Archive | KIDS

THINGS WE LOVE: CODING FOR KIDS WITH BITSBOX

There is so much to consider when making decisions about screen time for our kids and managing it is so hard sometimes! Thankfully not all screen time is created equal. Which is so important, especially as they continue in school where being able to navigate computers and tablets is a skill that’s so helpful to have. So when Bitsbox reached out to see if we’d be interested in letting the kids try out one of their boxes, I jumped at the chance. I mean, I need alllll the help and support and resources I can get in this area of parenting!

Tilly and Griffin were dying to dig into the box and start coding and thankfully the set up process  was painless (hallelujah). No software to download… Just open your browser, type in the website and create an account. It took 2 minutes.

Once they got started, it was so cool to see Tilly + Griffin connect the dots between what they were doing on my computer and all the apps and programs they use and play with. Which immediately lead to them discussing how to turn their little coding jobs into an actual app they could charge people for, lol.

(God save me if these two ever go into business together.)

When the code they entered didn’t work out how they planned, I also got to watch them check their work and do some troubleshooting (such an important skill in life!). Not only that, but they were even able to get creative and swap out words within the code to see if they could get the characters in the app to do different things (like smile, wink, or explode, lol). Hard to explain without showing you but hopefully it kinda makes sense! I’ll try and share a little on stories once the kids are home from school today.

    

Look how cute these coding cards are… Bitsbox seriously thought of everything!

I love that Bitsbox totally gets it! They’ve created a positive, educational and guilt-free tech product that us parents can feel GOOD about, that’s equally charming and so much fun for the kids.

Bitsbox was also sweet enough to offer us a coupon code… YAY! Planning on gifting subscriptions for Christmas and can’t wait!

Use code: RAEANN for $20 off any 3 or 12 month subscription (which is basically a free month/box!).

Another detail that might be important to know is that the recommended ages for the boxes is 6-12 :) Let me know in the comments if you have any questions. I’ll get back to you ASAP and will also answer on stories later today!

XO, Rae

0

BEST OF HALLOWEEN POSTS

I have a couple fun Halloween posts planned over the next couple weeks but also love so much of the Halloween posts from years past so thought I would round up some faves… It was hard to choose, but take a peek below and click on the links to head to the full post!

Still one of my favorite halloween posts and probably the oldest too!

Remember when we made Halloween headbands with the land of nod!?

Boo worthy Halloween snacks and lunch notes.

Need to print these out again to use this year.

Boo-ing — still one of my favorite October traditions!

These tattoos make a fun addition to any October playdates or classroom parties!

Must do this again this year too! Hoping those felt flags are stashed in the attic still.

This kid party is full of good inspiration.

Just bought this ghost cookie cutter to make yummy cookies and spooky shaped sandwiches too…it’s the little things you guys!

You can search “FALL” or “HALLOWEEN” in the search bar to the right to find more.

Here’s to the next few weeks being full of all things spooky (but still cute), snuggly, pumpkin-y, and yummy.

XO, Rae

2

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

0

THINGS WE LOVE: BEET WORLD + PAINTED FALL LEAVES

I love a good classic. Whether its a song, movie, meal or decoration, but more than anything I love a classic style and will often look for pieces to add to the kids’ wardrobes (and mine too). Problem is, classic styles are often stuffy and restrictive and have my kids pulling at their neck holes and itching to change into sweats. Enter Beet World, a local to Seattle, mom owned business that makes timeless dresses, tops, skirts and pants for girls that are also roomy and soft. A must for my girls who are active and prefer getting dirty and playing chase around the jungle gym to looking prim and proper.

Ashima, the mama behind Beet World, was sweet enough to send us a box of goodies for the girls and they loved all of it! Poppy didn’t waste anytime wearing one of her new dresses and then on Sunday they both wore a few of the pieces to church followed by a trip to the park and playground nearby.

The weather was beautiful so we decided to collect leaves to paint and check it off the fall bucket list!!!

  

TILLY’S WEARING this top and these cute pants

POPPY’S WEARING this blue stripe dress and this sweet dress in the Instagram pic

Everything washed well (hot cocoa even came out of Poppy’s light pink dress!) and  fit true to size. Tilly is wearing 9-10Y. Poppy wore size 3-4Y.

  

Luckily all the leaves were dry so after a little lunch, we started painting! The girls got creative, made self portrait leaves (the green eyed leaf is Tilly), added glitter and needed zero inspiration. I on the other hand took a quick peek at pinterest and found so many ideas!

Aren’t they cute (see below)!? Now we just need to decide how to display them… maybe a garland or taped to their bedroom doors?

Thank you for supporting the businesses and in this case, new friend and mama, that support this blog! Take a peek at the Beet World site and pick out a thing or two for all those pumpkin patch pics coming up. Also can’t wait to see what she comes out with for the holiday season! Hopefully it includes a plaid shirt like Tilly’s in my size :)

XOXO, Rae

2

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

1

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

3

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