Archive | FAMILY

BLUEBERRY PICKING AT THE RUSTY PLOW

We may be going back to school shopping today and tomorrow, but there are still 3 weeks left of summer so we’re also still checking things off that sweet summer bucket list. Feels a bit like a conflict of interest but I’m just not ready to start switching gears yet. Why does summer have to go so fast!?

These pics are from a few weeks ago when we went blueberry picking at a place called the Rusty Plow in Enumclaw, WA. The kids ate as much as they picked and the blueberries were so, so good. There’s something extra sweet and delicious about eating food right off the branch while watching the kids run around a farm. Makes me wish I was good at (slash enjoyed) gardening. Maybe one day!? For now we’ll just enjoy visiting and eating produce from someone else’s garden!

Kinda want to get one of those dancing tube guys to set outside the house before the kids get home from school so they know just how excited I am to see them, ha! He’s also very good at photo bombing… do you see him a few pics up and the one right above?

Definitely something that happens often in our kitchen around snack time or happy hour is throwing food up to catch in our mouths. Usually we’re trying to throw it into the other person’s mouth and it’s always fun and good for a few laughs. Playing in the middle of blueberry bushes was also fun but the clean up was way easier :)

Griffey (below), pre-haircut. Love it trimmed but also love my boys a little shaggy. There’s something carefree and playful about it — two things that I’ve always wanted for their childhood years… that is obviously not dependent on their hairstyle, (LOL) just symbolic to me when I see it. They’ll have their entire adulthood to be clean cut!

A little tangent, if you’ll humor me — Someone (an adult) came up to me the other day while I was holding a very tired and worn out version of Griffin and proceeded to give him a hard time and tease him about “needing his mommy”.  I honestly wanted to smack this particular person. Instead I decided to walk away but then spent the entire next couple of days rethinking the situation, how I would respond next time this happened, why my mothering choice seemed to bother them so much and how people like that just remind me of how important our words are. I bring this story up because had the same person made the same comment to me as a less seasoned mom, say with Ozzie, Espen or even Tilly, I would have really taken it to heart and worked overtime to gain their approval of my parenting choices. Motherhood can be such a vulnerable thing, especially outside of your home — certain people will have critical opinions and will be impossible to please. So don’t let them make you second guess how you love, care for, or discipline your kids. Sure it’s important to seek out wisdom and always be growing as a human let alone a parent, but people like that aren’t mentors. They are haters and haters gonna hate.

So, play on player and do you boo, boo! HA! Whatever reminds you that you’re doing good and on the right track!!! Okay!!!?

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming ;)

Johan had started a conversation with the farm owners about the process of planting, growing and pruning the bushes and the number of people that pick blueberries each week so we had some free time to plat tag and do superman’s….

Sometimes the sweetest part of an outing happens on the way home – when everyones bonded a little and things are winding down. I love these kids… and the two guys that aren’t pictured, so much.

Also definitely think we found a new favorite place to pick blueberries, enough to make it a full family tradition every summer.

Did you adopt any new traditions this summer? Or maybe my story about the grownup that teases my kids resonates with you? Either way, let me know in the comments!

XO, Rae

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HOW TO LIKE CAMPING, FROM A NON-CAMPER

Did you notice the “LIKE” in the title of this post? “LOVE” would for sure be too strong of a word. Also noted in the title, I’m not a camper. However my family loves it and if I am anything to our family, it’s a team player. Every summer I get a chance to prove it when we get packed up to  go camping on our friend’s amazing beach property on Whidbey Island (don’t you feel sorry for me, LOL?) along with 6 other families. It’s the highlight of the  summer and something the kids look forward to all year long. So many memories are made, good food gets eaten and fun is had during our stay.

Problem is, packing up 7 people for 2 or 3 nights along with tents, coolers, kitchen tools, sleeping mats, sleeping bags, pillows, camp chairs, blankets, food, drinks, flashlights, recreational activities, lifejackets, toiletries, towels, layers of clothing, etc. without overpacking (because it all has to fit somewhere), is sooooo stressful. Then there’s the setting up camp and figuring out where to put all the things you brought. Followed by hangout time which is amazing until it’s time for bed which is my least favorite because we’re out of our normal routine, trying to get everyone to go to sleep while laying under a layer of nylon and then my anxiety kicks in because we’re all spread out (in different tents) and you can’t lock a tent to keep everyone safe and I’m thinking about trees falling (among other things) and whether or not everyone is warm enough (also among other things) so I don’t get much sleep. After that, things are pretty wonderful (aside from the non-sleeping part… and bugs. Ha!). Until it’s time to pack up and pile all the tired, dirty and stinky people into the car :) And don’t get me started on the unpacking process… I’m still trying to catch up on all the laundry. So yeah, the work to fun ration (imo) is about 5 to 1.

But all the in-between time, play time and quality time are sooooo worth it. These are the days and they are so fleeting and camping is a great way to spend time with your babes making memories that are different than staying at a hotel or rental home somewhere. Which is why I wanted to write this post! So if you feel the same as me about camping here are a few things I’ve learned over the years.

5 WAYS TO TO MAKE CAMPING MORE ENJOYABLE:

  1. GET INSPIRED BY OTHERS — Talk to friends that camp often, look up blog posts, watch movies, hop on pinterest, ask the kids what they’re excited for, etc. And maybe even plan a camp trip with friends which also lightens the load… When we camp with our group, we plan and share meals for breakfast and dinner which makes it easier to feed the fam, but it’s also fun seeing and tasting what everyone brings!
  2. GEAR MATTERS — Just like skiing, gear matters. Especially when it comes to a tent, sleeping bags and mats/cushion/air mattress imo. Whatever you can do to make it easier to sleep well at night, the more you’ll enjoy the days. Since we’re not really a camping family we’ve always just gotten by with random hand me downs and a good tent or two. This year we rented a small teardrop trailer through rvshare.com. Having a comfy bed and fan was life changing — at least for Griffin, Poppy and me, LOL. Poor Johan spent most of the nights in a tent with the older kids. Next time I think we’ll for sure spring for a bigger trailer or camper!
  3. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION — it’s fun/nice/convenient to be close enough to a town and grocery store for a little ice cream outing or to replace the toothbrushes you forgot to pack. Oh, and a laundry mat might come in handy too. Comes in handy if it rains which we were lucky enough to not experience this trip but that’s not always the case!
  4. KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GETTING YOURSELF INTO — Because there will be sand and dirt and bugs and missed naps and early mornings and _________(fill-in-the-blank)… so know what to expect and just be okay with it.
  5. KNOW YOUR WHY — It’s a lot of work and I will never be cool about bugs in my tent but I can for sure enjoy it for a few nights because I know WHY we’re doing it! The time with our family and friends, and all the adventuring is priceless.

I know I’m being a little dramatic about what I don’t like about camping, and if you haven’t already assumed it, I’m not the most outdoorsy person in the world (HA!), but I did grow up hiking, fishing and staying at our family cabin. Always thought I would be cool with camping but turns out I’m a little on the high maintenance side (gimme all the cabins and trailers!)…. Sorry hun.

What about you? Did you grow up camping? Do you enjoy it now?

XO, Rae

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5 TIPS FOR PLANNING FUN FAMILY ACTIVITIES

I’ve had several conversations with other mamas lately about planning activities to do with the kids and as a family and thought it might be fun and helpful to chat about it in a post. We’ve found a system that works for us (when we do it!) for getting things on the calendar and also making sure there are plenty of days at home because we all need some downtime too. I’ll share my 5 best tips below and would love to know what works for you  and your family too!

5 TIPS FOR PLANNING KID-FRIENDLY OUTINGS |

  1. MAKE A BUCKET LIST – They can seem kind of intimidating (or maybe obnoxious?), but really I find they simplify things for me because A. I don’t have to guess or assume what EVERYONE wants to do and B. it get’s the brainstorming part of planning out of the way all at once — because I can brainstorm all day everyday and would never get anything done beyond that point, LOL!
  2. FIND THE FUN – My favorite ways to find fun events or places to visit is through sites like red tricycle and google searches. Community web sites are especially handy if we have an idea of where we want to go (let’s say Kirkland), then it’s easy to go to the City of Kirkland website and see what’s available on any given day… like free concerts in the park, yay! I also made a “PLACES + OUTINGS” collection on Instagram (using the little flag option below pics) so when I find something that inspires an activity or location close to us, I can save it. Last but not least, it’s always a good idea to ask friends and neighbors for ideas too!
  3. PUT IT ON THE CALENDAR – Things rarely happen if they aren’t added to the google calendar :) We try to schedule a month out but then go over the calendar each week too… things change so much (big family and kids!) that we’re usually rearranging things or swapping activities, but it usually works out. .
  4. THINK AHEAD + PACK SNACKS! – Any prep-work I can do well before it’s time to go is a bonus and makes leaving the house less stressful, because you know there will already be potty breaks, missing shoes (or kids), and children taking their sweet time to get out the door already, LOL. Lately I’ve been leaving a basket by the garage door where I throw in all the essentials — sunscreen, hair ties, picnic blankets, etc. and either throw what we need into a bag or just grab the entire bucket. I will also try and throw everyone’s scooters in the back of my car if I think they’ll come in handy!
  5. KEEP A RUNNING LIST OF “FAN FAVORITES” – Visiting new places is fun and exciting, but during busier weeks, or longer days when you just need to break things up a bit without adding to your stress levels, it’s nice to have a list of favorite activities or places where you know there’s something fun for the kids (hello playground or splash pad), access to bathrooms, and inexpensive food choices too. Can’t lose with that combo!

A few pics from our morning at a kid’s concert to see the Recess Monkeys and a quick snack afterwards in Kirkland…

Tilly and Claira… It’s always fun when friends can join us!

Such a good sport about going to the little kid stuff.

THIS IS MY JOB… To lay in the grass and play tickle monster and listen to silly music and just show them that they are loved and amazing and worth my time and attention (someone pinch me). It’s so easy to forget this when we’re at home and there is a pile (times 10) of laundry, meals to make, e-mails to reply to and the list goes on, which is why I try (<— keyword) to be intentional with our time and planning outings or special activities at home. It doesn’t always work out or even go as planned but it is always worth it. And BONUS, sometimes things go better than we planned!

Do I look like a groupie? ha! I love the Recess Monkeys… their songs are so silly and clever. Checkout their youtube channel to see what I’m talking about.

…Even Griff has to drag me away from the stage.

After the concert and a little bit of playtime at the park, the three bigger kids went over to a friend’s house, while Johan and I took Poppy on a little date to wow wow in Kirkland. Their lemonade is delicious and I’m obsessed with the oatmeal bowls!

Sometimes we call her “pop-tart” and other times just “tart”. Ha! This would be one of those times. She’s usually quick to get out of any funk but I think having all the kids home all the time this summer has really worn her out and trying to keep the house quiet enough for her to nap is impossible most days. A couple weeks ago I started intentionally planing things that involve longer car rides because it always puts her to sleep. The other day she was holding a full conversation with us in the car and after 10 seconds of silence I look back and she is sound asleep. Literally parties ’til she drops.

Eating with a 3 year old, LOL. Also why I love eating outside… can’t get away with this kinda stuff indoors!

How do you guys feel about making Bucket Lists?

Also, don’t forget to share your tips for planning family friendly activities in the comments!

XO, Rae

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DO WHAT SCARES YOU… (+ OTHER THINGS I’VE LEARNED FROM WATCHING MY KIDS AT SWIM LESSONS)

I learn so much from my kids.

Sometimes they do or say something that touches my heart and reminds me of things I already know and other times they blow my mind in a way that changes my heart and how I see things. Which is what recently happened as I watched Griffin, who is not a fan of water (understatement of the year), go through swim lessons for two weeks earlier this summer. By the end of it, he had learned to swim and I had learned what it means and looks like to do something that scares you.

It might seem a little dramatic or even like I’m reaching so bear with me… Usually when I think, read or see the phrase “DO WHAT SCARES YOU!” I feel encouraged and empowered to take on the world and make some big courageous change. But as I watched that brown eyed boy above do something that scared him (be in the water!) the process looked very different. It didn’t look like a little boy doing a cannon ball into the deep end to overcome his fear. There was no grand act of courage or big splash… instead, there was a decision. A decision to sit on the stairs in the pool (fighting back tears) when he really wanted to sit with his parents. That lead to the decision to put his face in the pool over and over again even though he would get water up his nose and in his mouth. Which lead to the decision to trust his teacher’s lead and urging to do a little more each time he was in the water. The best part was that he went at his own pace, not worried about the rest of his swim mates or how he measured up (can I get an amen!?). There wasn’t an ounce of comparison!

Do you know what happened by the end of two weeks? He was getting his whole head in the water, diving for rings, jumping off the edge and having the time of his life. The boy that was fighting back tears in the beginning had gained so much confidence and was thriving in a situation that would normally send him into an anxiety attack and had kept him from fully enjoying summer, family vacations and even tubby time at night.

Want to know something else I’ve learned from putting my kids in swim lessons?

Just because you’re not a natural at something (cooking, dancing, public speaking, taking photos, writing, singing, organizing, etc.) at first, doesn’t mean it’s not something you could be great at. When Tilly and Espen first started lessons 4 years ago they were definitely fish out of water. They were both a little awkward — Tilly was wild in the water and Espen was stiff and rigid — but you would never guess that was ever the case if you watched them swim today. They are both, in their own ways, really beautiful to watch move through the water. Of course, as their mama, I’m a bit biased :)

(besties!)

(life at the pool with our piles of stuff and new friends and instagram stories and me reminding the kids to “walk, please!” a million times and snacks. lots of snacks.)

(the bottom two pics were taken by tilly and I have all the heart eyes for them and the beach balls under griff’s shirt :)

So now I can’t stop thinking about those fears that keep me from enjoying life to the fullest and how I can break them down into small decisions…. Like getting my wisdom teeth out, because ow!!! Or signing up for dance classes, because I’m not a natural dancer. Or moving forward with certain parts of my business because it’s outside of my comfort zone.

I also can’t stop thinking about God’s love and faithfulness and thought of a dozen scriptures I could share but then found this one at the last minute. And this one too. They both say so much in so few words.

If you’re up for chatting I would love if you shared one thing that scares you? Or one lesson your kid(s) have taught you lately?

XO, Rae

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GRIFFIN IS 7 + A Q+A

You guys!!!! Griffin turns 7 today. It seems impossible that he’s another year older and as much as I would like to keep him 6 and do kindergarten all over, he’s grown up so much this year that he’s really earned the age upgrade. Remember how much fun it was to be another year older!??? Last night he insisted on sleeping in the clothes he wanted to wear on his Birthday day. Boyfriend knows what he wants sometimes and other times he’s so worried about missing out that making up his mind seems impossible (he get’s that from me)!

We put together this little interview video to celebrate his b-day and I think it really shows his personality! I’ve probably watched it a million times since Johan finished editing.

Griffin William, every minute I spend with you I fall a little more in love with you. So curious to see what you will do with your brains and humor and energy and hardworking attitude and attention to detail and attentiveness for people and sweetness in general. Daddy and I predict entrepreneur or surgeon (hello fine-motor skills), but whatever you end up doing we know you’ll do your very best and always love on people in the process. The world is better with you in it! We love you so much.

Shared a few Birthday moments on Instagram Stories this morning and are currently headed to Whidbey Island to party all day on the beach. Hope you guys are having an amazing Saturday and finding a million reasons (big and small) to celebrate!

XO, Rae

P.S. – Remember Tilly’s interview video?

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SEATTLE CITY GUIDE: ALKI BEACH WITH KIDS

TRUTH: There are five activities my kids will always be up for 1. playdates with friends 2. sleepovers 3. Disneyland 4. swimming 5. making (and eating) treats. Anything outside of this short list and chances are at least one of them will gripe, lay on the floor in protest and whine about how awful their day is going to be. They can be a little dramatic and I don’t mention it to complain or throw my kids under the bus, but because it’s exactly how our day started when we let the kids know we were headed up to Alki Beach after church. I also wanted to let you know because pictures have away of making things look easy and effortless and  despite how much fun we have once we we’re out, making our plan, getting everyone on the same page and following though doesn’t always look so pretty.

Now that you have a little bit of the BTS info (always want to be transparent with you guys!), here’s a photodump of our skyline looking, beach running, scooter riding outing to Alki Beach… It’s one of my favorite places to visit!

(I’ve been sharing fit pics on Instagram Stories if you’re interested! Tap the “#ootd” highlight button.)

You really can’t beat the beach town vibe of West Seattle paired with the skyline of the city. As small as Seattle is, it looks relatively big from across the puget sound. Hop on the water taxi and you’ll be at waterfront park, Seattle aquarium, the Great Wheel and Pike Place market!

If you’re visiting Seattle and would like tour guides, Espen and I are up for the job!!! Ha!

These pics of my babes! Oz met up with us later… just in time to get money for tacos as we were leaving, ha! JK, he and his girlfriend tried to meet up with us earlier but we kept missing them on our walk. Guess we’ll have to go back sooner than later (not mad about it).

The weather’s been in the upper 60’s to low 70’s and I know some of you would gladly trade us but I can’t wait til’ it’s hot enough to be in swimmers and jumping in the water… at least for me because I’m such a wimp about getting cold. The kids could care less of course!

How is she getting this big and independent!? Guess it means we’re doing our job though :)

Marination Ma Kai is the best place to grab street style tacos, but since we packed lunches this time we opted for shave ice instead and it did not disappoint. A very different treat compared to the kind you get at a concession stand or farmers market. In other words next time you stop in for tacos, stay for shave ice!

Back to the beginning of this post, and it might sound obvious but one of the best parenting lessons I’ve ever learned is to not let the kids call the shots. Especially not in the moment, because those moments are driven by how they feel and if how they feel is tired, comfortable, lazy or just “anti-everything”, those feelings will change once they start moving, seeing, and playing. Sure, we make adjustments based on our kids needs and likes – and sometimes we’ll call it a day earlier or stay closer to home to accommodate friend time, but there is always a greater purpose for getting out and exploring with our kids and I try to never lose sight of that for the sake of doing what is easy.

Do you know what happened when we got home from the beach (and after most outings)? ALL of the kids raved about how much fun they had. How much they loved riding scooters and playing on the beach and eating shave ice and spending time together.

It’s true what they say… parents know best. You’d think my kids would catch on by now, LOL.

How are your kids about going on outings!? Are they homebodies or do they love being out and about?

XO, Rae

P.S. – You can see other visits to Alki Beach here and here too.

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A DAY IN THE LIFE: 5 THINGS THAT MAKE OUR BEDTIME ROUTINE EASIER

Some nights (especially during the summer) we are carrying kids from the car into bed without tubs, jammies or brushing their teeth. Other nights, bedtimes are a full-blown process that I love and look forward to.  And then there are those nights every once in a while that I’m just really ready to be “off-duty”. That being said, I didn’t think our routine (or lack there of) would be all that helpful. So instead I thought I’d share the 5 things that we wouldn’t want to do bedtimes without! Would love to know what your must-haves would be, too!

1. A GIANT FAN IN THE HALLWAY – more often than not, the kids are all at different levels of tired when bedtime rolls around so the fan does wonders to muffle the noise coming from the more energetic or overly tired kids. So I usually turn it on once we are upstairs for bedtime until everyone is asleep and then plug it in once I get up in the morning until everyone is awake. We have the Patton three speed floor fan and keep it on the lowest setting — unless of course we’re using it to make a fort :)

2. ESSENTIAL OIL BEDTIME BLEND – Another thing I turn on as soon as we head upstairs is our diffusor! Wouldn’t say it magically makes my kids fall asleep, but it does help set the tone and smells delicious. My favorite bedtime oils are: lavender, wild orange, frankincense, cedarwood (if the kids have a stuffy nose or cough), and bergamot.

3. A BLUETOOTH SPEAKER & LULLABYS – I guess we need a lot of white noise in our house, lol, but it’s so nice to have soft music on and is another way to set the tone. We have an older version of this speaker (this is a good option too!) and then i usually play a lullaby mix on pandora.

4. AMAZING BOOKS – This is a given, but I think it’s also nice to stock up on books that non-reading kids can flip through (we love this hide and seek book) while they wait for you to be done tucking in someone else, etc.. Audio books are a good idea too!

  

Last but not least, it’s always good to have a running list of seemingly spontaneous bedtime activities. A few that work for us…

5. A BAG OF TRICKS

  • Yoga or mindfulness: I’ll either make things up as we go (balance poses, stretching or laying down poses are best at bedtime!) or turn on cosmic kids on youtube which is amazing! For mindfulness or guided meditation I’ll hop on go noodle (look in the “flow” section) or search youtube.
  • “Plan” something fun: like a special bath bomb, animal face masks, painting with watercolors or eating popsicles in the tub, making a fort to read books in, etc.
  • When you need a break: not every bedtime has to be magical and despite all the studies, you can still raise kids that love to read without reading to them EVERY night. Opt for a quick show (my kids love when it’s in our bed), a few minutes of tech time, an audio book and if certain kids are extra wild I’ll ask if they (mostly Tilly) would like a melatonin :)

One other thing I do that I think helps is making sure all the overhead lights are off in the kids’ rooms and instead turn on their reading lights. Since it’s so bright at night in the summer it doesn’t make as much of a difference, but the rest of the year I swear by doing this!

There is truly nothing as sweet as spending that last hour or so of the day with my kids — it’s a sacred time that I rarely want to miss… Now if we could just get everyone to bed before 10pm that would be great. Although, who has time for early bedtimes in the summer?

Would love to know what works for you at bedtime!?

XO, Rae

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THINGS WE LOVE: DANCE PARTIES + DONUTS

RECIPE FOR A HAPPY MONDAY:

  1. pump up music
  2. booty shaking
  3. donuts. 

Press play and see if you can spot Griffin’s fortnite dance move, paper-rock-scissors for the maple with chocolate chips donut, the hair flip, Tilly’s cute bestie Londan, Johan trying to spin Poppy and then Espen, and my embarrassing solo (hashtag mom-moves)!? HA!

Sent the kids off to school for the last Monday of the year and it feels so good to be almost done (last day is Thursday!).

Hope you’re having a good Monday but if not, follow the recipe above :)

XO, Rae

PS – if you aren’t already following us on youtube, CLICK HERE! 

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TILLY LATELY AND A Q&A

I always tell Tilly she was my best surprise ever, and it’s true. Since we didn’t find out gender while I was pregnant with her, I had very similar pregnancies with my two boys, and always felt like I’d be a boy mama, I assumed she would be a boy and boy, was I wrong. It was a magical moment when the Dr. yelled out, “It’s a girl!” and laid her on my chest. I’m learning more and more everyday, how to be a girl mom to such an incredible human… She is fiercely independent, a total overachiever, super helpful when she wants to be, makes life exciting, loves crafting and making, and has the biggest sweet tooth… you’ll see more about that in the video.

I had the best time listening to her answers and hope it’s entertaining for you too… press play!

Her “special thing”, HA! She tends to need a few minutes to cool off when she’s upset,  but when we’d ask her to go to her room until she’s ready to chat, she would throw a fit on her way up. Then one day about a year ago she quietly walked up to her room without a fuss when we asked. I was shocked so followed her up a minute later and saw her snacking on a small handful of m&m’s. When I asked her about it the next day she spilled the beans and said a little bit of sugar made her feel better, LOL. Mostly amazed at how self aware she is but also realize that I’m raising an emotional eater — kinda figure that we’re all emotional eaters on some level and hope that as long as we workout the problems it won’t get out of hand!

Excited to do a Q&A video with the rest of the kids… next up will be Griffin I think :)

Happy Monday you guys!

xo, Rae

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