Category / For the Kiddos

Fangirl Favorites: September

  1. I have to begin with this ridiculously well priced set of chairs. You can buy them individually or in sets of two and four — I needed two for the current project of turning my “office” (previously the nursery) into more of a creative art room space. We’ve been sitting on them for weeks now and still love them!
  2. I was gifted this planner and would have never otherwise looked twice at it. I’ve never been a planner girl, but this is slowly changing my life (yes, dramatic). I am the classic “too many ideas, not enough time” and this planner has totally helped me break down big goals into actionable (realistic) chunks and I’m seeing so much progress two months in on so many of my big goals. There’s a monthly, weekly and daily component but there’s so much room for interpretation and to use it as it best works for you.
  3. We ALL love this lavender wash, but it’s particularly great for winding Crew down at bedtime. It’s very reasonably priced for a giant bottle and we’re maybe a third of the way through ours, which I bought at the beginning of the summer.
  4. It’s soup season and Page is the biggest fan. He ordered this thermos as a way to pack his Trader Joes tomato and roasted red pepper soup (have you tried it? SOOO good!) for the office.
  5. I should preface that I am NOT a cookbook purchaser. I rely heavily on my Pinterest boards and a handful of friends and family recipes that I keep in a binder. But Healthyish captivated from cover to cover and every single recipe I’ve tried out of here is so ridiculously good and full of flavor, without being overly complex. And while I can feel good about it being pretty good for me, the recipes aren’t SO stringent that it feels like “diet food”.
  6. I always notice that my skin acts up during the change of the seasons. I’ve been giving myself a little extra TLC with this hot cloth cleansing balm. I’m a HUGE fan of the one made by Beautycounter, but the price tag is just too hefty to justify on an ongoing basis. I’ve found this one to be very similar and paired with a set of muslin washcloths I can give myself a little facial while in the shower. (These two products together also make a great gift!)
  7. My mom finds the greatest stuff and this one nailed his obsession with food prep pretend play. Kiddos can “serve” different flavors of juice (his favorite part is using the menu to take our orders) into glasses and add ice cubes with this drink dispenser toy. Sounds so simple, but it’s provided HOURS of entertainment. In fact it’s been such a hit, I think we might add this set to expand his menu. And as always, we love Melissa & Doug toys for their long lasting durability – they’re the toys that get saved and packed away for my grandkids someday. 🙂

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  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 Ghost 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.

Thankful 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 Book 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

Fangirl Favorites: August

It’s no secret I spend too much time finding all the things that need to come exist in my house. But I so appreciate reading from other blogs about finds that they’ve tried and LOVED — it takes the guesswork and review reading out of the purchase process for me!

I’m inspired to start sharing things we’re loving (and expand beyond just Crew stuff!) on a regular basis. Only stuff I’m a total fangirl of makes the cut!

Without further adieu…

  1. I’ve started more than one conversation with friends lately like this…”Did I already tell you about my air fryer obsession? I did?” because we’re that into it. I’m not a “more is more” in the kitchen — I hate multiple little appliances specific to tasks, all of which require cleaning, organizing, and storage space. But this one is worth all of the above. Originally to simply heat up (quickly! no preheating required) “kid food” like chicken nuggets and fish sticks (without the mushiness that comes with the microwave), I quickly made the leap into using it for myself to health-ify some favorites like french fries (it captures extra grease in the pan at the bottom – calories saved!). You can be as healthy (hello sweet potato fries and kale chips!) or as unhealthy (ummm the most EPIC donuts made from biscuit dough) as you like. 😉 But either way, this little gadget is changing the way we eat.
  2. YOU. GUYS. I was recently gifted a pair of these faux leather magical butter-pants, aka Spanx leggings. Until now I had only purchased undergarments from this brand, known for sucking it in and smoothing it out in all the right places. Be prepared for heavy rotation of these in my feed!
  3. Page and I both ordered a pair of Goodr running sunglasses after they were recommended by friends. I had never heard of them and expected them to be much more than their $25 price point. Amazing for going to the pool and working out – they really DON’T slip, and without the normal “pinch your nose to stay in place” technique of the others I’ve tried in the past. Plus, you have to love the hilarious names of each style.
  4. I jumped on the natural deodorant bandwagon earlier this year and never looked back. While I still love the scent of the Ursa Major I wrote about here, as summer has heated up, I feel like it’s starting to fall short on the sweatiest of days. Enter my brilliant blogger friend Ivy of Wake Up for Makeup. (Seriously, whatever she talks about, I just go buy without hesitation. She’s a genius about anything beauty/body products.) I immediately noticed better and longer-lasting coverage with this Smarty Pits brand (and love the subtle eucalyptus/mint scent!).
  5. Usborne magic painting books are the easiest, cleanest, way to get your kids into art. Crew loves to use a paintbrush more than any other art medium, but if I’m only half paying attention, I can’t risk leaving him with open jars of tempera everywhere. He LOVES this book (other themes available) and it’s also so easy to throw in my bag for a restaurant — all you need is a glass of water from the server.
  6. I feel like it’s so hard to find bath toys for kids beyond the age of about 18 months. Crew can keep himself busy in the tub until the water turns cold if he has some good entertainment. He is ALL about food service lately (see more evidence below!) so I had to give this bubble ice cream machine a go. Worth every penny, all you need to supply is some bubble bath.
  7. Continuing the theme, despite only visiting a couple ever, Crew became ALL about the food truck, I think because it combines his love of all things on wheels, and the ability to cook up orders for people. He still plays with his little kitchen on a regular basis, but this food truck tent has been such a fun new spin and a new way to use all the play food we’ve accumulated. He literally plays with it at some point every day and he’s learning to assign prices to things. I must say, I’ve never had a better make believe $100 slice of pizza.
  8. Last Crew toy/food reference ha! My parents gave him this ice cream set to go WITH the food truck, of course. Melissa and Doug can do no wrong anyway, but this set of play food is particularly fun because of magnets inside to help grip/release the scoops and build double decker cones. I know some kids can totally take or leave the whole play food thing, but for our guy, this set is worth its weight in gold.
  9. You have to swoon a little when your hubby gets a random Amazon gift card…and promptly spends it on an item from your wish list. <3 36 Hours showed up to my surprise and I’m obsessed. I do still love a physical book when I know I will reference it again and again, and this one is so pretty sitting out on a table. Organized by region of the country, it documents how to spend 36 hours in all the best spots across the USA and Canada. Road trip planning is in full swing!
  10. Perhaps saving the very best for last…also known as Page’s fathers day gift that has become just as much mine as his ha! This cold brew coffee maker has taken up permanent residence in our fridge and until the snow flies, it’s not going anywhere. Our coffee pro friend was the first to inform us that iced coffee is NOT the same as cold brew, and that the latter is the ONLY way to go. You can absolutely taste the difference, and we’ve since learned that cold brew is much less acidic than regular hot brewed coffee, so an extra win. Keep in mind it’s extra concentrated — I usually do a third of a glass with brew, a third milk, a third water, and add ice. Sip and enjoy the ecstasy.

There you have it, the top ten things that are changing our lives around here! 🙂 Have something you can’t live without?! Shoot me a link – I’m ALWAYS all ears to hear what others are all about!

The Best Lunch-Packing Products

As a follow-up to my favorite toddler/preschooler-sized backpacks, I’m turning my attention to all things lunch-related as we enter the first week of the school year. We don’t often have to provide a lunch yet, but as we approach kindergarten (say whaaa?!) I’m paying attention to my oh-so-smart mama friends who have all the best recommendations. I do pack my own lunch for work frequently, and have used a similar style lunch box and the silicone cups to keep things separate. And some of these things make lunches at home with littles that much more fun to prepare.

  1. We love this set of cutters — that includes sandwich cutters (who wants crust, anyway?!) little ones that are fun for fruit and cheese slices.
  2. Genius move by parents everywhere to use these little silicone cups to keep foods separate within lunches. (I personally like them to hold almonds and other stuff I want to stay “crunchy” on top of my salads until I’m ready to eat.)
  3. I love the idea of Bento boxes for kids because they hate when stuff “touches” — I like the price point of this box, and as my neighbor so smartly pointed out — you can afford to purchase a week’s worth, pack and stack them all in one night in the fridge, and have ZERO to do all week long.
  4. We’ve been using this stainless water bottle since shortly after Crew was off bottles. They are indestructible and great at keeping cold drinks cold (perfect for all-day summer outings). I’m picky about water bottles because they MUST be easy to clean — this one is my winner.
  5. I love the idea of these pre-printed lunchbox notes! They don’t make much sense until your kiddos are at a reading age, but I love the idea that they don’t require as much time to prepare, but still offer a touchpoint of “I’m thinking about you!” during their school day.

And if you’re looking for some lunch-packing inspiration, here are a couple of my favorite sources:

  • Lunchbox brand, Lunchbots, has a great Instagram feed full of ideas
  • My friend, Lisa, shares her healthy and creative ideas over at Love You Lunches

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! 😉

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The Book List at Three (and a HALF!)

If you’ve spent a minute on this blog, you know we are total suckers for children’s books around here. I always manage to find room in the budget for the bookstore, we go to the library on the regular for even more, and I’m always on the hunt for new recommendations from others as well. I blogged our most recent list here for age 3 here (and our 12-24 month list here) and only six months later, the interests continue to evolve and we discover even more awesome titles. Nothing is set in stone yet…but I think we might have a Halloween costume this year based on a favorite book. 🙂 Below is a rundown of a few of the current favorites:

Square and Triangle (of the Shape trilogy) — I love the monochromatic illustrations in these books and the simple stories between the character shapes, that are laced with a little humor. After Triangle was a hit, I quickly reserved a copy of Square when it was released…and Circle is due out next spring.

I’m a big fan of Jon Klassen’s books, and similar to the shape series, there is some comedy woven into I Want My Hat Back, a simple tale of a a bear who’s lost his hat.

I wasn’t sure how Be Kind would go over (would there be enough “action” to the story to keep him interested?), but Crew was captivated by all the practices of kindness, and has been asking ever since on the daily, “that was kind, right Mom?”

I had added Stuck to our Amazon wish list, and happened upon it at the library shortly after. Let’s just say after out-loud giggles, this one will likely become a permanent fixture in our house. A funny story of a boy who gets his balloon stuck in a tree and throws item after item into the tree to knock it down, and by the end is throwing larger than life objects.

Another Oliver Jeffers book, we love the illustrations in Here We Are, a quick run-down of what it is to live here on Earth. The page with alllll the things living in the sea is particularly captivating and always generates a lot of questions. 🙂

We received Shh! We Have A Plan as a board book when Crew was born, and I loved the illustrations (do you sense a theme here?) from the get-go. But recently, it has received all new life now that Crew really likes the STORY behind the pictures. (Crew lives out this story in our yard now with the birds — hilarious!) (We’ve loved every title by this author, and I think we need to own Little Owl Lost, next!)

The Book with No Pictures is in heavy rotation lately. Funny and silly, I love that it encourages more listening to the words and less relying on images to follow along. Be prepared to sound ridiculous when reading this one. 😉

All of the above can be found on Amazon but I currently have a big Usborne order en route as I type this — we’ve never been disappointed by any of our reads from there and I’m anxious to check out the newest releases and share favorites from there, soon!

What are your kiddos’ current favorite reads??

Favorite Things: Age 3

Whenever I’m shopping for kids of other ages or genders, I’m always hunting for a gift guide to get me thinking. Even as Crew gets older, I’m checking out gift guides for the age group just above his, to help keep the ideas fresh. Crew has been LOVING the same few items lately, so I thought it made sense to do a round-up as we approach the half mark (what?!) of age three:

  • This set of upper and lower case letter puzzles has gotten SO. MUCH. USE. It’s without a doubt the number one thing Crew has been playing with as of late. He gets such a thrill out of being quizzed (and quizzing us) and matching up the “big and littles” of each letter. He also has made a game out of one of us racing him to see who can put the letters in their puzzle, first. The listing we bought is now unavailable, but the dimensions, price point, even the font style on this set are identical.
  • All the grabbers. Claws. Robot arms. Whatever you want to call them, I can’t really articulate what it is about these, but each one is more exciting than the next. Crew loves the coordination exercise of trying to pick up toys with them (bonus motivation to clean up!) and the ones that have animal heads like this dinosaur that can “chomp” are extra cool.
  • The Cook In A Book series is one I’ve blogged before (we have all three titles!), but they continue to be SUCH a hit.
  • I bought a couple of these Tiny Tonkas for a trip last year as something small to carry-on and knew the garage door “things inside other things” would be a big hit. Turns out we’ve been collecting them every since. They’ve become a (well played with!) collection and the garages all hook together to form a super garage for all the vehicles — which coincidentally are also the perfect size for running through the many garbage trucks he plays with.
  • Memory is a favorite game. It began with a set he picked out in the dollar section, and then after so. many. rounds. I’ve added a couple different sets to our stash, just to switch it up. Most recently, we acquired this magnetic set for some upcoming travels, but it’s also come in handy at restaurants.
  • Boys just need to MOVE. This scooter came from the Easter Bunny and it’s been a great energy burner and challenge in balancing, coordination, and learning how to brake. It’s a great “first” scooter because of the sturdy two-front-wheels design. He can focus on just figuring it out without fear of falling over.
  • Anything that shoots darts, squirts water (great for the bath!), or launches little foam rockets — all a gold star in this guy’s book. Between the thrill of cause and effect, and mastering aim at a target (often, our ceiling fans!) these have all been favorites. (Tip: If you go the stomp rocket route, go with the “Jr.” model for this age group, so they can actually have enough force to make it work!)
  • Not a “toy” but might as well be — this pancake pen was part of his Valentine loot, and it combines a couple of loves — making letters/spelling his name, and making pancakes. (PS — I love to gift the pancake pen with the above-mentioned Pancakes book, together!)

Anything to add? I’m always on the hunt for a new favorite!

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