Archive | FAMILY

FAQ: WHAT’S IN OUR CAMERA BAG

Lots of FAQ lately that I try to always answer personally but find that some days I’m able to give more links, better details and just finish complete sentences better than others. So even though answering things on a personal level ( I love chatting with you!) is always my goal, giving you good, helpful answers is too – so with that in mind, I’m going to put all the answers to your FAQs down in blog post form making it easier for you to find what you need, pin for safe keeping, and reference whenever applicable! YAY!

Our first question is one I’ve been getting on and off for a little over a year and since none of our equipment has changed during that time (for 3 years total actually) I feel confident in sharing what has worked so well for us. Also, it’s a great time of year to invest in yourself, a new hobby and capturing memories!

Q: WHAT CAMERA AND GEAR DO YOU USE TO TAKE PHOTOS?

A: WE SHOOT WITH A CANON BODY + LENS, BUT HERE ARE ALLLLL THE DETAILS…

  • CAMERA BODY | Currently using an EOS 40D but have also used a canon EOS 5D (just an older model of the same camera body) that worked great!
  • CAMERA LENSE | Typically the most important (and expensive) part of the camera… we use a canon 35mm f/1.4L as a great everyday lens!
  • SD CARD | The better the card, the more photos you can take and the better and quicker your camera will work and click. We’ve had great luck with this SanDisk 32gb and this Lexar 64gb.
  • EDITING |  Adobe photoshop lightroom is the only program I use to edit my photos on the computer. Very user friendly in my opinion plus you can batch edit which saves so much time compared to photoshop!
  • SAVING | After I edit and save my images for print or for the blog/social, I move the original unedited raw files to an external hard-drive for safe keeping and so they don’t take up space on my computer.
  • IMAGE SHARING | I load almost all of my edited and saved images to dropbox so I can easily share with family, friends and clients and access and save to my phone too using the dropbox app.

*Another follow up question I get is regarding videos which we shoot with my iPhone 8 plus and then my husband, Johan, edits them in Adobe Premier Pro!

I love answering this question because I know how much I’ve enjoyed learning to use a camera (along with Johan!), capturing our family and having all the memories without having to be a a professional photographer. It’s the best way I know to bottle up our kids’ milestones, personalities and relationships with each other. They are getting big and growing up so fast, but they will never be as young as they are today, again. To me that’s worth photographing and remembering and while I’m all for iPhone pics (I take many!), having a big camera somehow makes me feel like I’m being more intentional and staying more present. BUT, it also takes time and commitment to learn and get comfortable with so I wouldn’t suggest making the investment in a DSLR camera until you’re ready to learn, practice, fail, grow, adjust and practice some more. Of course it’ll get easier each time and you’ll get some amazing photos along the way that will make it all worth it!

Let me know if you have any other questions about photography, family, style or momming and I’ll be sure to answer in the comments or in a follow up FAQ post!

xo, Rae

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VIDEO: AVOIDING THE HOLIDAY MELTDOWNS + EASY MOMMY + ME YOGA

The girls and I put together a little Holiday themed yoga (with lots of stretching) sequence and are so excited to share! I’ve mentioned a couple times (here + no. 11 here) that we use yoga to help all of us slowdown, wind-down and reconnect and with the hustle and bustle of Christmas and endless opportunities to consume sugar I figured we all could use some zen-ness!

Hopefully the names and moves make it easy to remember! A little description of each…

  • GINGERBREAD HOUSE – a house pose with feet apart and hands together over your head to make a roof.
  • CHRISTMAS TREE – same a the tree pose, hands together to make the top of the tree, and depending on level of difficulty and balance, place foot above or below your knee.
  • STAR – feet apart and hands out at your side… then can’t resist doing some jumping jacks (slash elves).
  • CANDY CANE – bend side to side to stretch!
  • SNOW DOG – classic downward dog, but don’t forget to lift each leg and shake the snow off.
  • MAKE COOKIES – stretch your legs and core by grabbing dough, rolling it out, then grabbing flour, cookie cutters, frosting and sprinkles as you turn to each side.
  • REINDEER – gotta get ready to pull santa’s sleigh so stretch out that booty by pulling your knee to chest and then adding antlers with your hands, because you’re a reindeer, ha! :)
  • SANTA’S SLEIGH – normally called the bow pose.
  • SUGAR PLUM – we always finish by resting on our backs or stomaches… if it’s right before bedtime we’ll add some deep breaths and close our eyes, if not it always ends up in a pig pile!

What other poses or stretches could you give a Christmas-y name?

How do you guys like to slowdown during the holidays?

xo, Rae

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A HOLIDAY BUCKET LIST + PHOTOS FROM THE TREE FARM

There are two different kinds of people. Ones that see what they like and devour it because it’s just so good and those that see something they like and take it in small doses so it lasts as long as humanly possible. I think this concept can be applied to almost every area of life from eating a bowl of ice cream to deciding what (or how much) to watch on Netflix and even holiday festivities. My husband, being more of a devourer, suggested we head to the tree farm last Sunday right after the kids sat on Santa’s lap and had their pictures taken. Like, in the same day you guys. And I guess I can see where he was coming from. Everyone was having fun and being good so why not take advantage and keep the christmas party train going. But the idea of doing two holiday traditions in ONE DAY almost gave me an anxiety attack (ha!) because I really like to spread things out in small bites.

So I did something I do every time I start to feel anxious about our schedule – I made a list. It started as a bucket list but ended up being a list of all the things that would be fun to do over the next month. Because really Christmas time is not like ice cream… there is more than enough holiday magic to go around. Here’s the list so far.

25 THINGS TO DO IN DECEMBER

  1. watch an old christmas movie at an old theater, preferably in our jammies
  2. attend/support a local event — we usually attend a pancake feed fundraiser at a local firestation (not Johan’s) and this year Tilly is singing with the school choir at that same event!
  3. go see the nutcracker (or other holiday play/musical — seeing elf was so fun last year!)
  4. go to the tree farm (again) for a tiny tree, the train ride and hot cocoa of course.
  5. make paper snowflakes
  6. make a garland, paper chain or countdown chain
  7. read the story of baby Jesus from the Bible
  8. collect toys, clothes, coats, warm socks and blankets to donate
  9. host a christmas movie night for the kids and their friends (this was a new addition to our fall bucket list this year — we watched transylvania 3 — and it was so. much. fun.)
  10. take the kids to see the new grinch movie
  11. make teacher gifts
  12. write and snail mail a letter to santa or a handmade christmas card to a friend or family member.
  13. go on the polar express
  14. campout in the family room by the tree!
  15. bake cookies to share (and eat)
  16. leave candy canes on car windows
  17. go caroling (hoping i can convince friends to do it with us!)
  18. go ice skating
  19. go skiing
  20. go sledding
  21. plan a staycation and swim in the hotel pool (ps – our favorite swim co is launching a resort collection on monday and i’m hoping to snag a few!)
  22. go to snowflake lane (or other Santa parade)
  23. grab hot cocoa and go look at christmas lights
  24. buy a new ornament and/or christmas book
  25. zoo-lights

Now the next time I feel like things are moving too quickly, i have a list of big and little things we can do (preferably in our pjs) to keep the celebration going.

No idea why tilly is throwing her cup and actually don’t remember Johan taking our picture… might actually be by Griffin now that I think about it!

On the hunt for the perfect Christmas tree. Everyone agreed on the same tree which is not the norm and setting it up in the family room with lights and ornaments just made us fall in love with it more. The next day, one of the kids had a friend over and the first thing out of their mouth when they saw our tree was, “why is your tree so small?” HA!

I guess we’re Charlie Brown tree kinda people.

Everyone took turns trying to saw the tree down while Poppy offered moral support.

Tilly + Poppy playing “stylist” in the pics below. I die! Mostly because Tilly usually resists anything style related… I know she secretly likes it :)

Ran into our sweet friends and their snuggly dog too!

I love you Christmas. I love you family. Missed you Oz.

When it comes to life or eating ice cream, do you prefer to fit it all in or make them last?

What’s on your holiday bucket list?

xo, Rae

PS – OUTFIT DETAILS (for those that are interested): my coat, hat, boots (jeans are levis but couldn’t find a link) | tilly’s top | kids’ rain boots

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PRINTABLE ADVENT CALENDAR (REPOST!)

After a few email requests I thought it was time to bring back one of my favorite posts ever…. a scratch off advent calendar. Tilly was a squeaky clean 5 year old in these pics. Also worth noting is her amazing outfit. I think she wore that t-shirt weekly for 3 straight years and coincidentally, everything she was wearing today (you can peek at my stories) is from the same shop I mention below. Still one of my favorite places to find stuff for the kids!

We can talk more about that later. Here’s the REPOST:

happy day before turkey day!

i have a couple fun things to share with you today, including my new favorite place to shop for the kids, but first a tutorial!

if you are like me, you started thinking about christmas way before it was time to make a shopping list for thanksgiving; especially considering how close the two holidays are this year! in an effort to help you get ready for december 1st i thought i would share a free download and tutorial to make this fun scratch card, advent calendar. it takes a couple hours to make so hopefully you have time over the weekend.

…here are the details…

SUPPLIES: white card stock, the pdf template (CLICK HERE to download), clear packing tape, butcher or wax paper, metallic paint, dish soap, paint brush (the sponge kind), a bucket of candy canes or favorite christmas candy

STEP 1: sign up for emails at the bottom of this post, download the template that is located on the “success” page, print on card stock and cut along dashed line.

STEP 2: cut long strips of packing tape and stick to the wax side of your butcher paper.

STEP 3: mix 1 part dish soap with 3 parts metallic craft paint.

STEP 4: using your sponge brush, paint over the strips of tape until completely covered (this will take a few coats).

STEP 5: while the paint is drying, fill in the blank advent cards (i think there are 5 of them) with whatever you think the kids will like!

STEP 6: once the paint has dried completely, cut the painted tape to a generous 5 inches wide. peel the paper from the back of the tape and stick to the bottom of each advent card, covering the message and almost halfway up the card. trim any excess tape that hangs off the edges.

STEP 7: hang your finished advent cards on a wall, chalkboard or bulletin-board with a bucket of candy canes (or fave christmas candy) and a penny so the kids can scratch off the tape and reveal the message! the idea is to have the kids do what the message says and then take a treat, but you can do whatever works for your brood.

tilly enjoyed practicing scratching off the paint to reveal a message for out little photo shoot and wanted to do all of them at once!

i have a feeling i’ll either be making a set for each child or will have to have a clear system in place so it’s easy to keep track of who’s turn it is!

now let’s talk kids clothes… peek kids is my newest pint sized fashion obsession and it all started with this sequence skirt i purchased for tilly to wear to her roller skating birthday party in october. she has since gotten a ton of use out of it, usually with a fun and playful message tee (of which peek has a ton of!), but i am looking forward to dressing it up with a fancy top for the holidays.

gotta love clothes that are made for a child’s lifestyle (in terms of durability and function) with the style and personality to match! don’t you think? have you shopped at peek before?

let me know if you have any questions about the tutorial (or tilly’s outfit) in the comments and be sure to sign up for emails!

xo . rae

{images by stacy jacobsen}

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PHOTOS + A VIDEO FROM THE REINDEER FARM IN LEAVENWORTH

I’ve been to Leavenworth more times than I can count and most of the time I’m excited to eat, visit and do all the things at our usual spots but every once in awhile something new pops up that I can’t wait to try with Johan and the kids. This time it happened to be a Reindeer Farm and it was a huge hit. I’ll let the crazy amount of pictures and quick video below do all of the talking… we loved every minute!


I was taking pics of the kids in Santa’s sleigh when he snuck up behind me! Most of the kids thought it was hilarious. Poppy about lost her mind.

Once Santa was out of sight, someone offered to snap a family photo of us on the sleigh (love it when people do that!) and while you never quite know if it’ll turn out, I think this time we might just have a Christmas card photo!

The kids literally haven’t stopped talking about our new reindeer friends. Through all of our conversations, we all agreed that the reindeer in the movie The Santa Clause are the most accurate depiction of the very quirky and mischievous animals. Bet you can guess what’s showing next on our family movie night!?

Love when outings lead to conversations. Makes all the chaos worth it!

xo, Rae

PS – for all my local friends that might be planning a stay in Leavenworth, I’m going to share some of our favorite places to eat tomorrow. Is there anything else you’d like me to share.

PPS – sign up for emails so you don’t miss anything!

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HAPPY (BELATED) THANKSGIVING + SO GRATEFUL

A little belated since I meant to share this post on Thanksgiving Day but I wanted to make sure you know how much I appreciate you!

Thank you for being here.

For being part of our fam.

For the endless encouragement, ideas and stories you share. I don’t take a single comment or email for granted.

And for letting me be a small part of your minutes, days and journey.

I love having this space as a journal for our family as well as connecting with others but what I hope most of all is that the photos, ideas and inspiration for everything from fun things to do with kids to parenting tid-bits and outfit inspiration serves and encourages you!!!

(a few silly pics my dad took of us over thanksgiving break at our cabin in Leavenworth, WA)

I share so much (maybe too much, lol.) but would love to get to know you a little better too. If you have a sec to tell me a little about yourself or leave a link to your blog/biz/social/project, I’d love to check it out!

xo, Rae

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A STORY FROM MY SINGLE MOM DAYS + LEARNING THAT I WAS ENOUGH.

Shared something that was on my heart today over on Instagram and didn’t want you to miss out on it so am going to repost here too:

A sneaky little reminder as we head into the holidays this week: You are enough and you are doing enough.

Once upon a time I was a single mom, raising Ozzie solo, working several jobs and going to school. One of our fist Christmas’ together I could barely afford to keep the lights on let alone buy Ozzie any gifts. I felt like the worst mom ever but luckily my own mom suggested I make him something and then helped me sew a nativity scene  to wrap up and give him.At the time it hardly felt like enough but to this day that Christmas is one of my favorite and that gift is one of the best I’ve ever given simply because I showed up and did my best.

One hunky husband, four adorable kids and a lot more finances later, it’s stilly easy for me to get caught up in the things that matter the least this time of year. To walk through Target, flip through an Anthropologie catalogue or scroll through Pinterest and see all the things I wish I could buy or do and while all of that is good and cute, none of it would actually add any value to this season more than being my best and giving my best to the people I love. 

I hope my story resonates or encourages you! It might take faith and some grace but all the good stuff does. 

A few pics of me and my man-child that make me laugh and burst with gratitude at the same time.

Just like the good ol’ days, lol.

A quick tangent… I used to daydream about what he would be like as he got older and what our life and relationship would be like too. And then I would worry about my ability to give him everything he needed and deserved. Most of my worries were based off of lies, statistics and insecurities. Most of them had zero merit. None of them have actually come true.

I’m not saying it hasn’t been hard. We’ve been through a lot. Even in our family now as we navigate life as a blended family, there are hiccups and things we have to work though.

But this kid, our relationship and our life is better than I ever imagined.

And I owe a lot of that to Oz for inspiring me to be better and require better for myself all because I’ve always wanted the best for him.

HA!

10 tidbits from my pregnancy + newborn stage with Oz:

  1. I was 20 but looked 15.
  2. I lived on spoonfuls of Jiffy peanut butter and bowls of Cherrios during my first trimester.
  3. After crying during two soccer practices from frustration and fatigue (I don’t cry) I thought I had mono so went to student health (lovingly called “student death” at the time) for tests and discovered I was fatigued and having weird cravings for other reasons.
  4. At my 20 week ultrasound the Dr. thought Oz was a girl… I was going to name him Riley.
  5. When changing OB’s at 7 months pregnant the ultrasound tech said, “Looks like you have a healthy boy!” not knowing I had been told it was a girl :)
  6. I went 10 days past my due date and thought I was gonna die.
  7. Oz was a miracle baby! Long story short, he wasn’t breathing when he was born. I watched doctors give him CPR just a few feet away from me. His first apgar test was a 2. Nurses talked to me about possible brain damage and a very long hospital stay. 10 minutes later he scored a 9. Two days later we were released on my 21st bday. MIRACLE. I also never doubted how much I loved him after that.
  8. After leaving the hospital, we went out to eat a giant meal and then to my health class to take an exam.
  9. Oz spent his first 7 months attending college classes with me. He was a dream baby but spit up lots and often — nothing could have prepared me for it!
  10. He slept through the night at 6 weeks and has always been a heavy sleeper. (The earliest my other kids slept through the night was 7 months, lol.)

So fun thinking of 10 things… thanks for humoring me!

Love you guys. Happy Thanksgiving week!

OX, Rae

PS – here’s another link to my Instagram post in case you want to say hi or forward to a friend (hint, hint)!!!

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THOSE FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS + A FAMILY UPDATE

We’ve been in a bit of a blissful post-sports-season lull around our home since last saturday and I’m not gonna lie, this mama that appreciates a packed calendar is LOVING the slowness and togetherness. Nothing like going from having multiple teams and sports happening 6 days a week to almost nothing except off season baseball practices with a few school events sprinkled in.

The perks include but not limited to… kids that have bathed almost every night (ironically since they probably need it less, lol), a more manageable laundry pile without all the layers of practice gear and uniforms, and a car that smells less and less like an old pair of soccer cleats by the day. In addition, all 5 kids ate after school snack together on wednesday and then yesterday they all went with Johan to target just for fun while I got dinner started. ALLLL OF THEM! Can you tell I’m in heaven?

Of course wrapping up a season is always a little bittersweet too. I miss seeing the kids play and be with their teammates but mostly missing our Friday nights watching Oz play high school football. He didn’t grow up playing peewee football or anything so I wouldn’t say we’re much of a football family, but there is seriously nothing like Friday Night Lights. Plus it always gave us something fun to look forward to and do with the family!

Found a few pictures from a small tailgate we did before a game earlier in October…. Take me back!

(Poppy’s cute salty pretzel tee from HERE!)

The jumping and the smiling face action shot — so much to love about this pic!

Gigi and Bestemor chatting in the pic below. Can you guess which one of them gave birth to me and which one to my 6ft 3inch husband? ;)

The colors below! I can hardly handle how pretty. Also when leaves double as entertainment for the kids.

Tailgating was one of the things on our fall bucket list and the weather was good enough in October we ended up doing it twice! Now we just have to figure out a new way to spend our Friday nights…

Speaking of calendars and bucket lists, I have a couple questions for ya:

  1. do you prefer when the calendar is full and busy or more flexible with lots of time to hunker down at home?
  2. have you been thinking about what to put on your Christmas, Holiday or Winter bucket list?

I just started jotting down ideas this week. Can’t believe we’ll be wrapping up our fall bucket list (even though fall doesn’t officially end until December 21st) with Thanksgiving next week!

Happy Weekend + Lots of Love!

XO, Rae

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HOLIDAY SURVIVAL GUIDE: 4 WAYS TO MAKE HOLIDAY DINNERS FUN FOR KIDS (AND ADULTS)

Holiday meals with kids can add an extra level of stress to time with family but we’ve been at it a long time and have found a few ways to keep our sanity in tact while also making it more fun for the kids (and adults too). It took us a long time to get to this point so hopefully these tips help you in someway!

  1. Having a plan for before and after dinner. It’s a given that kids will get bored (and starving) so having a couple light snacks and a craft or activity before dinner is so helpful. It’s also a given that kids will finish eating before the adults so having a plan while everyone finished eating (and chatting) is smart too. Otherwise there will be constant interruptions by little people asking for pie! (Our pregame is usually a craft like the paper headbands or hat pictured or something from Target and postgame is a short Christmas movie like rudolph. Also, pushing nap time back a little always helped with our younger ones so they wake up right before dinner.)
  2. Getting kids involved in the table setting. Ours usually make place cards and drink tags or draw pictures on note cards to leave at each plate. Older kids can write conversation starters and fill up water glasses, etc. Putting napkins at each place setting is easy for little ones… or kick it up a notch for big kids and try fancy folded napkins (found these fun ideas!)
  3. Get on the same page! Discussing expectations of the kids (and adults) beforehand… what they eat (slash don’t eat), etc. Also, some manners refreshers the week before thanksgiving is usually a good idea in our home. Things get pretty wild (i.e. loud) around our dinner table.
  4. Ignore the haters that think it’s crazy you excuse your kids from the table when there’s still food on their plate or that don’t understand why you would let them have pumpkin pie when they didn’t eat any turkey. Just because they care doesn’t mean you have to… I mean, who wants to spend their holiday meal in a power struggle with a preschooler, toddler or grandparent (lol) over being a part of the clean plate club. Save that for normal family dinner nights ;)

(excuse the abundance of griff and poppy pics. i couldn’t narrow down my favorites!)

Do you guys set up a kids tables during holidays or mix company at the main table?

We’ve done it both ways but usually have the kids at the adult table so they can get involved in the conversation. Plus it’s a shorter walk (for me, lol) when they need seconds, or help with something!

XO, Rae

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THINGS EVERY FAMILY ROOM SHOULD HAVE

We’re in the process of painting a few walls and shuffling furniture around in our home. Mostly from the family room to the man cave slash playroom which has left us with a very empty room that’s going to need some refreshing! (YAY! Just a little excited about it.) When we redid the boys room over the summer, we made a list of everything a kids room should have in it and it was super helpful, so we started one for the family room too. A little surprised at how short the list is so I know we’re missing things, ha! Would love any and all input!

FAMILY ROOM MUST-HAVES:

  1. a stack of chat books for little walks down memory lane
  2. throw blankets + pillows
  3. a cozy couch
  4. a coffee table big enough to play games or color at.
  5. photos + art
  6. tv and a good sound bar!
  7. soft lighting (i.e. lamps)

I think the biggest challenge will be finding a couch we can afford (key word) that’s cozy to sit on and looks good but can also handle grubby fingers and a pile of people on family movie nights. If you know a good place to shop for one that checks all those boxes, please share!

I’ve also been on the hunt for inexpensive frames I can mix and match on a gallery wall in the family room and am having the hardest time finding some. Other than Ikea or the thrift store, where do you guys find them?!?

And don’t forget to share what your family room must-haves are!?

xo, Rae

(Photos by my brilliant husband, Johan.)

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PHOTOS FROM HALLOWEEN IN SEATTLE 2018

On Halloween We:

Dress up like — Darth Vader (Griffin), Planet of the Apes (Espen), A soccer player (Tilly), Minnie Mouse (Poppy), Mickey Mouse (Johan), and a Strawberry (Me)… Not pictured were Ozzie and his sweet girlfriend who dressed up like a baseball player and an angel for Angels in the Outfield (so cute!)

Make last minute costume changes — Poppy, who was 100% committed to being a strawberry (because in her own words, she luuuuuvs strawberries. she luuuuuv eating strawberries and she luuuuvs being a strawberry.), woke up from a nap 15 minutes before heading out to trick or treat and was repulsed by her strawberry costume. Like wouldn’t go within 10 feet of it. But luckily she was wearing a black dress and we had minnie mouse ears on hand from going to the kids’ classroom parties (costumes aren’t allowed but headbands don’t count, right?) so it all worked out.

Try something new — We usually hangout in our neighborhood with a group of friends (who we love!) but this year decided to switch things up a bit so headed to Queen Anne for their trick or treating event and then walked to Johan’s sister and brother in laws place for dinner, candy eating and a movie.

Hold hands — probably my favorite part this year was that in between going into the shops and knocking on doors, there was always someone’s hand to hold… my favorite!

Count, sort, trade and then taste test the candy — always the first thing that happens once we’re indoors after trick or treating. Do your kids do the same?

Watch the nightmare before Christmas — or at least we did this year after getting back from trick or treating. Am I the only person that isn’t into this movie?

Listen to Christmas music — after the festivities, on the drive home of course, lol.

Carry around a pet ghost balloon — Just in case one of the kids got separated so they’d be able to look up and find us…. it was kind of annoying to drag around (mostly for the other people walking on the sidewalk, lol) but actually came in handy when Tilly wandered off. I’ll explain below!

Digging into poppy’s bucket after she said it was getting heavy, lol! Just doing my part to help a sister out!

Two pics above, everyone’s in the frame while Johan is figuring out settings for the camera so we can ask a stranger to snap a family pic. One pic above, Johan hopped in the frame but do you notice someone else missing? HA! Tilly somehow wandered across the street and we didn’t notice until we were finished with the pic and saw her standing on the other side of the crosswalk looking at us like, “where have you guys been!?” Sooooo glad she stayed put and didn’t keep wandering down the sidewalk… it’s my biggest fear on Halloween. Also the reason why I appreciate starting trick or treating before it get’s dark.

(might be the world’s worst at making a kissy face, hahahah!)

Our days of trick or treating are numbered so feeling extra thankful for our little halloween together, trying something new and having the best time. Hope you guys had the best Halloween yet!

Let me know what your favorite part was in the comments please… I love it when you share!

XO, Rae

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