Archive | PARENTING

MOTHER’S DAY + FAMILY VALUES

I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend! Still feeling extra grateful that these 5 made me a mama and for the crazy adventure and wild love that comes with motherhood. There is nothing like it.

Of course we all know it’s not all morning snuggles and dance parties. It’s exhausting and challenging and incredibly humbling to raise these kids. I’m thankful though that just as they’re growing and learning, so am I. My perspective has changed over the years which makes everything more enjoyable. My faith has been tested which has made me stronger. And my arsenal of tools and resources has grown, which has made a world of difference.

One of the most applicable tools we’ve used is creating a list of 5 Core Family Values. It’s given so much structure and purpose to how our family operates and makes decision making so much easier too (hooray!). So I thought I would share with you what ours are in case it’s helpful! Keep in mind, this is less a way of measuring how good we are at each value and more a way to keep us focused on what’s most important.

Sharing our list in detail and pics from Mother’s Day at my parent’s house below!

One last “warning” because I had a hard time emphasizing that all of these values are “in progress”. We are in no way, shape or form, perfect at any of them… okay, now you can read :)

OUR 5 CORE FAMILY FALUES

  • WE SET EACHOTHER (+ OTHER’S) UP FOR SUCCESS — My personal favorite because instead of forcing things, it reminds me to do what works! It means we support each other when we’re thriving as well as when we’re struggling. It also makes self care a priority so I know exactly what to do when that “mom guilt” creeps up on me! YAY!
  • WE ARE GENEROUS — That means when a student comes to the door with a fundraiser, we buy something. When we are eating out, we leave big tips and when God gives us an opportunity to give to a charity, we give. It also means we’re generous with intangible things too… like patience, love, encouragement, etc.
  • QUALITY TIME — This is why everything from our morning routine, to tuck-ins, and reading is a big thing at our house, and why we plan outings and activities as a family outside of the house (less distractions!). It’s also what makes making an effort to plan date nights and kid dates worth the effort — no matter our love languages.
  • FUN, FUN, FUN — Even when we’re tired, we’re going to rally. Even when the experience/situation is a dud, we’re going to look for ways to make it fun. And when we’re faced with two choices and one will be more fun than the other, we know which one to choose :)
  • WE LOVE LIKE JESUS — This one is more of a challenge to be less selfish, judgmental and fearful and more prayerful, proactive, inclusive, present and approachable. More than anything it makes people’s hearts our priority and dictates how we show up for them. It also requires us to do the hard things when it comes to setting healthy boundaries and navigating relationships… It’s complicated and simple all at the same time and not to be completely cheesy but I find asking WWJD actually really helpful, ha!

Ohhhh, the chaos of trying to get (almost) everyone in the frame. For the most part our kids appreciate and even enjoy getting their pictures taken but that doesn’t mean the process goes smoothly… one of these days I’m going to set up a video camera so we can document and share the whole process, lol.

Skateboarding is easily one of my favorite childhood pastimes so I love anytime we have one to bring on a walk with us…

… Plus it get’s everyone to hold hands which you all know is my favoritest thing ever. Evidence below!

Bumming hard over something his brother did… Oh how I remember this feeling as a kid!

Also, more hand holding below :)

Have you set values or intentions as a family? If not, what would you want to be on your list?

Either way I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences… you guys have the best insights!

xo, Rae

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PARENTING HACK: EARLY RISER ACTIVITY BASKET

We all know that in most cases, after having kids, a full nights sleep becomes a rare luxury and a Saturday morning spent in bed isn’t going to happen anytime soon, and personally I’m okay with it. However, when the kids roll outta bed at 5:45am on a Saturday, it’s nice to have something quiet and calm for them to do (so they don’t wake up the rest of the house!) that doesn’t involve a screen. Of course we love a little tech time, especially on the weekends but when Poppy and Griff wake up around 6am and the rest of the crew wakes after 8am it can be hard to keep screen time to a reasonable amount. This is where our activity basket has come in handy… Get the full diy and some ideas for making your own below!


GOOD MORNING ACTIVITY BASKET

A Few Ideas:

  • a snack (fruit leathers or a banana and zbars are usually our go-to)
  • calming blend essential oil roller (ours has 5 drops Frankincense, 5 drops tangerine or orange + fractionated coconut oil — the blend promotes feelings of peace and creativity!)
  • coloring supplies (or these water wow books!)
  • favorite picture book (this is our current favorite)
  • pretend and creative play toys (I added a dress-up mask from opposite of far and unicorn horn by brooklyn owl, pipe cleaners + some peppa pig characters… we also have at least one basket of legos in every room of the house which come in handy and also love this chalkboard “laptop”!)
  • a basket or bin for storage
  • HOT TIP: hide the basket when they’re done and then put it out by their bed once they’re asleep at night :)

Meet our two {very} early risers… after hitting the jackpot with three incredibly good sleepers (at least after the first year) and nappers these two non-sleepers came as a bit of a shock to us. Most nights at least one of them crawls into our bed at some point and they both seem to be able to sense when either Johan or I are up and at ’em and then act accordingly, ha! Don’t get me wrong, I love a good snuggle sesh in the morning and am always happy to see their sweet faces but the whole reason I get up early is so I can squeeze in a little work before our day starts. While there’s no shame in Netflix-ing, after a long winter and very rainy April, we’re really trying to cut back on all screens. Having a dedicated basket for them feels special and fun and has been a lifesaver… If you try out an early riser activity basket with your kids, I’d love to know how it goes and do my best to keep up with comments on the blog and DM’s or comments/tags on Instagram so hit me up!!!

These kids and their oils. Obsessed + I don’t blame ’em. I also love that it’s another way to teach them how to pay attention to how they are feeling and then take care of themselves. By the look of these pics, I think Griffin would bathe in oils. Not a coincidence that it’s a calming blend he’s rolling on, lol.

After a few years of using oils and doing all of my own research and sourcing (remember when we used to sell them!?), I finally got smart and signed up for Young Living. Kicking myself for taking so long as it’s saved me time and money and has given me access to products we use daily that I would otherwise have to live without (I see you thieves). I’m still working on setting up a resource page that’s easy to share, but if you’d like to know more, sign up, or ask me alllll the questions you can leave a comment or send me an email at rae(at)raeannkelly(dot)com!

Happy Friday Loves!

xo, Rae

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READY TO WEEKEND + COMFORT ZONES

It’s FRIDAY (woot!) and to top it off the sun’s out and a couple of the kids don’t have school so we are feeling ready to start the weekend! If you keep up with my Instagram Stories, you probably saw that Ozzie was accepted to WSU this week which had me feeling allll the feelings (it’s where I attended school when he was a babe!) and getting very nostalgic. Johan and I have been chatting a lot about our own adolescents and college years and I was surprised to learn a couple new things about him and vice versa– even after all these years, lol!

During one of our convos something came up that I had almost forgotten about and I thought it would fun to chat about it with you…

When I was a Senior in High School, I took an acting class — something that as more of an athlete and super shy kid was very out of character for me. Of course, I wasn’t all that good even after 6 months of consistent practice and training, but it was SO GOOD FOR ME. Maybe one of the best things I’ve ever done simply because it got me out of my comfort zone and introduced me to people I wouldn’t have known otherwise.

There’s my random fact for the day :)

Can you think of a situation that was totally outside of your comfort zone but you said “yes” anyways? Or fun facts or talents that most people don’t know about you? Please share!?

xo, Rae

PS – a million thank you’s to everyone for their DM’s and messages about Ozzie’s college news… we are so proud of him and so thankful for all the support!

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LOCATION VS. HOUSE…. (+ OTHER THOUGHTS ON MOVING)


Would you rather… have your dream home in an okay location or an okay home in your dream location?

Asking because we’ve been talking a lot about moving lately and I’m surprised at how undecided I feel on the whole subject. Especially since I never dreamed I’d live in the same state I did most of my growing up and definitely didn’t think when I married Johan who studied abroad in Sweden (in high school) and Australia (in college) and had a degree in international business, that he’d end up in a career that kept him in one spot. So it feels weird to me to be indecisive about where to move…. even when we wouldn’t be moving very far away, lol. BUT there is so much that goes into figuring things out: the budget, location, THE KIDS (especially now that they’re older), friends + family, schools, community, church, commutes, conveniences, etc. And then there’s deciding between a fixer upper or something more move in ready?

Ahhhhh, it’s so hard when what you want and what’s best aren’t the same thing and when the decisions made effects so many people you love! Wishing it was just a bit easier to know what to do!

Have you guys learned any tricks or tips when it comes to moving or making big decisions for your family? Tell me I’m not alone in the overwhelm and indecisiveness…

xo, Rae

PS – can I please just move into that pink lifeguard tower on the beach? That would solve all my problems, lol.

Image source from Sf GIRL… such a great site for interior inspo.

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HELLO FRIDAY + CARTING THE KIDS AROUND

YAY for the weekend! It’s been such a weird week around here so I’m feeling v. ready… Bring on the Birthday parties, get togethers and sports games.

Speaking of weekend festivities and schedules, I’ve had a few convos with other mom friends about how to manage kid activities and how busy things can get and I have to admit that when I signed Ozzie up for a mommy + me swim class at 14 months old, I had no idea that it was just the beginning… We’ve been running around to classes, fields and gymnasiums ever since and it’s seriously the cutest thing… Not so ironically, I’m currently watching Poppy plié her way through ballet class as I write this!

As the kids get older there’s a lot less mommy + me and a lot more after school sports and clubs, practices and games. It’s still so fun and exciting (and even cute sometimes too), but also comes with some juggling and decision making which I’m the worst at, ha!

Should we sign up for this or that or take a break? Should I say no to that thing for this kid because they need more rest or does this child need a push to take that class because they’re always reluctant but also always happy after they go? It’s all so good but also tricky to navigate.

For me the most helpful approach has been to remember that nothing is permanent and it’s all seasonal — literally. “Jesus take the wheel” prayers always help too… ha!

How do you decide how busy (or not busy) to make your kids’ schedules????

xoxo, Rae

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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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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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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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VIDEO: AVOIDING THE HOLIDAY MELTDOWNS + EASY MOMMY + ME YOGA

The girls and I put together a little Holiday themed yoga (with lots of stretching) sequence and are so excited to share! I’ve mentioned a couple times (here + no. 11 here) that we use yoga to help all of us slowdown, wind-down and reconnect and with the hustle and bustle of Christmas and endless opportunities to consume sugar I figured we all could use some zen-ness!

Hopefully the names and moves make it easy to remember! A little description of each…

  • GINGERBREAD HOUSE – a house pose with feet apart and hands together over your head to make a roof.
  • CHRISTMAS TREE – same a the tree pose, hands together to make the top of the tree, and depending on level of difficulty and balance, place foot above or below your knee.
  • STAR – feet apart and hands out at your side… then can’t resist doing some jumping jacks (slash elves).
  • CANDY CANE – bend side to side to stretch!
  • SNOW DOG – classic downward dog, but don’t forget to lift each leg and shake the snow off.
  • MAKE COOKIES – stretch your legs and core by grabbing dough, rolling it out, then grabbing flour, cookie cutters, frosting and sprinkles as you turn to each side.
  • REINDEER – gotta get ready to pull santa’s sleigh so stretch out that booty by pulling your knee to chest and then adding antlers with your hands, because you’re a reindeer, ha! :)
  • SANTA’S SLEIGH – normally called the bow pose.
  • SUGAR PLUM – we always finish by resting on our backs or stomaches… if it’s right before bedtime we’ll add some deep breaths and close our eyes, if not it always ends up in a pig pile!

What other poses or stretches could you give a Christmas-y name?

How do you guys like to slowdown during the holidays?

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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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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