the fact he barely knew Thomas or Paw Patrol, in the moment he seemed to like them, so we took a few home. And I hated them. They were cheap and scratchy and my apparently pampered son told me more than once he didn’t want them on. While it’s hard to find many aside from the cheapos that run small enough for a two-year-old, I kept on with my search. If you need undies that run on the smaller side and/or have a younger and smaller potty-trainer on your hands (my stash of adorable Gap ones have yet to fit!), I bought pairs that fit like a dream from the notoriously soft Kickee Pants brand (pictured above) and this set from Boden, also super soft. I laughed out loud when, on more than one occasion, Crew told me “oh they’re so nice and soft!”. Hey — whatever it takes!
  5. Rewards — I printed out a sticker chart and bought an arsenal of stickers…and should have known better. My kid just isn’t really jazzed by stickers in the first place — so a chart that lets him put up a sticker each time he tries/goes/whatever…just didn’t help. We quickly changed course and he got a couple of mini M&Ms each time he tried – success or not. I had heard stories of kids “rationing it” in an attempt to get more successes/treats, and I didn’t want that! I worried that the M&M thing would backfire over time, but we just slowly phased it out or “forgot” or distracted him after the first couple days, and he no longer expected any treats after a couple more days. We also used suckers in the beginning as a reward for trying — the fact that they last longer was great for minutes on end of sitting and waiting, with the deal being that he had to be on the potty to have one. And of course there was the BIG reward that we talked up the whole first weekend — and it became our first big potty-trained outing to go get it — going to the store to pick out a new garbage truck. Whenever Crew was getting tired of our requests to try (after the first few he was kind of over it) we talked up the truck all weekend long to keep him motivated – and it worked!

And finally — celebrate! Page and I busted out dance moves and cheers and we shouted it from the rooftop driveway! 😉 Guys! We haven’t changed a diaper in over a week — life is amazing! 🙂

(And in other news…) 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

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Easter for the Boys

Between the pink and pastel-dominated holidays of Valentines and Easter, it’s sometimes hard to find stuff that doesn’t feel super girly, for the boys. So I’ve been on the hunt (hehe pun intended) for basket contents for a certain someone who has a special place in his heart for trucks, bugs, and everything else you might traditionally associate with BOY.

I’ve rounded up a few things that will be appearing in somebunny’s basket this year, should you be looking for some toddler/boy inspiration!

Easter for the Boys | lifeinyellow.com

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Crew is obsessed with all things trucks, and loves putting things inside other things, and has a slight obsession with garage doors. So his dreams pretty much all came true when we discovered Tiny Tonkas — there are more than a dozen to collect and they fit in his hot little hand. Each comes with a garage and as you collect them, the garages can hook together in a row. You’d think we’d have lost more of these because of how TINY they are, but he keeps close tabs on these treasured toys!

I love clothing that is more off the beaten path and not on repeat at every big box store (and on every other kid at day care!) so Etsy is a go-to for me, for little boys’ clothing. I loved this take on what could otherwise be a really feminine bunny tee — but given the cool factor!

We are in a major I SPY phase, after getting a first couple of books for Christmas. I opted not to do the “Little Hearts” version for Valentines (but note to self, should you need VDay ideas for next year!) and went for the “Little Bunnies” edition instead.

It’s been a while since it was warm enough to be bug weather, but that doesn’t keep Crew from spotting them in every book, game, movie, etc. Plus who doesn’t love a good pop-up book?

This egg sidewalk chalk made its way into Crew’s basket last year, and it’s still the batch he reaches for most when we’re coloring outside. I think because it’s easiest to hold and sturdiest against breaking. I finally threw out the worn-down nubs at the end of the season — time for a fresh batch to kick off Spring! (Note: Just the other day, I also found egg chalk at World Market.)

I loved this carrot take on a traditional popper — something Crew hasn’t yet partaken in. I also liked that the treats inside AREN’T candy — he’ll get enough of that as it is!

The words “bow tie” were in Crew’s vocab long before he hit two. I love that this kid likes to dress, and I love Janie and Jack’s classic, quality, childrens clothing for when you want to go the preppy route. I can’t wait to share his Easter outfit for church!

And while (of course) I bought Easter jammies long ago (okay, over a year ago — I love to shop the sales and plan ahead!) I thought both these and these were so cute but still “cool” for little men.

I’m excited to incorporate some Easter traditions this year — maybe an egg hunt outside, weather permitting? What are some of your favorite Easter activities with littles??