Category / For the Kiddos

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

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!

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

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

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??

toddler bookworm: a 12-24 months reading list

Toddlers Reading List | lifeinyellow.com

Crew is ALL about the books, and has been for some time. Fortunately for us, he’s moving from some of the touch and feel books with no words, to some with a BIT more plot. Of course we have the classics in rotation — Goodnight Moon, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and others — but I’ve discovered so many new favorites in recent months and always love to share hit titles with other parents and caregivers. It’s fun to think ahead to reading some of the more elaborate, classic stories I remember reading as a child, but for now I’m enjoying a toddler in my lap, asking to read these simple but sweet titles over and over…(and over).

Toddlers Reading List | www.lifeinyellow.com

Noisy Trucks A title we discovered at our library, I admittedly am a fan of this one because, while there is some verbiage to read on each page, it can also be self-guided. Crew seems to like real-life photos of things he recognizes, as opposed to illustrations, so this book delivers. Each page includes textures like the bumpy tire or the rough ridgy grill. And of course, there is a button on each page with realistic sound bytes of the various vehicles’ noises, along with a re-cap at the end.

Alphabet Crew received this for his first birthday and it takes interactive to a new level! There are things to scratch, sniff, push, pull, and all while learning the ABCs (and tons of animals that Page and I had never heard of — so I guess we’re learning, too?!)

Goodnight Gorilla I have fond memories of reading this to the kids I used to nanny, so it was an immediate add to our baby registry. This story combines simple text with illustration-only pages that allow you to ad-lib what is happening as the pages turn. We read this any time of day, but it’s a particular hit at bedtime.

LittleBlueTruck

Little Blue Truck We were gifted this book at a shower, and thank goodness! I’ve since learned this title is basically an institution with little boys (and girls!). I like the underlying message of helping out friends, and there is lots of repetition around animal noises. We have since accumulated Little Blue Truck Leads the Way and Little Blue Truck’s Christmas (the lights at the end are a big hit!), with plans to pick up the newest release, Little Blue Truck’s Halloween. (PS, if you have a die-hard Blue Truck fan on your hands, you have to check out these pajamas – they are on Crew’s Christmas list!)

All Aboard New York We’ve had a couple of these books, but the New York is both my favorite and Crew’s. The colorful, bright illustrations are delightful and even at only a few months old, Crew would study them in detail. As the adult it’s fun to see the whimsical portrayals of famous landmarks in a favorite city.

Dear Zoo This sweet lift-a-flap book is small and easy to travel with, and great for learning animal sounds.

MaggiesBall

Maggie’s Ball I had never heard of this book until the librarian read it at Book Babies one morning. Obsessed with both balls and dogs at the time, Crew was instantly entranced. I bought a copy for our house, and got out a sleeve of tennis balls to play with while reading (Maggie’s ball is a tennis ball). This book continues to be a favorite nearly a year later.

Red Truck A perfect length book for this age group’s attention span. Red Truck comes to the (very dramatic!) rescue of a stuck school bus. Loved this for learning the color red (and yellow for the bus!). We point out red trucks all around town as a result of this title.

MachinesAtWork

Machines At Work This book was one of my brother’s favorites as a little boy, and my mom lent his copy to Crew. I love the simple three or four-word phrases on each spread, accompanied by colorful, bold illustrations. Great for learning action verbs like “dig”, “build”, and “knock down”!

Down By the Station We are on our second copy of this book, after the first one was gifted to us at a baby shower, and well-loved by a certain someone who’s still learning to not rip paper pages (I do wish this came in a board book!). Crew loves the different scenes (airport, train station, etc) and pointing out each page’s vehicles “all in a row”. (Bonus points if you SING the story!)

TheWatermelonSeed

The Watermelon Seed At a time when it is ALL about the truck books (I think we have nearly a dozen in rotation!) I was anxious for a book about ANYTHING else. It seemed appropriate for summer to add this read to our collection and it has not disappointed. Super bright colors, a dramatic crocodile, and a good dose of burping make this a much-requested read in our house.

Hi! A great title for short attention spans, this book is a fast page-turner, with simple one-word, rhyming, animal sounds on each page. The animals all look to the little boy at the end to hear what HE says, and it was these final two pages I credit heavily with teaching Crew “hi” and “bye”. He enjoyed this book early on before he could repeat back animal sounds, but now that he can, he seems to love it all over again.

What’s on your little one’s reading list???

Toddlers Reading List | lifeinyellow.com

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a baby’s / toddler’s Easter basket

Easter Basket for Baby | lifeinyellow.com

While his first Easter (at three months) was fun (the bunny brought him pacifiers and a bib we still use every day!), this year has been WAY more fun to plan for, as Crew is starting to really react to things and we know what types of things get him especially excited. What a difference a year makes…the contents of this year’s basket crunch, light up, makes sounds, and more. #bigboybasket

It seems the blogosphere has all kinds of ideas for Easter (and Valentines for that matter) that are aimed at girls…so I thought I’d share what I’m pulling together for my car-loving, ball-throwing, cause-and-effect obsessed 14-month-old boy.

Easter Basket for Baby | lifeinyellow.com

  • I ended up going with some other items instead, but I still love this little bunny nightlight. It would be so sweet to put in his room during the countdown to Easter each year!
  • The bunny theme continues with some new Kickee Pants jammies (similar) (the softest you will ever buy!). He’s wearing these already, and of course I’ll be snapping some Easter morning pics in them. This particular style came out last year, but they are still available on Amazon.
  • After reading a rave review by another blogger, I ordered Marco for the bath (get it? Marco Polo!). He bobs up and down in the water and his light turns colors when he’s above versus underwater. Crew LOVES things that light up, and at swim lessons, he is working on identifying what is above/below water and bobbing for toys, so this seemed appropriate. Plus I love, love, love anything Boon makes.
  • I have a book wish list a mile long for Crew, but have been saving this title for Easter. Every parent I’ve talked to has a rave review on this book! Some other titles that would be great for a basket include Pat the Bunny, The Runaway Bunny, or Easter Bugs.
  • Crew got the VTech garage for Christmas and a couple of the vehicles for his birthday. He plays with them every. single. day. so it was easy to justify another car for the collection.  (Page made fun of me that of all the choices, I got the van — womp womp, but truthfully, it was one of the cheapest, Crew doesn’t care, and Mama wanted those bunny jammies!)
  • I might put some jelly beans in an egg and see if he’ll taste them, otherwise his eggs will be filled with the pastel-colored goldfish, mini marshmallows, some white cheddar bunnies and vanilla and cocoa bunnies. I’m guessing even before they’re opened, he’ll love holding and shaking those eggs. They’re nearly balls, after all — one of his favorite things!
  • Last year, I ordered Crew’s basket from Pottery Barn Kids (pictured above). I love the quality of their baskets, and I’m a sucker for anything I can monogram!

It seems everywhere I turn, I see something else I can either justify adding to the basket, or I have to talk myself out of! Just this morning I was in Walgreens and spotted a squishy yellow “chick” shaped ball that lights up and was a fun/new texture to hold, as well as jars of bubbles shaped to look like the “Peeps” bunnies. Must. Stop. Shopping. His basket runneth over. 🙂

I ended up with a couple other add-ins not pictured including a mega-refill bottle of bubbles, a carrot-themed pouch of baby food (he still loves these, especially when a tooth is coming in!), a bouncy ball that lights up, and a little watering can, shovel, and spade from the dollar spot. Bring on the warm weather toys and spring. We can’t wait to get outside!

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