Archive | PARENTING

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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OOTW, THROWBACK TRAINERS + PLAYING WITH GRIFFIN

The best thing to happen to motherhood since baby carriers and wet wipes has got to be the sneakers with everything trend. I mean, the ability to wear most items in your closet AND also be able to chase after or play with a kid or two is brilliant. I’m a fan of the chunky (slash ugly) trainer and have had my eye on this pair (in all leather) but can never find them in my size and color preference so snagged these reeboks instead which are more of a throwback than chunky but also less expensive and I love them! And the best thing to happen to this plain t-shirt is for sure, this cute camisole. I tend to feel overdressed in a silk top but the two together strikes a perfect balance and feels special without being too stuffy for all the glamorous things I do all day (i.e. target runs, grocery shopping, picking all the things up off the floor, carpool + dishes). Even better, ditch the tee and add a leather jacket for date night! (just got this one for under $100)

(All blue, head to toe! GRIFFIN’S tee from j. crew, adidas sweatshirt from amazon, joggers from rockets of awesome and new balance shoes are from j.crew.)

Gah! I love this hand holding, high energy boy so much! Last week Johan and I picked him up a few minutes early from school to surprise him with a quick fro-yo date. On the way home Johan mentioned on the car ride that he only had one week left of soccer so I followed up with a question about playing next year to which he answered — “I’m kinda thinking I’ll play football instead” — it’s the best, most exciting but also stressful thing when they grow up and start making independent decisions like that!!! My reply was of course one I thought would make him think hard — “Do you think you’ll be able to hit and tackle other kids?”  — and he replied, “I tackle dad all the time!”

Ok. You win Griff. I will always try my best (with loads of wisdom of course) to support your ambitions and dreams. But I will also be praying that I get to see you play soccer next fall, lol.

When you have more than one kid, it’s easy to encourage them to play with each other outside while you do something productive (pick weeds, sweep the porch, clean out the car). But spending time playing with Griff and a soccer ball reminded me how productive it is for our relationship which carries over into our day and home and feels so good. My own dad was really good at playing outside with us. Lots of basketball, riding bikes and going for runs together so I speak from experience how powerful it can be… it’s just too easy to forget sometimes!

So, here’s my official NOTE TO SELF:

play more catch. play more tackle. play more tag.

Does playing come naturally to you or is it something that requires more intention?

Now that the weather is getting chilly, I for sure need to be more intentional about it. I’m always so cold! Sometimes my todo list gets the best of me too… adulting is hard!

XO, Rae

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WE CAN DO HARD THINGS.

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

XO, Rae

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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

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POSITIVE PARENTING + A TICKET JAR!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the best parenting advice you ever received?

XO, Rae

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A DAY IN THE LIFE: 5 THINGS THAT MAKE OUR BEDTIME ROUTINE EASIER

Some nights (especially during the summer) we are carrying kids from the car into bed without tubs, jammies or brushing their teeth. Other nights, bedtimes are a full-blown process that I love and look forward to.  And then there are those nights every once in a while that I’m just really ready to be “off-duty”. That being said, I didn’t think our routine (or lack there of) would be all that helpful. So instead I thought I’d share the 5 things that we wouldn’t want to do bedtimes without! Would love to know what your must-haves would be, too!

1. A GIANT FAN IN THE HALLWAY – more often than not, the kids are all at different levels of tired when bedtime rolls around so the fan does wonders to muffle the noise coming from the more energetic or overly tired kids. So I usually turn it on once we are upstairs for bedtime until everyone is asleep and then plug it in once I get up in the morning until everyone is awake. We have the Patton three speed floor fan and keep it on the lowest setting — unless of course we’re using it to make a fort :)

2. ESSENTIAL OIL BEDTIME BLEND – Another thing I turn on as soon as we head upstairs is our diffusor! Wouldn’t say it magically makes my kids fall asleep, but it does help set the tone and smells delicious. My favorite bedtime oils are: lavender, wild orange, frankincense, cedarwood (if the kids have a stuffy nose or cough), and bergamot.

3. A BLUETOOTH SPEAKER & LULLABYS – I guess we need a lot of white noise in our house, lol, but it’s so nice to have soft music on and is another way to set the tone. We have an older version of this speaker (this is a good option too!) and then i usually play a lullaby mix on pandora.

4. AMAZING BOOKS – This is a given, but I think it’s also nice to stock up on books that non-reading kids can flip through (we love this hide and seek book) while they wait for you to be done tucking in someone else, etc.. Audio books are a good idea too!

  

Last but not least, it’s always good to have a running list of seemingly spontaneous bedtime activities. A few that work for us…

5. A BAG OF TRICKS

  • Yoga or mindfulness: I’ll either make things up as we go (balance poses, stretching or laying down poses are best at bedtime!) or turn on cosmic kids on youtube which is amazing! For mindfulness or guided meditation I’ll hop on go noodle (look in the “flow” section) or search youtube.
  • “Plan” something fun: like a special bath bomb, animal face masks, painting with watercolors or eating popsicles in the tub, making a fort to read books in, etc.
  • When you need a break: not every bedtime has to be magical and despite all the studies, you can still raise kids that love to read without reading to them EVERY night. Opt for a quick show (my kids love when it’s in our bed), a few minutes of tech time, an audio book and if certain kids are extra wild I’ll ask if they (mostly Tilly) would like a melatonin :)

One other thing I do that I think helps is making sure all the overhead lights are off in the kids’ rooms and instead turn on their reading lights. Since it’s so bright at night in the summer it doesn’t make as much of a difference, but the rest of the year I swear by doing this!

There is truly nothing as sweet as spending that last hour or so of the day with my kids — it’s a sacred time that I rarely want to miss… Now if we could just get everyone to bed before 10pm that would be great. Although, who has time for early bedtimes in the summer?

Would love to know what works for you at bedtime!?

XO, Rae

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MUST-HAVE SUMMER SHOES + SELF CARE

You know what I love? Practical things like cute summer shoes that can get wet (I’ll share our favorites below) and easy ways to check self-care off my to do list. So I thought we’d chat about both today!

Self care can seem impossible but it really doesn’t have to be complicated or even cost money. With summer starting today for us (FINALLY!) the topic has been on my mind — particularly, how to fit it in, what it looks like and how to make it happen. More than anything I just really want my kids to have a fun, happy mom to hangout with alllll summer (burnout is real!). After all we only get 18 of them together… 18!?

Here’s my list of simple, inexpensive ways to treat yourself |

  1. the little things count… date nights don’t have to be fancy. Girlfriend time can include the kids (and mimosas), and Netflix is a completely appropriate “babysitter” every once in a while so you can catch up on the bachelor, finish a project or just take a break.
  2. Workouts don’t have to be at a gym! I’ve been using the SWEAT app (and loving it!). Also shared some ideas for an at home/on the go workouts HERE.
  3. Knowing how much time things actually take… washing your face is worth the extra 2 minutes. Except some nights it’s not, lol. Workouts only take 30 minutes if you aren’t driving to a gym and a nail, eyebrow or blow-out appointment only take an hour or less!
  4. Find a good hiding spot. Mine is in the laundry room with a la croix or glass of wine and a Friends episode while I catch up on laundry. If the kids somehow happen to find me I give them clothes to fold and socks to match. Poppy is awesome at “folding” towels and washcloths :).
  5. JUST SAY NO TO: mom guilt, people pleasing and just all the extra stuff…
  6. Going to bed. Always easier said than done but the world looks so much better after sleep.
  7. Drink water.

What would you add?

(poppy hiding from papa. me prob adding text to an instagram story.)

(making myself the president of his fan club. i love you griff!)

 

WATER (FRIENDLY) SHOES |

  • Love these slides and that they come in other colors to.
  • The waterproof birks are amazing. Johan has these, griffin has these, and I would like these.
  • Espen and tilly have the target version and so does poppy.
  • We also, love, love love natives… curious about their teva style ones. May have to give them a try!

What do you think about either or both of these topics? 

:)

xoxo, Rae

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LET’S CHAT: SLEEPOVERS + SUMBER-PARTIES

We still have 2 weeks left of school, but our summer bucket list is filling up fast! At the top of the kids’ list is planning sleepovers with friends. For the most part we only do overnights with family or friends that are like family (most of which live in the same neighborhood) but a couple of the kids are wanting to branch out a little and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Actually I know exactly how I feel about it, LOL… and my answer would always be ‘NO’! But I also remember how much fun sleepovers were when I was a kid so then I feel a little guilty. So I’m curious, what are your rules for sleepovers? Or what rules did you have growing up?

(sibling slumber parties forever!)

Ozzie didn’t start having sleepovers with friends who’s parents we weren’t close to until his Freshman year of high school and by then we knew his friends so well and had been around their parents enough at youth events to feel comfortable with it.

My mom, on the other hand, had a “strength in numbers” take on it, so group sleepovers for birthday parties and stuff were ok and I think that worked out really well.

Anyways, would love to know your thoughts on the subject!

XO, Rae

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JOINING THE FAMILY CIRCUS

It’s no secret, motherhood can feel like a circus sometimes. Errr, a lot of the times ;). After reading the actual definition of a circus I’m more convinced than ever that it’s a pretty good metaphor. With Mother’s Day approaching and summer sneaking up on us, I’ve rounded up a few things to help make the days of juggling, managing, and accompanying your traveling group of acrobats, animals, clowns and performers, extra fun and festive!

  1. Saw flags like this at the kid party in the movie Mother’s Day and it looked so fun and festive! Plus they don’t cost much.
  2. Clown noses, just for fun.
  3. Circus food? Yes, please! I have this popcorn maker (not super efficient but the kids love it!), this snow cone maker (or this one) got great reviews, and who doesn’t want a little cotton candy sometimes?
  4. Love this dress.
  5. Just ordered this top on major sale.
  6. Animal cracker fudge seems like a good reason to spend time together in the kitchen. Don’t forget to share with friends!
  7. Cute sandals for when you take the circus on the road.
  8. Popcorn bags might come in handy for snack time.
  9. We’ve been trying to figure out a rewards/chores system for the kids this summer. Fair tickets might be just the thing! I like these star ones too.
  10. Wide stripes for the boys! Here’s one that’s on sale for your main squeeze too :)
  11. A diffusor (and some music) is the best way to set the vibe for your circus… add 4 drops grapefruit, 3 drops ylang-ylang, and 2 drops vanilla essential oils for a cotton candy blend. Unlike the sugary version you eat, the oils have health bennies that fight depression, help you destress and curb food cravings.
  12. Tilly and her friend have been having fun with face paint lately!
  13. A megaphone for those days when your inside voice isn’t doing the job and you don’t want to yell :)

cir·cus (noun): 1. a traveling company of acrobats, trained animals, and clowns that gives performances, typically in a large tent, in a series of different places.

See what I mean, LOL?

XO, Rae

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5 TIPS FOR RAISING CONFIDENT KIDS

Kids are naturally curious, joyful, and magical little humans with their own funny quarks and uniqueness and as their parents its easy to see their genius. Yet, no matter how much I believe in their abilities and potential, life has a sneaky way of  exposing kids to criticism, comparison and the pressure to succeed.

One of our sweet babes is really struggling with this lately — stressing out about everything from what she wears, to test scores, to running days in P.E. and even whether or not a certain person likes them — which has led me to do ALL THE READING on building confidence and spunk in children while teaching them to trust in the one who Created them too. Instead of dumping an overwhelming list of do’s, don’ts and concepts on the subject I thought I’d keep things simple and share the 5 things that have stuck out to me most.

5 WAYS TO RAISE CONFIDENT KIDS

  1. Model confidence! One of our therapist’s favorite sayings is, “Your home is a school. What are you teaching your kids?” and it always stops me in my tracks! What am I teaching them about self-talk, self-care, trying new things, responding to failure, dealing with setbacks, setting goals, God’s grace, perfectionism, and all that jazz?
  2. Teaching a growth mindset which states that our intelligence, personality and creativity can be developed and cultivated through effort. (loved this book on the subject and here’s a few great children’s books too 1/2/3/4/5/6)
  3. Giving kids a safe place to fail, struggle with a task, or be upset about something. Danny Silk does a great job of explaining the concept in THIS BOOK. Here’s a quick peek at a few of the things discussed in the book. Also really good (but not related) is what he says about giving choices in this video.
  4. Provide age appropriate opportunities for kids to be independent, self-sufficient and try new things! Kitchen activities, chores, physical activities and joining sports teams and classes is a great example.
  5. Serve others! In my opinion, there is nothing that boosts confidence and self worth like building relationships and realizing that you have the ability to effect someone’s life in a positive way.

Now for a few picks from our basket shooting, roller skating and jump roping adventures from last week when it wouldn’t stop raining! Found shelter and some much needed room to run in an undercover area at the kids’ school.

Oh my, that face.

What else would you add to the confidence building list?

Also, if you have any great parenting books or resource recs, please share in the comments. Definitely need all the help I can get around here!

XO, Rae

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