Crew is Five.

In many ways, this fifth year has been your biggest and most formative year yet. You began as a full-blown preschooler, and now at 5, I see glimpses daily of the boy who will climb the bus to elementary school in mere months.

You continue to have an all-in attitude for any fun activity or family outing. I want to remember forever how you refer to us as “guys” as if we’re simply three roommates, and not necessarily a child and his parents.

You continue to do well in school and are becoming more and more interested in reading, while already able to sound out some simple words all on your own. If the book topic is anything military or police, you are PARTICULARLY interested.

I’ve seen you grow by leaps and bounds this year in patience and tenacity. You have my (sorry) desire to be an instant expert or you’re not interested, but I’ve seen you stretch this as you’ve gone from wanting Dad to build all the LEGO sets to barely letting us watch and you follow each step meticulously and see the project through to the end with little or no help.

You think any and everything Dad does is the coolest, the latest of which is introduce you to video games. Again, it’s an exercise in learning and perfecting as you go — you have to fail a bit to get better, and more often than I’ve seen you storm out of the room to take a break from it all, I see you come back to it with renewed determination and frown at the level until you’ve finally mastered it.

You’ve explored a lot of new activities per your request this year. You stopped soccer at school which you’d be doing for a while, in favor of a round of swim lessons this summer, followed by tennis lessons, and eventually karate. Aside from the last activity with your friend, Owen, you didn’t know kids at these activities and I’m happy that it doesn’t make you nervous to walk in on your own and try something new. You DO articulate to me sometimes that you “can’t find a friend” or “you’re a little nervous” so I know it’s on your mind from time to time, but I’m so proud of how you overcome your hesitation and dive right in.

Despite telling me you are going to stay a kid forever, you have lots of questions about being a kindergartner, and eventually an adult in general, and your preference is to hang with the bigger kids, but I think that’s true of most kids!) You LOVED Vacation Bible School this summer, not so much for the activities or the change in routine, but because the helpers for your group were a bunch of 10-12 year old boys who you were certain were your new besties. You ask me a lot “what can six year olds do? what can ten year olds do?” always curious to know what’s next for you — please slow down growing so my mama heart can keep up!

Of course the big news of this past year has been that you will become a big brother. You’ve rolled with this remarkably considering we weren’t sure ourselves if we’d have another and certainly never gave you any indications that it was a real possibility.

Four and a half into five is such a mature age to get this news as opposed to being even a year or so younger. You’ve had questions (very specific, detailed ones at times that I’ve tried to answer as best I can!) and then there are days that go by and no mention of baby sister comes up. It’s more frequently discussed now that I’m showing, you can feel her kick, and signs of her are everywhere — most recently the nursery in progress and the car seat installed (per your request!). I try not to overwhelm you with information or hit the topic too often, but I’m also trying to slowly prep you for some inevitable changes, like the fact that baby won’t IMMEDIATELY sleep upstairs on the “kids floor” that you’re so excited about, with the promise that you and Dad will have a couple basement sleepovers as a compromise. You were delighted by the newborns we saw at a recent big brother class, and you know how to be careful with a baby, but it WILL be interesting to see how much you try to be the expert toward US – (look out baby girl, you’re about to be parented by THREE firstborns, lord help you!)

As for celebrating your birthday, we gave you the option of a party or an overnight trip to the Lego store. We were thrilled you chose the latter as it gave us a chance to get out of town for a night as a last family of three adventure.

You loved the hotel and hot tubbing, and of course we hit the Mall of America for some arcade games, rides, and a trip to Mecca.

Happy birthday to our forever first and the one who made me a mom. I can’t wait to see what this next year holds for you and the amazing ways in which you’re about to grow.

Hello 2020.

I went back and forth about whether or not to continue blogging in the new year…while I have always done it first and foremost for my own record keeping, there’s always a pressure to “keep it up”. TBD on that decision, but in the meantime, a little life update:

While I’m no longer at my day job (big life change #1), my side hustle kept me quite busy all through the fall and into December. The change in seasons also brought a big career move for Page (big life change #2). Now that the holidays are behind us and the winter lull is starting to set in…it’s only a couple short months until life’s pace picks up yet again…this time, with the arrival of a fourth family member (do you see a pattern here??).

photo credit: April + August Photography

April will bring a baby sister to round out our clan, followed soon after by another milestone change when Crew climbs on a big yellow bus and starts kindergarten (what?!) this fall. It’s an exciting time in our family life that seems to be both much of the same day to day, but also busily speeds forward the moment we blink.

So please excuse the infrequency of the posts here while I figure out if blogging makes the priority list this year. I’ll leave you with a couple more shots of the (very much in progress!) room updates for our little lady. Happy new year, friends!

Summer Reading List for Preschoolers

We wrapped up Crew’s time in the 3-4 preschool room with conferences last night, and one of my favorite bits of feedback to hear was how MUCH this kid loves books. As we make the move up to Pre-K (as in pre-kindergarten, yes, I’m in major denial!) I’ve rounded up some favorite current titles and some that are on the to-read list for the coming summer months!

Jabari Jumps has been on our bookshelf for a while, but it has surfaced again now that swimming season is here, with all its moments of bravery.

Brick was recommended by a fellow blogger, and I love the introductory level to different types of architecture, and the idea that “home” looks different around the world.

Crew is trying so hard to grasp telling time right now, so after flipping through What’s the Time, Clockodile? recently at our local toystore, I’m definitely heading back to pick it up. The clock hands actually move and the book itself is large and well-constructed.

We all love this new addition, Iggy Peck, Architect. The rhyming text is fun and witty, and relays a positive message about following your interests. The companion activity book would be so fun in another year or so!

I’ve seen this title floating around Instagram on some of my favorite book accounts, and I love that A Boy Like You appears to be breaking down the stereotypical “tough guy” approach to what it means to be a boy. Perfectly timed for this phase when Crew is truly developing from a toddler/preschooler to full-blown kiddo.

We are ALL about the Pigeon books (Mo Willems is the best!) so the minute I heard about the latest title, The Pigeon HAS to Go to School, I pre-ordered it pronto. (Releases July 2nd!)

After purchasing The Night Before Christmas by the same author/artist, I had to have America the Beautiful in time for the 4th of July last year. These are, hands down, THE most beautiful pop-up books you will ever see. And a great introduction to the lyrics of the classic patriotic tune.

I’ve been longing to start teaching Crew how to follow a recipe, beyond our simple chopping tasks and our go-to chocolate chip cookies. I love that cooking introduces him to math basics and logic and sequence — but it’s been hard to find a cookbook with recipes that fit the fine motor skills of someone under the age of eight. Enter Kid Chef Junior (their other Kid Chef titles for older kids look awesome, too!) Bring on the summer cooking projects!

And finally, our first read-aloud chapter book! Starting with the ultimate classic, Charlotte’s Web. Everyone says that 4-5 is the sweet spot to begin reading simple chapter books aloud. I’m anxious to see what he thinks of the story!

Want more Crew-approved book lists? Check out our list for Age Three and a Half, our list for Age Three, and our list for Toddlers (12-24 months).


Patriotic Poundcake (Kid Chef Friendly!)

I’m no cook, but I do love a pretty dish – especially when it’s dessert. Whether it’s Memorial Day, the 4th of July, or just any old summer day, you must try this simple treat. I love it as a way to include kiddos in the kitchen — they can wash and chop fruit, scoop Cool Whip, and of course cut stars out of the poundcake!

You don’t even need directions or an ingredients list — just slice up a frozen Sara Lee poundcake (and cut into stars!), add sliced red and blue berries (I used strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries), and add a tub of Cool Whip. Light and refreshing and oh-so-patriotic-summer!

Our Finished Basement

When we built our home four years ago, we had an idea of what we wanted to do with our basement level, but we weren’t in a huge hurry with so many above-ground decisions to make in the meantime. Page drew out a rough idea and our builder framed it for us, and stocked it with drywall. And that was how it sat for a year or so. Slowly, we’ve been moving it forward over the last couple of years.

We’ve been using this lower level so much now that it’s complete, starting with our living room. The leather couches moved down here (finally!) and they are perfect for family movie nights. I love that we kept it light and neutral down here (paint is Sherwin Williams “City Loft”, trim is SW “Extra White”) since our only natural light comes down the stairwell from a window, and from the two egress panes on one end of the house.

The play area is as getting as much use as ever (and the Ikea Algot toy closet has paid for itself in spades!). You can see more of the toy closet and the inside of the playhouse here.

Crew’s under-the-stairs playhouse is one of my favorite projects to date!

We tried to maximize the daylight by going with glass doors to the gym. Page picked this wall color (SW Oceanside) and I admit I was skeptical at first, but I love the change of energy and mood when you walk in here (which I need to do more often than I am right now. Ha!)

This black metal plaque from Magnolia is my favorite detail in here.

Here’s a quick peek at the guest bedroom and bathroom that I wrote more about in previous posts.

The last pieces of the puzzle were the bar and golf simulator. We bought stock cabinets which I painted (SW “Cascade”) and we built the counter from butcher block stained Carbon Gray by Varathane. We debated adding a dishwasher down here but after so much up-and-down in our last basement bar with dirty glasses and snack bowls, we opted to include one this time around. We did vinyl flooring because of the nature of basements -it’s from Home Depot and the color is Weathered Wood.

Page used remnant pieces from the counters to create floating shelves and found the hardware on eBay. The faucet and cabinet hardware all came from Amazon.

The golf simulator is by SkyTrak and Page installed it himself. We had to walk on many, many 1-foot squares of turf before he found “The One” šŸ™‚

I love how all the textures and tones came together in this area. The stone isn’t the exact material we have upstairs, but it’s so darn close and carries the vibe from upstairs down to this lower level.

And I’d be remiss in not pointing out the barn door we had built as a solution to the noise of both the simulator and if we want to watch a movie down here after Crew goes to bed. It’s hard to convey in photos but this thing is massive. You have to love a talented trim carpeter – this is perfectly cut at the bottom to hug up and around the skirt trim that comes down our stairs for a sealed closure.

Another favorite little detail is the angled corner step down into the simulator. I will never forget showing up late ONE TIME to our builder meeting and noticing they had marked a sunken foundation. I knew exactly what had been decided without me – ha!

Thanks for following along. I’m so happy to have this big project checked off our list, and we’re finding so much validation in how frequently we are using the space!

Living Room Tour

In case you missed it, Life in Yellow is now 29th and Delight and I’m jumping right back in with a tour of our updated main living area! After finishing our lower level, we moved the existing furniture downstairs to make way for some furniture we scored on Black Friday. I love the way this space has come together over the last year and we’ve spent a lot of family time in here playing games on the coffee table and snuggling on the sofa.


Rug | Sectional | Armchair | White Pillows | Pink Tassel Pillows | Throw | Coffee Table | C End Table | Bar Stools

Thanks for taking a peek – I’m excited to share more of what we’ve been up to around here the past few months!

Crew is Four.

All traces of toddlerhood are long gone — full on kid mode and it’s all about blasters, all day every day. You will ditch us in a heartbeat for your friends, which means any kid in the neighborhood.

We kept your birthday low-key this year, having a couple friends over for pizza and cake, then heading to the nearby bowling alley.

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You are daily out on the trampoline or swingset with all of them. You get intensely embarassed if we dare to correct or discipline you in front of anyone else and we frequently refer to you as “emo” right now. You’re not napping very well at school which makes for draining evenings but on days you’re home, you can still easily clock 1.5 to 2 hours and go to bed as usual.

We finally kicked a habit that went on for a few months where you’d come into our bed if you stirred at any point in the night — often around 1am or so. You’re not bad to bunk with (you hardly move) but as you hit four, it made sense to try and get you staying in your own bed again. With the promise of a bike you filled in a chart of seven nights of staying in your bed, and with the help of a no-wake nightlight you now happily stay upstairs until at least 6:45 when it lights up. Life changed for all of us!

You’ll easily sit through a full movie now and are into Jurassic Park and Star Wars with Dad. You’re much more into drawing lately and will get out markers on your own without me even around and I’ll find you drawing for tens of minutes on end. You have rediscovered mazes and are devouring workbooks of them. You can write your name and several other letters without example, and most numbers. With a little prompting, you can spell mom and dad and write both out. You are desperate to read, but also get frustrated quickly if it’s not perfect. You aren’t overly into the “intro to reading” series books, but would prefer to read “real” books. I do love that you still love to be read to, and frequently you’ll ask to read aside from our routine of reading at nap or bedtime.

You are SO excited about Easter and more than the basket, the hunt for the eggs. I don’t know if you even really care what’s inside, you just want to find them. So of course, I went overboard on that part and there are three dozen plus a gold one to find ha! But I figure that way at least the fun will last a few minutes. šŸ™‚

Crew Age 3: Q4

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

The consistency in writing your name on one line (not in a loop) continues to improve (you signed all your own thank you notes for Christmas and your birthday!). You can count to 39 but need to be reminded of “Forty…Forty-one…” to keep going. You are quickly grasping the concept of sounding out letters you recognize and with (a lot of) help, are reading a few simple sight words.

Your drawing has evolved in a huge way — you actually dissect what you’re trying to draw and recreate it in your own way (a circle and eight lines to be a spider and eight legs, instead of not so long ago, a circle scribble several times over and done). People have eyes and arms and legs in your drawings. I find it so interesting to watch this particular area of development, because it’s such a big glimpse into how you think. You drew a “favorite food” the other day and started with toppings for a pizza, then drew the triangle slice AROUND the toppings, instead of what I would have done — draw a triangle first then fill it in with details. Your different perspective is so fun to see.

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

The holidays were especially magical this year as you FULLY grasped the concept of Santa (you had MANY questions for him when you met him) and yet were very engaged and excited about shopping, wrapping, and giving on behalf of everyone else, taking particular care this year not to spoil surprises.

You’re still pretty easy to please in terms of gifts and bang for our buck — when people ask what you got from Santa you most often reference the “giant lolly” of all things (a five dollar piece of plastic filled with ten Dum Dums inside). Sugar and candy rank high for you in general right now (but consequently, you’re trying MANY more foods now with the promise of a treat if you do so).

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

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