Archive | FAMILY

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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HAPPY HALLOWEEN + LIFE LATELY

H A P P Y   H A L L O W E E N   F R I E N D S ! ! ! 

If you’re looking for a fun activity to tide the kids over before it’s time to knock on doors, mummy making is perfect and all you need is is a few rolls of t.p. and a couple willing participants.

So much celebrating around our home this past week. Tilly turned double digits (10!) and had a big sleepover bash over the weekend. Ozzie turned 18 on Monday and we hosted a big family and friend dinner for him (it was magic!). And of course today is Halloween so we’ll be partying in the kids’ classrooms and then heading to Johan’s sister’s place on Queen Anne to trick or treat tonight!

Can’t wait to see everyone in their costumes tonight… my crew will be a mix of animals, food, athletes and star wars characters, lol. Never can get everyone to agree on a theme!

What about your fam bam… Do you try to match or does everyone do their own thing?

XO, Rae

 

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STOCKING UP ON FALL ESSENTIALS

A little round up of things we’ve been stocking up on in preparation of fall, the holidays and time spent cozied up indoors or wet and cold outdoors. Also included a couple things I’ll be using in posts and projects coming up on the blog and instagram too!

one | so soft and cozy and only $15-$18 per set. so many colors to choose from that are especially perfect if you’re a fan of festive jammies but hate spending on things that go “out of season” so quickly. snagged a few different colors for griffin and poppy here + here. great for adding layers under snow and rain gear too!

two | knee high socks are so cute and great for little ones that don’t like tights!

three | time to stock up on boots and these were too adorable not to share.

four | inside means we’ll be baking and cooking a lot more. even with endless recipes to search on pinterest, there’s something special and refreshing about cooking from a cookbook. lots to choose from but have been using magnolia table (found at costco) and what’s gaby cooking (more summery foods but still fall-worthy!) lots lately.

five | we’ll be making ghost cookies over the weekend and would love you to join us!

six | just in case you need a new serving tray. love this one so much. you can also find a darker blue (even thought it says black) one here.

seven | i started giving the kids these probiotics just before they went back to school and they’ve kept everyone healthy and their tummies feeling good too… i would for sure grab a bottle before everyone’s sugar intake goes up with all the Halloween parties!

eight | tilly has plans to make slime to handout to classmates and friends for halloween and i thought these containers would be the perfect thing to package it in. along with a spider or googly eyes. will try and share a slime tutorial on stories tomorrow after school!

nine | we love our instax! actually it’s tilly’s (great christmas gift idea!) but we all use it. just stocked up on more film to use for making place cards for thanksgiving dinner.

ten | a coloring poster saved my sanity more than once last winter and spring so thought I’d buy one and save it for the next time we were all cooped up and struggling. ha! these coloring and activity posters look great too and are a bigger scale for younger kids.

Do you guys usually think ahead and stock up on stuff or buy as you need?

Also curious what you are most likely to purchase from the roundup above!?

Happy Wednesday!

xo, Rae

PS – did you see our mummy moves from last night?

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HIKING TWIN FALLS WITH KIDS + A WE CAN DO HARD THINGS

Have you guys ever had the kind of week or weekend that was so, so good but also so, so hard? Personally raising both hands after this past weekend which, by all regards, was amazing and guess what!? It was 4 days long! Even better, the weather was to-die-for. We crammed so much into 4 days (including a hike at Twin Falls!) and had lots of fun but at the same time, we were all a little “off”. Johan worked 3 of the 4 days, the kids bickered with each other like crazy and were (generally speaking) hard to please, bedtimes were HARD for no apparent reason, and the list goes on.

Sure there were special moments sprinkled in over the 4 days. But I fell asleep most nights exhausted and ready for a squeaky clean start!? I’ve since gone over things in my mind and think I’ve found a pretty good perspective on it all that I’ll share below but first, a few pics from our hike — AKA one of the very, very good parts from the weekend (except that Johan and Ozzie weren’t with us — we missed you!).

Tilly and Griffin snagged the big camera a couple times and snapped some pics. It’s always so fun to see what they capture — I love them all. Even the fuzzy ones :)

I think it’s just the all black outfit, but looks a little like big foot is sneaking up behind Espen and Griffin in the pic below, LOL.

It was gorgeous up in the woods and mountains and the air was crisp and delicious to breath. There were little turn-offs along the trail where we could take a break (or let people pass us, lol) and throw rocks into the river.

Our view of the waterfall – almost a mile into the hike. We made it another 1/4 of a mile before turning around. Tilly and Griff were disappointed but the other two were ready to head home.

Overall, Poppy did way better than I expected, walked almost the entire time (even the steep parts!) and slept soooo good that night!

The next best thing to chubby baby legs has to be skinny middle school legs (insert heart eyes emoji)… example: two pictures up.

Also… so many sticks, HA! Walking sticks, throwing sticks, funny looking sticks, so basically kid heaven and my worst nightmare. Okay, I’m exaggerating a little. I don’t normally mind when my kids play with sticks, but the trail was pretty busy so it was a little stressful and, like with most outings we go on there’s always one phrase I repeat constantly. This time it was, “keep your sticks pointed down, please!”

Espen stopping for a snack break and Poppy stopping for a kiss break!

Back to my fresh revelation on something I probably knew before but know in a new way now… may I always remember on the rougher days (weeks + months) that God’s working things out for our good. And that even though I might be ready for it to end so we can start over the next morning (hallelujah!) it’s not a throw away day. It hold just as much value (maybe more?) than the good days because through it I’m learning to be a better mom and human and they’re learning to be better, sweeter humans too. It’s just a little uncomfortable, ya know?

How does that saying go…? No guts, no glory. Pretty sure that applies to motherhood too but guess what?

WE CAN DO HARD THINGS.

Hope you’re having one of those good days but if not, I hope this post encourages you!

XO, Rae

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DAY IN THE LIFE VIDEO: COLLEGE FOOTBALL SATURDAY

Happy weekend you guys!!!

One of our favorite things about fall is the start of football season. If you follow along on Instagram Stories, then you know where we are most Friday evenings (Friday Night Lights!) and most Saturday mornings you’ll find Game Day on, followed by games, lots of good food and a bit of chaos :). We don’t always get to spend Saturday mornings at home (hello soccer season), but when we do, it’s my favorite!

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to wake up to five kids (+ a couple extra friends) on a weekend, press play!… also note how slow my brain function is by the end of the day, lol.

Is this what your Saturdays look like? Are there any other days of the week or parts of our life that you’d like to see?

XOXO, Rae

PS – for more videos click over to our youtube channel and be sure to subscribe!

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A LIST OF OUR FAVORITE FALL FAMILY MOVIES + PICS FROM THE HORSE TRACK

A few weeks ago, after watching Secretariat for Family Movie Night, we decided to plan a trip to see actual horse races and had so much fun! I’ll share more about it and some pics below, but first…

…Our movie inspired outing and the months of cozy weather ahead had me dreaming up a list of fall movies so I thought I would share! I separated younger kid movies from ones to watch on date-night-in or with the older kids, but you might also want to check movie reviews on Common Sense Media (if you don’t already?). Not an ad, just a really good (well rounded) resource for us parents! Takes the guesswork out.

FALL MOVIES FOR FAMILY MOVIE NIGHT

  1. hocus pocus
  2. halloweentown
  3. hotel transylvania
  4. e.t.
  5. twitches
  6. bed knobs and broomsticks
  7. it’s the great pumpkin, charlie brown
  8. casper
  9. harry potter and the sorcerer’s stone (save this one for school age kids)
  10. mom’s got a date with a vampire
  11. matilda
  12. a charlie brown thanksgiving
  13. little giants (football season!)
  14. enchanted

FAVORITE FALL MOVIES FOR DATE NIGHT (OR OLDER KIDS)

  1. scream
  2. practical magic
  3. buffy the vampire slayer
  4. ghostbusters (80’s version of a PG movie so more like a PG-13)
  5. gremlins
  6. the addams family
  7. the goonies
  8. stepmom
  9. rudy
  10. marley and me
  11. you’ve got mail
  12. the blind side
  13. good will hunting
  14. ferris bueller’s day off (fun for back to school!)
  15. sweet home alabama
  16. election (because election season!)
  17. meet joe black (might be a good one too!)

A FEW OTHER RANDOM ONES THAT ARE ON OUR MOVIE LIST (not divided by age)

  1. willy wonka
  2. the parent trap
  3. annie
  4. mary poppies
  5. the sandlot (always)
  6. mrs. doubtfire
  7. the princess bride
  8. my girl
  9. father of the bride
  10. alexander and the terrible horrible no good very bad day.
  11. house of rock
  12. troop beverly hills

For those of you with different ages of movie goers (i.e. little ones that need an earlier bedtime and/or don’t sit through a full movie and older ones that are eager to stay up and watch), something that worked for us is planning a halftime or intermission after 30 minutes or so then taking a break to put the younger ones down and grabbing a snack or treat for the older ones before starting the movie again.

Now, back to our outing to the horse track, which was much more casual and laidback than I imagined. Parking was easy, there was lots of space for the kids to run around and it wasn’t crowded at all. Even better, the prices were reasonable enough to not feel pressure to stay all day (gotta get your moneys worth, ya know!).

A bunch of pics from the afternoon!

A few pics I took with my phone!

The food was bad, but still good if you know what I mean.

Now back to the big camera :)

The horses were so big and strong and the races were fun to watch but I think more than anything the kids enjoyed placing bets — even if all we were betting was $1. Made watching the races extra exciting! After each race you could see the horses being walked back to their stables. So stunning to see them up close!

In the below pics, Johan told the kids to act like their horse just won the race, lol… this is what he got!

The boys were obviously way more into it, ha! Love their enthusiasm.

Love experiencing new things with them! Also love me a good movie night with just Johan or as a family… makes me want to make a bowl of popcorn and turn on a flick right now!

Speaking of popcorn, what’s your go-to snack or treat of choice during a movie?

Something we haven’t done much of, but I remember from family nights during my childhood, is making and drinking milkshakes. We had a fancy milkshake maker and my dad would think up the best combos! Need to add milkshake fixings to my shopping list ASAP :)

XO, Rae

PS – for those that are curious, my jumpsuit is from topshop and poppy’s dress is alice and ames

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SUNDAY AT LAKE UNION, SEATTLE

Want to hear something crazy? I’ve lived in the Seattle area most of my life and have never been to Lake Union — at least not that I can remember — yet it’s so close to everything. The Center for Wooden Boats (where we spent most of our time exploring on Sunday) in South Lake Union was so fun and charming! We had a great time looking at and touring the boats, walking along the docks and playing in the water. Johan, who’s family is from Norway and Sweden, said it reminded him of his visits there and even smelled like his family summer beach home. Not positive, but I think I was more excited about the connection than he was, lol. Can’t wait to one day take our kids to visit. Can’t you just see them fitting right in?

Now back to our much more local outing… It was a little stressful keeping Poppy and Griffin from falling off the dock. They probably would have been just fine regardless of my reminders and nagging but I think I said, “walk in the middle of the dock or hold my hand” about 100 times while we were there. Not that they wouldn’t have been okay had they fallen in (we were so close!) but who wants to deal with the chaos and trauma and a soaking wet child on a not-so-hot day. Not this mama.

Borderline too many pics from our afternoon below, but couldn’t get enough of the setting and all the lines! Would make a great spot for a family photo sesh.

I am not a boat person, but left really wanting a boat.

On our way to the lake we stopped at the store and grabbed some snack-y picnic-y food. The second we found a good grassy spot near the boats that also had a playground, it also started raining. I should be used to it by now but am always spoiled by our summer weather and forget! Luckily we found a little undercover patio that wasn’t being used so were able to save the food from getting soggy (YAY!). Checkout the set up while I was making the tray of food though (HA!). Tilly with her raincoat trying to cover the grub.

Also checkout the Griffin pic in the window below… he was so excited and proud of his artistic idea and I love it too.

These little paddle boats were a big hit! $3 for 10 minutes of playtime.

We were also able to take a tour of this amazing house boat built in the early 1900’s, called the Lotus. So cool and inspiring. Seriously wanted to move in! Saved some of the videos from the day on the “Seattle” highlight on Instagram if you want to see.

A little peek of the Space Needle so you can see how close we were to the Seattle Center area which is next on our to-do in the city list.

For all the Seattlites and pacific northwesterners, what’s on your “playing tourist” to do list or fall bucket list? For everyone else, you should come visit us in the PNW!!! I just highly suggest booking sometime between July and October :)

XOXO, Rae

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A FALL BUCKET LIST + SOME CUTE CORDUROY

Happy 3rd day of fall!!!

Still mourning the end of summer (sorry fall, but summer is my boo) but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to fully enjoy all of the fall activities. And of course wear all the sweaters and corduroy. Our schedule is packed with soccer and football on weeknights and weekends already so I’m a little nervous about fitting even half of this in. Definitely up for the challenge tho… we’re going to have to get creative with our scheduling!

OUR FALL BUCKET LIST

DECORATE FOR FALL + HALLOWEEN | this is a no-brainer but deserves a spot on the list…. mostly so I can check it off right away :)

GO FOR A SCENIC DRIVE +/OR ROAD TRIP | and maybe put together a scavenger hunt or eye spy activity for the drive? We have a visit to our family cabin on the calendar in November and I’ve been wanting to spend a day or two in Portland, OR too!

PERFECT OUR APPLE + PUMPKIN RECIPES | this is a no pressure one plus I’ll have lots of willing helpers!

THE PATCH + CORN MAZE | heading to the patch (probably more than a couple times) is a family tradition, but this year the kids are also earning tickets for a corn maze outing and I can’t wait!

CRAFT WITH LEAVES | because is there anything better than fall leaves!? Have you guys seen this bit by Jim Gaffigan? So funny.

GO ON A HIKE OR TRAIL WALK | one of the things we didn’t checkoff our summer bucket list that’s just as easy to do this time of year.

GO APPLE PICKING | or squeeze some cider!

PLAN A TAILGATE BEFORE ONE OF OZZIE’S GAMES | getting the most out of game days over here!

PLAN A HALLOWEEN MOVIE NIGHT FOR THE KIDS + THEIR FRIENDS | can’t you just see a family room full of cozy kids in their jammies snacking on kettle corn and a pumpkin spice milkshake?

    

Already judging my outfits, LOL. Actually I had my hands in my pockets so she was looking for hers and ended up having to twist her skirt around — it was so cute. Made me laugh!

MY OUTFIT | corduroy pants (excuse the pleats, lol), white tee (only $14), bandana (love these), sandals

POPPY’S OUTFIT | corduroy skirt, pink tee, native shoes

What would you add to the list? Also, what are your favorite movies to watch this time of year!?

XO, Rae

PS – stumbled across our fall bucket list from a couple years ago… made me tear up!

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POSITIVE PARENTING + A TICKET JAR!!!

“Parent your child’s heart, before their behavior” is one of the best pieces of parenting advice I’ve ever received. The sentiment behind it is that our hearts are really the driving force for why we do what we do. For instance, if one of the kids comes home from school and has a meltdown because she can’t find her favorite soccer socks for practice, chances are the root of the problem isn’t the socks… unless they’re two or three. And then it’s probably just the socks. Anyways, maybe not the best example, but hopefully you get the idea. The problem is that while we’re helping our kids sort through their experiences and feelings, we also need them to be active and cooperative participants of the family operations throughout the day. You know, things like getting their shoes on, finishing their food and clearing their plates, doing their bedtime routine within a certain timeframe… can you tell my kids have a tendency to take their sweet time, lol? And it can be so easy to nag them about all of the above which is exhausting and you know they are gifted with selective hearing anyways soooooo we’re fighting a losing battle. What is a mom to do?

Well, I mentioned in this instagram post last week, one thing that’s been working for me is using positive statements and asking questions like, “what else do you need to do before we leave for the bus?” instead of, “I’ve reminded you three times already… BRUSH YOUR HAIR!” Ha! For a younger kid it might sound something like, “how quick can you find your shoes?” or “if you put your shoes on, can I tie them for you?”. It works wonders you guys but there is one other way that we’ve found to motivate our kids towards being sweet, helpful members of the fam bam and that is through an incentive jar.

Here’s how it works: I bought 4 rolls of these carnival tickets (love the smiley faces), one color for each of the younger kids and then set out a glass jar for them to stuff their earned tickets into. Once the jar is full they earn, as a group, a fun family activity. The child with the most tickets get’s to bring a friend along. This way they end up competing (in a friendly way) with each other but also working towards a common goal.

The kids get tickets for things like: making their beds, doing chores, being kind/inclusive/helpful, cleaning up after themselves, making it to the bus on time, getting ready for bed “on time”, getting in the car when I ask, good problem solving, showing leadership, working hard at homework or reading and any other qualities or habits we want to encourage!

They aren’t allowed to request getting a ticket for something, but if they feel like I’m slacking on giving them out then they’re allowed to bring it to my attention in a nice way. They are also allowed to give each other a ticket if they see something their sibling is doing well. So far (thankfully!) we haven’t had any cheaters or scammers.

We recently celebrated their first full jar with a trip to the fair! Our hope in the future is to all go together, but Espen wasn’t able to miss school because of track so we made other plans for him and a friend since he earned the most tickets.

Over the weekend the kids started filling the jar for a second time and are working towards a trip to a corn maze. It’s a much less expensive but time sensitive outing since they only run through October so I’m excited to be extra generous with giving out tickets!

What I love most about this incentive program is that it still works even when we aren’t able to be consistent or it just falls off our radar for a couple days — there’s no need to catch up, find allowance money or keep anything but tickets stocked. We just pick up where we left off.

Although I have been known to pack a few strips of tickets and a ziplock anytime we are gone for a night or two, LOL.

Do you guys have a reward system that works for you?

What is the best parenting advice you ever received?

XO, Rae

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