Archive | KIDS

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

0

COTTON CANDY, ROLLER COASTERS + GAMES OH MY!

I might not have gotten their rain boot memo, but I definitely caught their carnival bug. It might be cliche, but there is something extra special about experiencing things with kids. They get excited about the best stuff and everything at the fair, from walking thought the barns of animals to hopping on rides to trying to win a stuffy at a game booth, is such a big deal. Makes it hard not to get lost in the magic.

We usually try to keep our fair outings to a pretty tight budget. This time however, the kids had been working towards a fair trip by earning tickets all summer so we went all out and it felt really good to be able to say yes to just about anything (with the exception of wanting to stay longer, lol).

We took little video clips of our outing on my iPhone and Johan strung them together in a quick video… press play below! Also shared a few budget friendly fair tips and tricks at the bottom of the post… because who wants to drop $100+ at the fair when there’s a cute pair of shoes you’ve had your eye on :)

Tilly really wanted to go on the swing ride but was super nervous about it so I offered to go with and then acted super brave like their was nothing to worry about. I honestly thought she was going to bail on me right before the ride started. However, the second it got going, Tilly was loving it (can you spot her above!?) and I was the one holding on for dear life, lol. At one point Tilly (who had obviously noticed my sudden change of demeanor and stomach turning) yelled over to me, “MOM! If you’re scared, just close your eyes!” Gah! My little girl that used to run-off any chance she got and tackle people during library reading time, was looking out for me… definitely a full circle kinda moment. Gosh I love her!

Thankful that these three were mostly happy with the little kid rides (winninggggg!)! Although, Poppy was not a fan of the mouse rollercoaster… did you spot her expression on the video as they were getting off?

Tilly’s been all about the Instax lately. A great kid gift idea… say cheese!

I’ve been thinking about getting the kids disposable cameras to use for special occasions. Can’t remember the last time I developed film but definitely remember what a fun surprise it was to see how the pictures turned out!

The games were a huge hit this time around. They kept trying to win the giant stuffed animals, but in the end their blow up hammers (a guaranteed win) were their favorite. They are currently banned from the house and have been mostly played with on the trampoline, but I can’t wait until they pop, LOL.

Happy Monday!!!

XO, Rae

PS – I got a few questions about budget friendly fair trips so here are a few tips… 1. spend lots of time with the farm animals. 2. do the research and take advantage of the free play areas AND shows. Any magic or juggling performers are usually a big hit with my kids. 3. eat a big meal before you get to the fair! 4. let the kids know what to expect (i.e. they can pick one treat to share like cotton candy and how many rides/games they get to pick, etc.) — I’ve found when the kids were younger and even poppy now, that you can get away with doing/not doing just about everything (LOL) and their admission is free so it’s actually a really good time to go!

3

A MONTH OF SCHOOL LUNCHBOX IDEAS + PRINTABLE NOTE CARDS

YOU GUYS!!! It’s the first TGIF of the bts season and it honestly feels so amazing. Lots of emotions and excitement around our home since the kids started on Wednesday. Espen and Tilly basically poured themselves into bed last night around 8:30PM and fell asleep before Johan + I made it to their bed for prayers and back tickles. They are also the two kids who have experienced the most change this year and that seems to be overwhelming and exhausting. So hard to watch them feel “out of place” but I also know that it’s going to be such a great year for both of them!!!

In other news, there are some really cute and simple lunchbox notes (that can also be used for just about anything!) I made for the kids that you can download below AND this morning I kicked off a “what’s in the lunchbox” or “WITL” (ha!) post on Instagram Stories. I’ll be sharing what the kids are taking to school for lunch on the daily (minus wednesdays) in hopes that it’ll encourage me to be better about not wasting food while also keeping things stocked to make packing easier. I’m sure there will be many basic lunch days and some that look more like cafeteria money, but nonetheless, I think it’s going to be fun! Already got lots of messages back about it (you can see my intro here — will also add to a “lunchbox” highlight) so I’m thinking it might even turn into a thing and we can do it together!

(YESTERDAY’S LUNCH | TJ’s meatballs, carrots + ranch, string cheese, apricots, TJ’s spud crunchies (Griffin loves these… they look like french fries), TJ’s sparkling apple juice (sparkling water + juice mix = less sugar!).

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD, LUNCHBOX NOTES PDF | the cards are 3.5″ x 5″, download and print onto card stock or text weight paper, cut along dashed lines, add your message and slip into a backpack or lunchbox! Could also be used for thank you or teacher notes.

How do you feel about packing lunch!? Aside from mornings that we’re short on time, I really enjoy packing lunches!!! It’s the grocery list making and shopping that I dread (save me)… Wondering if I’m in the minority?

XO, Rae

4

5 MOM HACKS FOR WINNING BACK TO SCHOOL MORNINGS

My kids are heading back to school TODAY (ahhhh!) and while there is so much to love about summer break, one of the things I’m really going to miss is our slow mornings. Not sure we left the house or had to be ready before 10am more than half a dozen times all summer long and with 6am wake up call happening this morning, I’m realizing just how spoiled we were, LOL. Because my kids have varied sleep and waking habits and because this isn’t our first back to school experience, I’ve been prepping myself for some challenging mornings and thought I’d share a few things that have worked for us in the past in case you have a non-morning person or just want to have a little more fun in the mornings. I tried to keep them all really simple too since the last thing anyone needs in the morning is a longer to do list!

5 TIPS FOR A HAPPIER (BACK TO) SCHOOL MORNING

  1. For a special treat, add sprinkles to (almost) everything. Waffles, pancakes, cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, etc. It’s the perfect pick-me-up on the first day or  after a long week of early mornings!
  2. Outfits they can easily layer and that are comfortable too. Like these dresses from plain jane for the girls (BONUS: we’re teaming up with them for a giveaway today on Instagram!) and these joggers and tees for the boys.
  3. Share morning affirmations! We started doing this last spring randomly in an effort to calm some anxiety one of the kids was dealing with and it was so helpful for all of us. Planning to do it more consistently this year.
  4. Put a little surprise in their backpacks or lunch boxes… a piece of gum, a little note, or an activity for the bus ride will do the trick and is a great motivator for getting out the door so they can take a peek :)
  5. Make sure to add enough time in your morning routine to include a snuggle sesh, dance party, chit-chat or anything else that de-stresses and reconnects you… it has after all (God willing) been a lot of hours since you’ve been together so kids often need their buckets filled once they wake up!

  

The girls are wearing the sweetest, comfiest and most versatile play and sleep dresses by Plain Jane… giving away shop credit to on Instagram today! See details below!

  

Music is also usually on in the mornings and is also one of my favorite parts of starting the day (other than coffee of course!) — sometimes we blast worship music and other times rap, hip-hop or country!

What’s your favorite part of early mornings?

Let me know in the comments and then head to my instagram account, click on the pic that looks most like an image from above, follow the directions in the caption (promise it’s easy) and be entered to win shop credit to Plain Jane for you and one of your friends!!!!

XO, Rae

2

BOYS SHARED ROOM REVEAL (WITH LOTS OF LINKS + DIY’S)

The boys room has been a work in progress for the last several months after we moved both of the bunk beds out, replaced them with twin beds and painted the walls in a fun color block blue-green and white. As I’ve shared little peeks of the rooms I’ve gotten lots of questions and thought it would be a good idea to share all the details and sources here. A lot of the decorative items have been collected over the last few years so I don’t have links to everything (sorry), but did my best.

Keep scrolling for links and let me know if I missed anything!

WALL COLOR | The blue is distant valley by Valspar and was inspired by light blue no. 22 by  farrow and ball. The white is simply white by benjamin moore.

COLOR BLOCK PAINTING | I saved a little DIY tutorial on Instagram Stories when we painted the room and saved it under “home projects”. Johan (my hubby) is so good at painting straight lines… you’ll love his tips!

Everyone loves this space, but especially the boys so that’s a win in my book! There are a few updates I’d still like to do (like a bigger rug and some more framed baby and family pics) but otherwise happy with how it turned out… feels put together but not overly decorated if you know what I mean? Also can’t wait to layer their bed up with cozy throw blankets and maybe a few floor pillows too.

ROOM SOURCES | vintage flag is 5×3 ft. found on etsy | red lock box from IKEA (old) | duvet covers from IKEA (old) | bed frame from IKEA (couldn’t find online) | lion head from Target | navy striped bin from Target | cute sheets (sold out but love these stars!), pillow cases + eye pillow (similar) from crate & kids | rug is old from crate & kids | drum light shade from color cord company | wanderer pillow isn’t available yet (but I’ll keep you posted), by a new company I’ve been  working with | truth pennant from she reads truth (sold out but they have cute prints) | arrow hooks are old but love these | dinosaur photo by Jenny’s Print Shop and printed at Costco | frames are ribba from ikea

BARN DOOR | hardware from amazon | door from home depot | still need to buy a handle (I like this one for $10) | HERE’S a helpful youtube tutorial that Johan referenced

We spent under $100 (we had paint already) which I was happy and surprised by, but it took a few days to finish the steps which also surprised me… just a fair warning, it was a process.

A FEW NOTES FROM JOHAN:

1. We bought a door at home depot that would cover the entire opening width wise.  I think we went with 32″.  The door was obviously too short as it was designed to fit into the original space height wise.  So we needed to add a few inches.  We added 1.5″ to the top and bottom.  If you don’t have access to a table saw, they should be able to rip a 2×4 according to size.  Just find out the depth and width of your door so each piece if flush to the top and bottom.  Once you have the header and footer cut to exact measure, place the pieces and door on a smooth flat surface and use wood glue to secure them together.  Let them sit over night.  I even placed a couple of screws in each piece for added strength.  Before painting the door, I used a little drywall mud to smooth out the cracks so you wouldn’t notice the lines.  Let that dry for several hours and then you are ready to paint.
2. Install the headboard above the trim.  Use a nice smooth piece of wood long enough to cover the distance of the track which is 6 1/2 feet.  We chose a piece that looked just like out trim.  When adding this trim you will need to adjust the brackets on the door.  I added to pieces of trim that were cut to the size of the brackets.  These pieces were roughly the same depth of the trim above the door and will help keep the door from sticking out too far.  We also glued these pieces to the door, make sure they sit overnight.
3.  Follow the instructions that come with the barn door hardware for installation.  See the images from the amazon website or follow on youtube.  This is also a useful video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hhrBgLhFB4

DIY BASKETBALL HOOP | we had a hoop rim from an old set but here’s a foldable plastic rim and a metal one that doesn’t fold up

THE DIY FROM JOHAN: Purchase a basketball hoop for rim and hardware and create your own backboard.  cut a piece of wood to your desired size.  We went with 18 x 24″.  Paint the backboard with chalkboard paint.  Tape a border around the edge.  We went 1 inch inside.  Re-paint same color to seal line.  Then paint your desired color for the border.   Mount the hoop on the lower middle of board.  Install the same way it was installed to orignal back board.  The mount entire unit to wall.  Use drywall screws.  Use 1 screw in each corner.  Remove screws and take down backboard.  Now inert wall anchors in the 4 holes you created.  Re-fasten and enjoy.

BOOK BIN DIY | We made this years ago and love it. Shared the DIY HERE!

Hoping the barn door will soon have some photos, notes and kid art taped to it!

Most of the boys toys are hidden under their beds (we have 4 big “under bed” bins) and in the closet. Most of the “put together” lego sets are displayed in the closet on the top shelf… I’ll be doing a tour of everyone’s closets next week once school starts so if your curious to see and we aren’t Instagram friends yet, head here to join the fun!

Also shared a behind the scenes look and before and after of the boys room before taking these pics for the post today on Stories and saved to “home projects” in the meantime… just have to skip through the room painting DIY to see it :)

Let me know what you think, if you have any questions or other input! If you’re refreshing kid rooms in your home right now, THIS POST might be helpful. Loads of good ideas in the comments too!

Happy weekend!

XO, Rae

2

5 THINGS EVERY KID’S PARTY NEEDS + POPPY’S 4TH BIRTHDAY BASH

My goal with this online space is to always keep things functional and doable with a heaping side of style and fun. I believe it’s important to celebrate motherhood and family (the big and small things) but not at the sake of my sanity or relationships. A stressed out mom is no fun for anyone! Even if it’s all for a good cause, like say, Birthday parties. Considering the endless amount of pinterest-y photos, it can be easy to feel completely inspired to throw a picture perfect party and I so admire the mamas that can pull it off and enjoy the process (teach me your ways!), but in my experience attempting to do so is not very practical for my bank account or my life and only makes everyone cranky. In an effort to keep things simple but also special, here’s my short list of kid party must-haves that make the day of festivities so much easier along with a few pics from Poppy’s 4th Birthday party a couple weeks ago!

I would also really love to know what would make your must have kid-party list!

MY 5 KID PARTY MUST-HAVES

  1. BALLOONS | any and all balloons welcome because they add instant party vibes and are an inexpensive way to decorate. Sometimes I make a bundle of helium filled balloons and other times we grab a few packages from Target to blow up and throw around the party space for the kids to kick, hit and play with. Love these letter and word foil hanging balloons (here’s a gold version – party city also carries them) we used for Poppy’s party that don’t require helium (saves money) and doubled as a good photo backdrop…. festive, decorative and personalized! Rainbow pom-pom garland is from Target and will get used over and over again!
  2. ACTIVITIES | I mean, what good are decorations if the party goers aren’t having fun!? We were lucky to have the beach and water for endless entertainment but since the weather wasn’t that good we also put together a slime making station (Tilly’s idea and it was a huge hit!) and a “pin the sprinkles on the POP-TART” game (using a big chalkboard and paper ‘sprinkles’) which I forgot to snap a pic of and didn’t get played with, lol. There are lots of good games out there and you can’t go wrong with activity tables (so kids can participate when they feel like it). I’m a sucker for all the old school ones such as scavenger hunts, relays, duck-duck-goose, bobbing for apples, musical chairs, and anything that involves freezing :)
  3. SIMPLE BUT YUMMY FOOD | same goes with food as activities… if kids (or their parents) are hungry or you’re stressing out in the kitchen, does anything else even matter? I like to have a variety of finger foods and kid friendly snacks and then plan a crowd pleasing meal that I can either make or prep ahead of time (i.e. hamburgers + hot dogs, or anything that bakes in the oven or crockpot) or order (i.e. pizza) and for sides, anything that comes from a bag (i.e. salad and chips!). Bonus if I can get ALL OF IT at Costco which is how it worked out for Poppy’s party. Even the cake and drinks.
  4. ANYTHING THAT IS A BIG DEAL TO THE BIRTHDAY KID | maybe it’s a special theme or activity, but whatever it is I try to make it happen. Poppy didn’t have any requests this year but for Tilly it’s usually a cake request and special party favors, Ozzie was always about having his favorite foods, Espen wants to make sure certain friends can make it and Griffin LOVES a piñata.
  5. PARTY FAVORS | I usually go overboard with this because I love goodie bags and containers and helping the kids pick things out! But really a wand of bubbles and hand drawn signs are all you need to say “THANK YOU FOR COMING!”

(SOURCES | blue berry basket for the favors, kraft food boat, 1/2 lb size pictured)

Look at all these cute party animals!!! So thankful for all the sweet faces in this pic and their parents. We had so much fun celebrating Poppy!

Now, please spill all your tips, tricks and must haves for making birthday party magic… What would make your list?

XO, Rae

3

ESPEN IS 12 + A Q&A

A few days ago upon arriving at the spash pad in a neighboring town, I overheard a girl say, “What is Espen doing here!?” to her friends — and then they all grabbed towels and huddled in a spot where they could observe and chat and giggle. So I think it’s safe to say we’ve arrived at the awkward, innocent and still so, so sweet stage of middle-school-hood. Or tweenager as it’s often referred to where their world is getting big but they are still very much young. I’ve learned by now not to say it’s my favorite stage – because they’re really all my favorite — but I love it, for it’s highs and lows and purpose — it makes me tear up how each stage of childhood weaves together – none any more or less important. Just wish it didn’t all fly by so fast!

It’s been so much fun doing our interview video series the last few months and I’m excited to share Espen’s below! Feels a little bit like we are bottling them up at these specific ages each time I watch them. This interview surprised Johan and me the most… it’s always the quiet ones, LOL!!! Press play to find out what Espen (the introvert of the fam) likes and dislikes about being 1 of 5 kids, who he get’s along with most, and what some of his favorite things are.

Love so much that our very consistent and predictable child was so unpredictable with his answers. You may also notice my question about his favorite sport and needing to know his runner up too… Johan and I have a quiet competition going – both of us sneakily wanting our kids to love our favorite sport. So far Johan is blowing me out of the water with our two older boys being diehard baseball players, but I’m holding out hope for Tilly and Griff, lol! Truthfully we don’t really care, but it is fun to tease each other about it.

You can watch Tilly’s video HERE and Griffin’s HERE. Next up is Poppy and then Ozzie! Should probably do ones for Johan and me too. Let me know if the comments if you have any question requests or ideas!!!

A few pics from Espen’s birthday morning and our traditional breakfast in bed…

Birthday breakkies in bed are a big deal around here (because is there anything better than eating in bed?!). The kids almost always ask for crepes or donuts but this year Espen requested dutch babies with a side of fruit and scrambled eggs and I loved being able to make something different than our norm!

Almost as good as the B-day kids excitement for their special morning is seeing how excited their siblings get to make the morning special for them too. It’s definitely a family affair and the sweetest thing to watch! Hope it’s something they continue as the littlest ones get older and the bigger ones become young adults… I imagine them sneaking into each others apartments with balloons and donuts or showing up at their school with a fun treat. No pressure kids, LOL!

Espen, we love you to the moon and back times 100 and are so incredibly proud of who you are and how you love, lead and serve others. It’s pure magic to watch.

Do you guys ever daydream about your kids 10 or more years down the road!?

XOXO, Rae

2

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL PRINTABLE SIGNS + PHOTOGRAPHY TIP (A FREEBIE)

There are two things that get me through the back to school season 1. all the fun prep, shopping and planning that goes into starting a new school year (read: I love new clothes, lunch food and planners) and 2. football season. So I merged the two and made some festive but simple pennant flags for all the first day of school pics or daytime celebrations! There’s a link to download below along with the DIY and a BIG tip for taking first day pics too!!!!

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL FLAGS, DIY

You’ll Need:

  • THIS PRINTABLE TEMPLATE
  • dowels from the craft store or man store (they’ll cut them for ya!), ours are  18-inches
  • tape
  • OPTIONAL: tassels or other decorations (found some in a party bin I keep attached to a confetti balloon I bought from target :)

Here’s How:

Download, print onto card stock and cut the template along dashed lines. Tape to dowel and decorate. That’s it!

In my experience fanfare and celebration makes transition easier so whether you’re dreading BTS or ready for a little more structure, but aren’t sure how to get everyone up and moving in the morning, my best piece of advice is to make it fun and playful — blast the music, put sprinkles in their cereal, make time for extra snuggles, shake off the little setbacks (i.e. tantrums or missing shoes) and overflow with encouragement and no matter what, the morning will be a win — even if you’re late. Ha!

I find it’s best to let the kids’ teachers know what to expect every once in awhile anyways. (Love you so much teachers!!!)

MY BEST FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL PHOTO TIP: I rarely get a good first day pic with all the kids in it. There’s just so much going on and everyone is going at their own pace and feeling differently about starting a new year (some excited, some grumpy/anxious… so many feelings!) and the light isn’t very good by our front door in the morning either. Sooooo I usually find another time during the week to snap a few pics — maybe outside of the school or at the bus stop — I think sometimes when we see alllll the BTS pics and they allllllll mostly look the same we create a weird rule for ourself that our pics need to also look a certain way, so I just want to remind you that there is no perfect BTS pic! Use what you have, do what’s easy, wait for the dust to settle, take the pressure off to get it at a certain time or even a certain day :) and have fun!

Remember these snapshots are not just for Instagram or facebook even though you might be posting there, they are for you and your family to enjoy, keep and cherish and maybe even add to your chatbooks!!!!

Speaking of chatbooks, are you guys avid fans of the little photo albums or new to the club?

XO, Rae

7

DRESSING BIG BOYS (+ GIRLS TOO)

I’ve gotten a few questions about how and what I buy for the kids’ closets and since back to school is a month away (for us anyway), I’m guessing it’s because BTS shopping is on everyone’s mind. Yes? Well if so, I hope this post helps in someway! Just keep in mind that dressing the kids should be fun (not to be confused with getting a toddler to put on clothes) so if you find yourself overthinking things or fighting with the kids over it – abandon ship! Nothing in parenting is more important than your relationship with your kids. Not even if it looks like a unicorn puked all over them.

Most of the questions also had to do with dressing boys… with all the athletic gear and giant logos, it’s hard to keep them from looking like a walking billboard and I completely understand the frustration. Espen and Griffin (so far) are pretty easy regarding clothes, but Ozzie went through a long stage of only wearing nike or under armour. Now he dresses better than I do. So there is hope.

In the meantime, here’s my strategy!

75% OF THE TIME MY KIDS PICK THEIR OWN OUTFITS — and even on church days or family photo days, they always have the final say because uncomfortable kids are no fun to be around. Poppy prefers dresses and skirts and the older kids know the difference between play clothes and nice clothes so this set up works out pretty good for us. On certain days I’ll give a few suggestions or guidelines, but for the most part it’s all about the choices they have in their closet…. Most of the time you’ll see them in sweats and tees (it’s all about comfort!). Oh, and lots of pink and play dresses for Pop. At the moment, Tilly is our pickiest dresser and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Wrote a little bit about tit HERE.

WHEN IT COMES TO ATHLETIC CLOTHES — they need it for all the sports they play so we’ve got an abundance. I try to buy stuff that fits well (not too baggy and anything more structured is a bonus) and I’m a fan of matching sweatsuits and joggers too. Both options make athletic gear look less frumpy.

BALANCE IT OUT (the sporty or glittery) WITH BASICS — so they might not want to wear a polo shirt, but most boys I know are cool with a plain tee or sweatshirt which is a great way to balance out the basketball shorts and tights! Same goes for girls and over the top tutus (or fill in the blank). I’ve been stocking the kids’ closets with lots of  plain tees lately and it makes things so easy for all of us.

I SHOP SALES!!! — and mostly online too. Makes it easy to throw a few things in my cart and then ask the kids if they approve before buying — they always have the final say!

Speaking of sales, J.Crew Factory is having a 40% off sale right now (ends tonight). I bought a few things for the boys (ringer tees, these sweats (j.crew sweats never disappoint), this striped tee, henley’s in green and red (there’s a striped option too) and a couple plain tees. Also got Poppy this corduroy skirt (I’m very into corduroy lately!) and white bell-sleeve tee.

Other places I shop for the kids | Zara (they don’t do many sales but their prices are reasonable), Hanna Anderson for pjs, denim at the gap, peek kids (their sales are so good!), gymboree, and small shops like hen & co (25% off right now), childhoods, alice & ames or plain jane. Nordstrom and Macy’s are also go-tos for shoes and athletic gear especially. Tilly likes Zella Girl and there are usually good nike and adidas options for everyone too.

Way too cute to hide behind “Just do it” convo tees and frumpy sweats!

Kid approved!

(Pics from a month ago on a ferry ride to Whidbey island for the day — Oz and Tilly had both stayed behind with friends.)

In closing — as a style enthusiast and stylist by trade, I work really hard at trying not to care about what the kids wear or pick out for their back to school supplies (just prepping myself for the inevitable, ha!) and at the end of the day I’m just thankful that we have more than enough clothes and money for back to school shopping.

When I find myself caring too much, another thing that really helps is turning some of that attention towards myself which is the only thing I can really control — what I want to wear! Ha! “Worry about yourself” is something I say to the kids often and for sure need to hear myself sometimes.

What do you struggle most with when it comes to dressing the fam?

HAPPY BACK TO SCHOOL SEASON (insert crying emoji).

XO, Rae

PS – would you be interested in seeing more links and shopping posts in the future?

PPS – is it just me or when we were younger, was there more of a push to dress nicer for school, church, bday parties, events and outings with the fam? I always remember having “school clothes” and “play clothes” in my closet, but maybe that’s just how I was raised?

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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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MINI MAKERS: PAPER PLATE MONSTER BAG

In between all the summer adventures, we’ve had plenty of days just spent at home. At some point in the afternoon the kids will usually ask to make slime or a baked treat, but last week they asked about getting the craft supplies out and ended up making these really cute paper plate monster bags. The point of them is to be kinda messy, so it’s a good project for just about any age!

Curious to see if they’ll use them to hold their sunnies and ice cream truck money (lol), or if they’ll end up hanging on a hook somewhere as decorations but either way they were worth the craft mess (the best kind of mess) and a nice break from the sun and sprinkler in the backyard.

Supply list and how-to are below!

You’ll Need:

  • paper plates (dessert or dinner size works… we used both)
  • ribbon for straps
  • googly eyes (we used these)
  • pip cleaners (pictured are from target, but love these rainbow colored ones)
  • paint (finger or craft paint)
  • scissors
  • hot glue gun

Here’s How:

  1. Cut paper plates in half and let kids paint the bottom side of the plate (that doesn’t have the wax coating) with their fingers or paint brush. Let dry.
  2. Cut pipe cleaners into smaller pieces. Shape and glue onto painted area. Stick or glue eyes on too.
  3. Cut ribbon to size and hot glue to edge of a plate (see pic). Glue rimplates together and you’re done!

You can count on Poppy to be in a swimmer 75% of the time. 99% of the time if we’re at home :)

    

Happy when she’s making.

Paper plates, brown paper bags and toilet paper tubes are a few of my favorite craft supplies for the kids because we usually have them on hand — which also keeps our craft closet from getting too cluttered!

What do you usually reach for when the kids need to do a little project?

xoxo, Rae

PS – a couple other paper plate projects here and here.

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