Archive | LIFE

RAISING SELF SUFFICIENT KIDS + A DONUT OUTING

Teaching responsibility and self-sufficiency is one of the hardest parts of parenting for me. Everything from encouraging my kids to wipe their own bums and tie their own shoes to making their own lunches and scheduling their own appointments is messy, uncomfortable and requires loads of patience.

However, “SETTING OURSELVES + OTHERS UP FOR SUCCESS” is one of the 5 core values of our family and therefore, teaching and giving our kids opportunities to take responsibility for themselves and their lives has to be a priority. So I’ve been working on it and gosh it’s hard. Hard to figure out how to be supportive and present but not coddling and enabling. At least for me.

Recently we made a list of everyday teachable moments we’d like to take advantage of. Some of them are things we already do and others are ones we need to start doing but all of them are things we should be doing more of. Here’s what we came up with!

  1. Encouraging them to interact with other humans over the phone and in person – when eating out, ordering food (have them be the ones to call Papa Murphy’s!), checking out at a store, communicating with their coaches or making appointment. The more we rely on texting, apps and web sites, the more important I think this one is. It’s an easy one to implement but also an easy one (for me) to forget!
  2. Teaching them to cook solo, then give them jobs during meal prep like making scrambled eggs for breakfast, throwing together the salad for dinner or following the recipe for brownies and then being the one to serve dessert. Last week Tilly made everyone dinner, start to finish, including setting the table and it was magical! She was so proud and all the kids were excited to eat the pancakes and apple slices she had made. Bonus that it was so sweet to see everyone being supportive and appreciative too!
  3.  Giving them opportunities to make money and save for the things they want. There are always extra projects and chores around the house that we are willing to pay for. Every once in awhile they also have opportunities with the blog (like their gymboree photoshoot) that allow them to make money. Encouraging them to set up lemonade stands, sell cookies, etc is also a fun way to help!
  4. Instead of solving all their problems, answer their dilemmas and complaints with, “Gosh, that’s a bummer… What do you want to do about it?” or “Let me know how I can help” and other leading questions so they can problem solve but know we’re here if they need us. Also, a phrase we repeat often (that I read on a business website) “everything is figure-out-able” reminds them that they are capable!
  5. Keeping track of a calendar and advocating for their needs/requests. This one’s more for the older two since their schedules are busy, and they have smartphones and more freedom. The Cozi Family Organizer has been a huge help (thanks to our friends who recommended it!). It syncs with google calendar so the boys can see what we have going on each day, add their personal activities and put items on our shopping and to do list. No more telling me that they need to bring a box of toothpicks to biology next week, at 10pm on a Friday night… add it to the list! 
  6. Time management. This one is so tough since there is so much room for failure, especially for the kids that are less rigid. But I find that avoiding nagging, giving prompts and sparse reminders and allowing natural consequences (bummer but we don’t have time to make a water bottle, etc.) is effective (yet equally painful) at least for the older kids. I would love to try one of these watches for the younger two!

What would you guys add to the list!? 

Since eating out often brings teachable moments and opportunities for kids to converse with grownups and learn about finances (+ tipping!), I thought I’d share a few pics pics from our most recent donut outing. Side note: Poppy has most definitely nailed the “emo” kid editorial trend that’s happening right now, lol (see below).

Daddy pile!

Snapping pictures of all the details because I never want to forget their little lovies, stuffies, and other toys or accessories they bring with us on our adventures! Or their silly smiles.

Johan and I have been meaning to give Oz opportunities to practice paying bills, but aren’t quite sure how to go about it… any ideas, please share!

xo, Rae

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THAT TIME WE WENT SLEDDING


Not sure Poppy would agree with me (plenty of photo evidence below), but there are few things more magical than a snow day. Since there wasn’t any in the forecast this month or last, we decided to drive up to the mountains and I’m so glad we did!

Getting ready is the hardest part, ha! Also notice how often Poppy is missing a glove (or both). Johan and I had a long conversation on the drive home about how kids need gloves and boots that are attached to their snow gear because once things come off and get wet, it’s all over! Thankful that Hanna Andersson carries cozy one piece snowsuits in her size (4T). Couldn’t find either of them on the site, but Griffin’s star overalls and Tilly’s star jacket are on sale!


The rest of the crew did awesome in the snow… they usually do. We practically had to drag them off the sledding hill!

More tears from Poppy below… 4 has definitely been a hard age for her (emo to the max!)! It’s like it’s always the youngest kids job to make sure we don’t think we’ve figured out this whole parenting thing. Ha!

Thankful for her sweet and patient siblings. And Chardonnay.

These faces! I love them so much!

Can’t wait for a real snow day (the canceled school kind!) closer to home but luckily, living in the PNW, we don’t have to travel too far to find mountains and snow.

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A QUICK CHRISTMAS BREAK RECAP

OMGeee, it’s been way too long since the last time we chatted on the blog. I missed it. I missed you. And even thought it’s been a slow start to the new year around here it was a nice break. Plus our theme for Winter Break this year was “UNPLUGGED” which is way more easy to enforce with the kids when I’m not distracted by my own computer and smartphone :)

The kids were supposed to start school again today, but a storm and power outages means we get one last day hunkered down together at home… or actually the Y where we’ve been hanging out most of today playing with the kids, charging our phones and taking advantage of the wifi (and heat!)!

A few of my favorite pics Johan took of the kids while I finished getting ready for Christmas Eve service… they’re all pretty much the same but they’re also all my favorite for different reasons. Like the way Tilly is looking at Oz in the one below. Gah! Wish me luck picking one to frame!

  

I hope you guys had the most amazing Christmas break and New Year!!! So thankful for you and looking forward to doing life together this next year. SO MUCH FUN STUFF COMING UP!

Do you guys have a word, resolution or theme you’ve picked to focus on in 2019?

I’m decidedly undecided on anything and everything involving the new year ahead and have no idea what’s got me in this weird mood lately… Winter Blues maybe? Or just post Christmas Blues? I’m usually so ready and excited to kick things off! Over the weekend I even started looking into supplements that might help give me more energy and less of that blah feeling. If you have any recommendations, please share!

XO, Rae

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FAQ: WHAT’S IN OUR CAMERA BAG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

xo, Rae

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A HOLIDAY BUCKET LIST + PHOTOS FROM THE TREE FARM

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

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

25 THINGS TO DO IN DECEMBER

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

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

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

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

I guess we’re Charlie Brown tree kinda people.

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

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

Ran into our sweet friends and their snuggly dog too!

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

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

What’s on your holiday bucket list?

xo, Rae

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

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PHOTOS + A VIDEO FROM THE REINDEER FARM IN LEAVENWORTH

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


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

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

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

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

xo, Rae

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

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

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HAPPY (BELATED) THANKSGIVING + SO GRATEFUL

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

Thank you for being here.

For being part of our fam.

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

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

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

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

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

xo, Rae

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just like the good ol’ days, lol.

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

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

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

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

HA!

10 tidbits from my pregnancy + newborn stage with Oz:

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

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

Love you guys. Happy Thanksgiving week!

OX, Rae

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

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THOSE FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS + A FAMILY UPDATE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Weekend + Lots of Love!

XO, Rae

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SLIP DRESSES + SKIRTS FOR THANKSGIVING GET TOGETHERS

A couple weeks ago, Johan and I stayed a few blocks away from Pike Place at the Palladian hotel for an overnight date and had the best time. We kept things very low-key and tried a new restaurant, shopped at the market, dressed like grownups, drank coffee while it was still hot, talked about the kids, and laid in bed watching the today show just because we could. It was the perfect little break before the holiday rush and truly just what we needed to end an insanely busy month.

(Thanks to my dad for managing the kids and chaos while we were away!)

Getting a little dressed up for our date got me thinking about what to wear over the holidays, starting with Thanksgiving which is NEXT WEEK! (WHATTTT???!) So thought I’d share one of the pieces that will be my go-to over the next month or so — my silk slip skirt that I also wish I had as a slip dress and is sooooo easy to dress up or down and mix and match. As far as formal wear goes, it doesn’t get any better than that!

Linked to my skirt below along with a few other options that I also wish were in my closet and then shared a few ideas for mixing and matching too!

SLIP DRESSES + SKIRTS:

HOW TO WEAR IT:

  • pair or layer with a fitted top, tee or turtleneck (my personal fave)
  • graphic tees, oversized sweatshirts, sherpa pullover or a parka (layered over denim or a knit) adds a casual touch to a silky skirt for a less formal kinda day.
  • think texture! a chunky knit sweater with silk is the perfect mix.
  • with just about any kind of shoe… for reals.
  • by balancing the silk with a leather jacket or something men’s wear inspired like a blazer or topcoat.

 

The color of this building with the forrest green trim made me happy.

  

Thank you for our date night Johan!!! There is no one in this world I would rather do this life with…

He’s a hands-on-dad, a firefighter, special ops (which basically means he can rescue people from any sketchy situation), doesn’t mind helping out in the kitchen, takes amazing pictures, is diehard about the things he loves, and is a total babe.

Plus he plays along with just about anything I ask and thinks I’m funny.

I’m a lucky girl.

  

WEARING: tee in olive from madewell, leather jacket from nordstrom (and on sale for $52), skirt from free people, sneakers from madewell

My silky skirt was surprisingly comfy and warm enough while walking around town and has a hidden zipper that would be easy to adjust for turkey dinner, lol. Just need to be sure and bring an oversized sweater to throw on over the top!

Do you guys usually dress up or down for Holiday dinners and events? Would you like a few more outfit ideas!? Let me know in the comments!

XO, Rae

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

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

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

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

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

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

XO, Rae

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