Archive | LIFE

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

LIVING IN LOUNGEWEAR + WHY I BLOG + GRAM

This post was originally supposed to be about cute loungewear and how to wear it out of the house without feeling frumpy (tip: a structured jacket works wonders) but my mind is on something else right now and I’m feeling compelled to share with ya.

Recently someone asked (with a strong tone of disapproval) why I blog and post to social media and while I honestly understand their negative perception — because I do love documenting my family, cute clothes and good design. All things that are easy to label “superficial” or “braggy” — there is truly so much more behind my reason, purpose and intention for being in this online space. So if you are interested in the longer, deeper and more drawn-out “why” behind rae ann kelly, keep reading…. (I’ll be sure to link outfit sources below too, lol.)

I share because I’ve been a single, working, stay at home and work from home mom at different points in my life and guess what? It’s all hard. Like, so hard.

I share because we are in this together and can do more together.

I share in hopes of pointing to Jesus and His unwavering grace and love in my life. I am who I am and do what I do because of Him.

I share because I believe as moms (no matter our child’s age) we have incredible influence and the power to contribute SO MUCH good into our world, communities and culture.

I share because I know all too well how quickly it goes. (Stop growing kids!!!)

I share links and companies I love because providing, stocking up on and purchasing things for our families is part of the job description. And besides, it’s so much more fun (and less overwhelming) to “shop” with friends.

I hope my ideas and sources add heaps of function, fun and style to your day-to-day… because, YOLO.

I hope what I share helps you feel free to love and take care of yourself more so you can love and take care of your loved ones more.

I hope my posts and photos inspire you to play more, dance more, celebrate more, love more, giggle more, say yes more and be present more because it’s truly life giving and sanity saving — especially on those never ending days.

I hope my content reminds you that you are enough times 1,000 (because you are!).

I hope my chats about life and family and love and clothes and free printable helps you pursue what you want most in this crazy, beautiful, exhausting, and sacred journey of motherhood.

I hope you know that you have the power to create the kind of life you want, to raise amazing humans and to leave the mom-guilt and the haters behind so you can do you (boo-boo)!

So really, I’m here to help. Like a big sister or spirit guide (lol! watched 17 again earlier this week!). Sure I love having a place to document my family and the sponsored posts, paid content and growing online community is amazing. I don’t take a single outing, new project, follower or work opportunity for granted and am endlessly appreciative for your encouragement and presence in this space. I just want to make sure you know, my heart is to serve, encourage and love on you. Always.

XOXO, Rae

MY OUTFIT | sweat set, jacket (similar), tote (in brown), shoes

15

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

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

FAMILY UPDATE (AUGUST EDITION)

Welcome to my favorite time of year — SUMMALL!

That transition between summer and fall where we get to mix things up. Shorts on the bottom, long sleeves on top. Sipping on a PSL with the sunroof open. Cooler mornings and nights which makes it safe to turn the oven on and bake cookies or climb under the covers and watch netflix. It’s a sweet spot for sure.

Next week I’m going to share 3 ways to style your summer dresses and rompers for fall (sign up for emails so you don’t miss out!) but this week I thought I’d do a random little life and family update. Here’s a few tidbits…

OZZIE | has been busy with football practices and eating alllll the things. Earlier this week I brought him half of a giant watermelon and a starbucks bag full of food to snack on in-between practices and he said it was the perfect amount, lol. I’m afraid for our costco bill this month but it’s all for a good cause. Deff want my boy big, strong and healthy when he steps onto that field for games! Speaking of which, his first scrimmage is tonight and I can’t wait to be back in bleachers watching him play! It’s my happy place. (hashtag sports mom)

ESPEN | just shared his birthday interview if you missed it! We’re finishing up his back to school clothes shopping on Sunday along with Oz and his adorable girlfriend and I’m excited to see  what else he picks out. Having help from two high schoolers I think will help. He’s also feeling so ready and excited to start middle school which makes me so proud but also want to cry like a baby, ha!

TILLY | has never been into dolls or playing house but recently became obsessed with the idea of babysitting and I’ve loved seeing her nurturing side come out a little when we are around little ones as well as with Poppy this summer. She also started soccer a couple weeks ago with Johan and me as her coaches… we’ve only had one practice because of bad air quality from wildfires but it should be an interesting season!

GRIFFIN | has been busy building legos. Just bought him this book and he loves it! Makes it so easy to build cool things without having to buy a $50 set :) He’s also looking forward to starting soccer in September and suits up every time the older kids have a practice or skills training sesh. It’s amazing.

POPPY | shared a pic on Instagram of her the other day while simultaneously helping her look for a toy I donated last week… DID YOU SEE IT? She’s been full of personality and funny sayings (wish I was better about writing them down) and is talking non-stop about taking a ballet class, wearing ballet outfits and shoes and doing her “practice moves”. She’s also been climbing into bed with us EVERY NIGHT for the last month. It doesn’t make for the best sleep but I secretly love it.

JOHAN | has been working so, so hard on his mental health and it seriously has been a game changer for our marriage and family. So insanely proud at how far he’s come and have been loving every minute with the sweet man I married. Takes everything in me not to make out with him 24/7. Our friend Collin Henderson has been a huge resource and inspiration (checkout his web site!) and we recently found the Rise Together Podcast and can’t get enough!

ME, RAE! | getting ready to send a new senior, middle schooler (6th grade!), 4h grader and 1st grader to school has literally been giving me anxiety over the weirdest things. Guess I don’t love change (the forced kind) and I see it coming so quickly…. You can just call me EMO for the next month or so. On the flip side I’m excited to start working on my fall bod (read: regular workouts so I can consume allll the PSL’s). I’ve been using the SWEAT app for awhile now (although inconsistently this summer) and cannot recommend it enough. Also, listening to Zoe Worship on repeat! Just what we need for the morning hustle once school starts.

  

OUTFIT | top from madewell (the prettiest pattern and is on sale but size down at least 1 size! usually wear a small in tops but am wearing an xs and could prob do a xxs), shorts from nordstrom or shopbop, shoes from madewell, hat from nordstrom, bag from asos (love this one)

If you guys would be interested in seeing more of the up close and personal parts of our blended family, marriage, having teenagers, and parenting, please let me know in the comments!

Happy Fridayyyyyyyyy.

XO, Rae

PS – I’m in the process of putting together mommy and me morning affirmations for BTS or Back to fall — stay tuned… and sign up for emails!

 

8

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

FAMILY TRAVEL: CORVALLIS, OR

I have a few back to school posts I’ve been working on this week, but first wanted to be sure and catch up on sharing summer adventures. Aside from a couple videos we’re still editing, I think our trip to Corvallis, OR for a baseball tournament last month and home to Oregon State University — and was very similar to WSU in Pullman, WA where Johan and I met so naturally we were smitten! Guessing we’ll forever be suckers for small college towns.

The majority of our time was spent at baseball games, but we also found a few local gems… more details below!

In a packing tips post awhile back I suggested packing accessories for the kids (like hats, purses, handkerchiefs, etc.) and you’ll see why in the pictures below… Sometimes they make the best toys or activity starters!

Thankful for a couple DM’s from Instagram friends who suggested we visit tried and true coffee. Such a yummy spot! And that bottom pic is my favorite.

The pizza place we tried (which wasn’t suggested), however was not a win. I rarely share when I have something bad to say about a particular brand or place, but I can’t help myself with this one. American Dream Pizza had everything going for it. The design, cute name, atmosphere… and roof top seating, yes please! But the pizza was bad. Like frozen pizza would have been better. And it’s not like it was a busy night and we were served an overcooked or undercooked pizza – that wasn’t the problem. It was just not very good. The kids didn’t even enjoy it… and they don’t have much of a standard when it comes to pizza pie.

That being said, it was fairly busy and most people eating seemed like locals maybe we are just super picky? Or maybe my expectations have changed since college. The group of girls at the table next to us, celebrating a 21 run didn’t seem to mind :)

I was sold on this place when I saw the picnic tables and read “pizza” on the sign, but then we couldn’t resist eating on the rooftop so moved up there. Wish the pizza was as good as the view!

Johan in his element just taking it all in. Espen being silly.

Can you spot Oz in the bottom two pics? He’s such a man child! It’s impossible for me to watch him play on a big field without thinking about his t-ball and little league days. Sacred stuff mamas! I know it’s a lot to haul kids and their gear and all the siblings around to sporting events or other activities but you will remember all the best parts about it. Trust me.

Finding the farmer’s market and walking trail was a happy surprise!

The only other place we were told to go was Benny’s Donuts which we failed at, lol, but inspired us to DIY the experience at home, HERE!

Stay tuned for BTS goodies next week!

XO, Rae

PS – are we Instagram friends yet?

PPS – shared a bubble recipe video and the secret ingredient is glycerine… who knew?!

0

BLUEBERRY PICKING AT THE RUSTY PLOW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming ;)

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

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

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

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

XO, Rae

0

HOW TO LIKE CAMPING, FROM A NON-CAMPER

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

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

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

5 WAYS TO TO MAKE CAMPING MORE ENJOYABLE:

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

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

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

XO, Rae

2

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

0