Archive | LIFE

CABIN FEVER CURES + A PRINTABLE

We’re smack dab in the middle of that winter grind that seems to last for-ev-errrr (read in sandlot voice). Some days we leave the house for errands and activities, other days are a welcome break that involve pj’s, cookie baking, forts and movies and the rest seem to be full of bored kids, bickering and screen time negotiations. The latter can sometimes sneak up on me so fast that by the time I notice, I’m also feeling totally drained and in no shape to be scrolling through pinterest for activity ideas. Which is why I started making a list to stick on the fridge or bulletin board and thought I’d share in case you’ve been experiencing the same thing.

We have such a big mix of ages in our family but hopefully it still helps and if you want to make your own list, I included a blank page too… CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

Do you guys have little tips and tricks for limiting screen time or do you tend to not worry about it and just go with the flow when it comes to tech and tv? The biggest help for us lately has been changing the passwords to everything so they aren’t sneaking off with devices. Oh and did you guys read about the youtube situation happening?… might want to make sure your kids aren’t around if you click on it! Tilly caught a glimpse and was up twice with nightmares last night. Poor thing.

xo, Rae

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WE WENT SKIING + A LOVE NOTE TO SNOW MOMS

We went skiing as a family last week which has been a dream of mine for the longest time so needless to say I’m an extra happy girl as I scroll through pics and write this post. I grew up skiing/snowboarding and always hoped I would be able to do the same with my kids but up until today, we’d only hit the slopes with portions of the fam and without any consistency. I’m excited to share a few pics but there’s something else on my mind to share first…

Since we’ve had an unusual few weeks of snow in the PNW and then with skiing last week, I’ve been thinking about all you mamas that live in cold and snowy climates because holy crap, it’s a lot of work! Sure it’s magical and fun and makes bedtimes easy (my kids sleep like babies after playing in the snow!) but the gloves and gear and layers and wet clothes and boots and constant hangry-ness and the trying to get everything dry just in time to go outside again and… gosh the list goes on. It’s a lot and I’m guessing that at this point in winter, you might be hitting a wall, so I just wanted to let you know I see you and wish I could give you a big hug and your favorite coffee drink and let you know that it matters and your kids are the luckiest!

That time Pepa Pig went skiing with us (see the windowsill below). Also just never want to forget such a pretty mess made of random but real things that got us through our day — a backpack stocked with advil, hand sanitizer, granola bars, headphones, hair ties (etc.), wet gloves, half sipped on hot cocoa, fountain drinks and skis small enough to bring into the lodge (no ski check line!). And so many other items that wouldn’t fit in the frame.

It’s a tricky thing to be content and grateful for the things you have while also planning, working and dreaming for the future… Days like these always bring a fresh new energy and perspective that make me extra grateful.

What dream goals do you have for your family?

xo, Rae

WEARING | Griffin and Tilly’s star print snow gear and Poppy’s pink jumpsuit are all sold out at hanna andersson but for future reference, they fit amazing and keep them super warm and dry. Griffin’s green coat (fits tts) and his and Poppy’s gloves (size up one) are from Polarn O. Pyret and are also great. Would love to try their rain gear! My coat (on sale!) is from Madewell (wearing a small) and is great for everyday and kept me dry but wasn’t the warmest on the mountain.

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OUR FAVORITE AMAZON PURCHASES IN 2018

One of my goals for 2019 is to be more thoughtful about how I spend money and while I’ve made a few changes lately (baby steps!), I don’t see myself quitting on amazon prime anytime soon. Here are our favorite Amazon purchases of 2018…

  1. favorite moisturizer to put on my face… add 30 drops of frankincense to the bottle to help even skin color and heal blemishes.
  2. this cell phone armband for running + workouts
  3. a couple more workout essentials — medecine ball + jump rope
  4. the kids echo dot — because listening to them ask alexa to play “baby shark” or “tell me a story” is the best!
  5. these headphones are lifesavers (bluetooth, long lasting battery, safe for little + big ears, durable and design friendly) but are also the same price through their web site.
  6. kitchen organizing bins for the fridge and pantry (love!)
  7. pint sized blender bottles are so handy for the kids’ school, games + practices!
  8. monkey string is the perfect activity for kids on the go or traveling. (did you see this post?)
  9. love this tray so much I plan on buying more.
  10. in need of a refill of these… so many pretty colors!
  11. the raffle tickets we use for earning things… more on that in this post.
  12. our party, play date and movie night must-haves: these cups (because lids!) and food trays
  13. speaking of parties, these star balloons and giant diy confetti balloons are evergreen and get used for every special day or random reason to celebrate!
  14. the cutest birthday candles in rainbow or white
  15. love these jammies for sleeping or layering under snow gear. more options here.

Did you guys know you can check the number of orders you’ve made on Amazon by year? We’ve gone up about 10 orders per year since 2013 when we made 2 purchases (lol)… what about you guys!?

xo, Rae

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SCENES FROM OUR WINTER WEEKEND (SO FAR) + A FAMILY UPDATE

(serious dad skills ^^^)

Yay Presidents day! Happy to say we still have a couple days left of the weekend (woot!) but I wanted to stop in with a little family update and a few random pics from Saturday morning. I’ve been doing my best to get the camera out even when the lighting isn’t good (which is most of november to march in Seattle) so these aren’t the best quality pics, but I still treasure them! Here’s what everyone’s been up to…

(Poppy’s leo is from here. Also, we chopped her hair and now it’s super wavy in the back and she wakes up with the most amazing bedhead. It’s the cutest.)

Ozzie | Has been enjoying an off-season from sports but still finds ways to be around sporting events by cheering on his friends (and sibs). He spent Saturday at his bff’s state wrestling meet. So proud of Oz for the kind of buddy and big brother he is. There are few things more important in life than giving others your time and encouragement Oz, so keep it up!

Espen | Got straight A’s on his first middle school report card. I cried when I opened it and yelled to Johan to come peek but then he pointed out that it’s not considered straight A’s if there are A minuses sprinkled in. Can you tell which one of us was an A sudent and which one wasn’t? In other Espen news, he laughs every time someone says “balls” so you know middle school humor is still alive and well regardless of GPA.

Tilly | is currently organizing and producing (aka being a bit bossy about) a youtube channel for her and Griffin. Johan made them promise that they won’t use annoying baby voices in their videos, ha! (anyone else over youtube kids?) Needless to say it’s been an adventure already… get ready for some slime videos coming your way!

Griffin | Lost one of his front teeth (so many heart eyes!) and is working on his other one. He’s also very excited about the youtube channel but is mostly focused on the potential to make money with advertisements, lol.

Poppy | Has grown to love being in the snow, hallelujah! Remember these sledding pics? Well, after our big snow storm and being able to play in the snow 8 days (almost) in a row helped so much. Guess I forget that Poppy (in particular) needs time to adjust and warmup to anything new. We’re celebrating her breakthrough with a family ski day later this week and I cannnnnot wait!

(see that front gap!? ahhhhh, too cute.)

Johan | has been bringing donuts home on Saturday and Sunday mornings after shifts lately so we decided to make it an official tradition. He’s also been making lots of batches of guacamole lately so basically he’s my favorite person eva.

Rae | Gosh, it’s hard thinking of something for myself! I’m mostly looking forward to skiing on Tuesday. Oh and I also recently started taking vitamins (with iron!) regularly and have been sleeping better and feeling better and am blown away at the difference. I’ll definitely be sticking to it through winter and spring!

What’s new with you? Have any habits or projects you’ve started or want to start?

xo, Rae

PS — Sorry for anyone waiting for a meal plan! Since it’s kind of a weird week I decided to skip and just stock the kitchen with our go-to’s. I’ll try and post a running list on Stories tomorrow. Or scroll down for past plans.

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RAISING LOVING SIBLINGS

I feel overly obligated to start by saying I don’t have the whole “loving siblings” thing figured out and that if having 5 kids has taught me anything it’s that they’re all different with varying needs, personalities and relationship dynamics. BUT I do think we’ve done a few things that have helped strengthen bonds between our kids. Whether or not it will payoff in the long run will forever be an open verdict but for now they’ve made our home mostly pleasant and silly with lots of sweet sibling moments sprinkled in. What’s helped more than anything is taking the time to notice what works for each kid — just like love languages and such, each of our kids seem to be influenced differently — so I thought I would break up my tips and ideas based on what works for each of our babes!

HELP OR ENCOURAGE LOVE NOTES + JOURNALS | This is HUGE for Tilly and I think overall there is something so freeing and powerful about being able to jot down your thoughts and sentiments. She’s always slipping notes under doors and crafting mailboxes and envelopes for us to return the favor. This past fall, all the kids wrote letters to Ozzie for his 18th Birthday and I think I cried over all of them. However, it doesn’t have to be fancy — a simple post it note will do!

POINT OUT THE MOMENTS + THE MEMORIES | This is Ozzie all the way. Show him a picture of him and his siblings, remind him of a story, talk about how they’re the same or different, and point out the MOMENTS of bonding that mean so much, like “how awesome is it that you can work together on (fill in the blank)” or “Gosh you guys are such a fun pair!”

FRIENDSHIP OVER SIBLINGSHIP | Swap out “little brother/sister” and “big brother/sister” for “friend” (okay, maybe not all the time!). For example, “gosh your being such a good friend to Poppy!” Griffin (the most high maintenance of the sibs) eats this up! Probably because he’s 4th in the lineup and wants to feel more like part of the crew and less like the “yittle brudder”.

TEACHING CONFLICT RESOLUTION | this is important alllll around, but it also happens to be Poppy’s forte. Girlfriend never backs down from a conflict but always makes sure everyone hugs and makes up. Also not ashamed to say we’ve taken a line from Full House (+ Fuller House, too) — Talk it out, work it out, hug it out!

TEAM BUILDING FTW | Espen shines in this situation but overall, everyone benefits. Anything from playing a game, sharing highs and lows at the dinner table, having them say 3 nice things about each other, organizing a lemonade stand, or giving them a chore to do together, to family nights in, staycations, weekend getaways and longer vacays! And when the kids seem to be at serious odds with each other, organizing a “parents vs. kids” game works like a charm!

Just a bunch of crazies that get to grow up together. (Including us parents.)

Here’s hoping we’re teaching them to appreciate, show up and cheer for each other while being authentic and sincere. Not just forcing them to “get along” — which in my book is totally overrated and should be reserved for coworkers and neighbors. Even if it feels like my sanity might be at risk sometimes, hahahah!

Now it’s your turn… share all your tips! Lord knows I need them!

xo, Rae

Images by Amy Nielson Photography

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THINGS WE LOVE: SUNDAYS SPENT AT HOME + ANIMAL CHAT BY BRIGHTER FUN

Hoping you’re not over all our food and kitchen related posts and images, lol. Guess it’s where and how we spend most of our time during the colder months… working on our winter bods of course! As I’ve mentioned, we’ve been enjoying alllllll the snow days for the last week or so. This past Sunday after Johan came home from the fire station, we whipped up a french toast breakfast (he makes the toast + I prep the toppings!) and played a fun new animal chat game by my friend Betsy with these two while Ozzie and his friends slept in and Espen and Tilly were at a sleepover. Love opportunities to spend Q.T. with one or two of the kids and am thankful that Johan grabbed the camera to snap a few pics. Always impossible to narrow down my favorites!

V. IMPORTANT: Griffin lost a front baby tooth and it’s just too cute to handle. I’m hoping it’s replacement doesn’t come in before his other front tooth wiggles it’s way out!

Aren’t these illustrated cards adorable!? I want to frame them… or request that Betsy makes a big poster that includes all of them!

Here’s the down-low on Animal Chat: it’s a playful game that helps build better understanding of emotions and feelings created by Betsy and her husband who is an educator (yay! love husband-wife teams!). There are three ways to play – or you can create your own directions!

Find tons more info and different ways to purchase on their Kickstarter page (I just purchased another set for a gift)! You can also head here to sign up for emails.

The kids had a blast looking at the cards, acting out their feelings and asking/answering questions. There aren’t any strict rules or keeping track of points so it really is a game that feels more like free-play. Definitely a good time and lots of laughing.

I especially appreciated the range of cards and emotions — mischievous, content, cool, grouchy and goofy were a few of my favorites! Lord knows there are a lot of feelings happening in our home at any given time… how helpful would it be if our kids (and adults!) were able to sort out how they feel beyond happy or mad?!

Griffin’s silly half face expression made me laugh so had to include :)

How did you spend your weekend?

More importantly, after making a sweet treat do you go for the bowl or whisk/spoon?

As friends I’m feeling like this is something I should know. I’m definitely a bowl girl — especially if I’m the one in charge of scraping out the goods as I always leave a little extra!

xo, Rae

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MAKING FITNESS A PRIORITY + WHY I WORKOUT

I used to workout because I wanted to stay a certain size, see a certain number on the scale and flatten out as many lumps and dimples as possible. As I’ve gotten older and had more kids, it simply got to be too much to keep up with and honestly my “WHY” made it difficult to justify making time for it (hello pregnancy and nursing and busy kids and a full schedule and no sleep and things that are actually important!).

Now I workout because I want to be around for and be able to play with my kids for a long time. I want to set a good example for them like my parents did. I want the endorphins (they make me happy) and energy that comes from moving my body. I want to honor God by taking care of what he’s given me. And I want to feel good in my skin not because of how I look but because I’m strong and capable.

Changing my “WHY” has honestly made all the difference.

What helps you prioritize workouts? Has your “why” changed over the years? I would love to hear more from you in the comments!

XO, Rae

PS – Another thing that’s helped me prioritize fitness is having a running list of workouts that I can do in a pinch or when I need a change of pace. I’ll be sharing my favorites over on Instagram Stories later today and will be sure to archive under the “workouts” highlight too. If we aren’t already hanging out over on the gram, click HERE!!!

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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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