Archive | summer


I love when summer arrives and our daily routine gets turned upside down, breakfast get’s eaten anytime before noon and our laundry room (but really any flat surface) get’s piled with wet towels and swimsuits. That being said, there is a fine line between easy summer living and a total free-for-all. One allows for spontaneous trips to the pool or park and the other has me pulling my hair out while the kids complain of boredom and have death grips on their iPads. One of the things that helps keep the latter at bay is to add a dose of structure with a healthy helping of wiggle room. More important than anything though is being really clear with expectations and then sticking to them!

I’ve spent the last several weeks working on a chart that makes it easy to do both and I’m excited to share it with you today as a printable download (below!)! You can of course make it your own (the last few pages of the PDF are blank!) but I’ll explain a little more how we use it. Here’s to finding your summer sweet spot between buzz-kill mom and frazzled mom!

THE EVERYDAY STUFF, like getting ready, making their bed and contributing to keeping our home somewhat tidy-ish (with an assigned cleaning zone) allows them to earn an allowance but also frees them up to play with friends or get a craft or activity out to play with! So if at 10am a friend comes to the door, they want to build a fort or they have sea shells that they’re dying to paint, when they ask permission I’ll say, “Are you dressed and brushed? Did you do your chore? Is your bed made?” This is where checking their work is important (but not always convenient). They’re pretty good about it now, but I used to have to give an extra chore to any kid that fudges the truth :) Luckily they’re quick learners.

Regarding the cleaning zones; At the beginning of each week the kids pick an area to be in charge of. This is something I stole from a friend that homeschools and have been doing it for about a year now and I love it. So simple and keeps negotiations to one day a week, lol. Our current zones (it can change with the seasons!) are: organize shoes, sweep downstairs, tidy playroom, empty dishwasher, tidy bathrooms and tidy back yard and water plants. Again, super simple (and maybe a little wimpy compared to what others have their kids do!) but it works for us and is also very helpful because there’s very little micromanaging.

Poppy’s still a little young to complete most of those chores without help so she usually teams up with one of her sibs to help them or she can pick a zone and I’ll help her.

EARNING PRIVILEGES, which for our kids is screen time and friend time (I mentioned above). Again, this will be different for different ages and situations, but for us the kids have to read for 20 mins before they can have screen time starting at 7pm. If for some reason the kids read more than 20 mins one day, they can mark it off on their chart but that doesn’t carry over for screen time the next day — instead they can read more or do one of the other 20 minute activities. What usually ends up happening is that 7:30pm rolls around and they haven’t read yet so they get ready for bed and then cozy up to read and before you know it, it’s almost 9 and they’re sleepy so they either go to bed or get 30-ish mins to play before we tuck them in, lol. Which is the best case scenario if you ask me! Also before you think I’m running a tight ship, I’m wayyyy more lenient with screen time in the mornings while I work, especially for the early risers! Wigggggle room is my friend!!!

*SIDE-NOTE: 20 mins might seem like a lot to some and nothing to others but for us it works — it’s easy to enforce, no one complains and even Poppy can look at books that long if no ones available to read to her. However, if reading is a battle, start with 5 mins! Or cross it off the list… the intention is always to help and not discourage and there really is no wrong way to “summer”.

MAKE IT FUN, with stamps or stickers and of course a reward at the end of the week! I mentioned above that they have to read and or code (we love the Bitsbox subscription!), play the piano or do some watercoloring before they have screen time in the evening (usually not before 7pm) but giving them stamps or stickers to load up their chart keeps them motivated and engaged (small wins, FTW!) while they continue the week and work towards earning an allowance. Then for their reward we chose to do an allowance with the potential for bonus money because it works for all of our different age groups and is the easiest to keep track of. In the past we’ve also given prizes or planned outings (like ice cream dates!) as a reward.

*PARENTING HACK: Do yourself a solid and get 100 $1 bills in an envelope from the bank. It’s the only way we’ve been able to make this work because we don’t ever have cash hanging out in our wallets. Now that the kids are earning money they’re able to spend it on the ice cream truck or concession stands at games, but before we started this little system we used our envelope of $1 for stuff like that or fro-yo/popcorn days at school. It’s a true lifesaver!

(Did you see our stories last night of the kids coding with bitsbox? So much silly fun! We just got their second box so they’ve been trying out all the new project cards.)

ACTIVITIES THAT KEEP THEIR MINDS SHARP + HAPPY, I have honestly never been successful or consistent at this over summer break and I always regret it when back to school season arrives. This year instead of trying workbooks and learning/quizzing web sites I opted for more hands on activities and it’s been working so well! For coding we enjoy Bitsbox. For piano we’ve been using Jamzone (thank you to Phillip for sharing via DM!). And as another option I signed the kids up for my friend’s online watercolor class, too! All have been so fun and entertaining!

Last but not least is practicing gratitude! Depending on our schedule the kids can write their thoughts down in a journal or they can verbally tell me 5 specific things and then earn a stamp on their chart. Again, so simple but also effective! We did this last summer with one of the kids who had struggled with anxiety during the school year and by the end of summer they were a new person. Highly recommend!

EARNING BONUSES, isn’t something we’ve done much of in the past but because this is the first summer in a few years that we haven’t had a regular babysitter I figured it would be a good way to use the “leftover” budget :) If they do all their reading and fill up the other activities (coding and piano or watercolor) to the “yay” they can earn an extra dollar or two by doing more chores or activities. It’s again, another way for them to contribute and help with family life, but I also love how it can transfer over to adult life, too!

Ok you guys, that was a lot of info but if I missed anything please comment and I’ll be sure to respond.



And be sure to scroll to the last few pages if you want a blank one. Also, I’m happy to make minor edits if there’s enough need for it so leave a comment with your requests.

xo, Rae



Sometime during the last week of school I asked the kids to tell me two things they want to do this summer while I typed their answers into the notes section of my phone. Figured I should make it official with a blog post… and probably a paper list that lives on the fridge too :)

Here’s what everyone picked.

OZZIE | our annual whidbey camping trip + play more baseball!

ESPEN | go to the wave pool as much as possible + see my gig harbor buddies

GRIFFIN | sleepover on the trampoline + swim at my gigi’s lake (sorry papa, lol)

TILLY | horseback riding + go camping

POPPY | lemonade stand + buy a pool (def my child)

YODER | trip to seabrook + tent camping

ME | day trip to roche harbor + an outdoor (grownup tunes) concert

(pics from free slurpee day yesterday!)

I’m not usually one to skimp when it comes to making lists but we’ve taken similar approaches for bucket lists before and they always seem to workout better this way. Everyone’s happy when their most important activity get’s checked off AND they even get excited to check things off for each other too!

Bucket list maker or not, I’d love to hear how you keep things fun and laidback during the summer and what you’re most looking forward to?

I think this year I’m most excited about celebrating all the Birthdays! 4 total, (eek)! All of which aren’t listed on our list, lol. Yet another reason to keep things simple I guess!!!

xo, Rae



If you’re looking for a fun activity to do with the kids this summer that gets you outside, would be easy to do over and over again and is all around low-maintenance then you’ve come to the right place! I was planning on making these simple floral crowns for a midsummer celebration, but it didn’t workout so instead I brought all the supplies over to our friend’s house (they’re renovating an old farm!) and asked Tilly and Londan to help me put together a tutorial.

Details and supply list below!

Kid’s ages will defiantly determine how much hands-on help they’ll need. Regardless though there are enough kid-friendly steps to make it fun for all ages and would be a great activity at a party or playdate too!

For reference before you start ordering all the things, the girls are 10 years old and were able to make their crowns with very little help.


You’ll Need:

Here’s How:

  1. Measure head with wire twine and double it (so the wire will go around their heads twice). Add an extra inch or so to the length and cut. Fold wire twine in half and twist, leaving a loop on the folded end. Shape into a crown/circle.
  2. Collect and/or trim flowers, leaving at least a couple inches of the stems.
  3. Cut approx. 12-inches of floral tape. Starting a couple inches to the left of your folded/looped end, start arranging flowers, wrapping and securing their stems using the floral tape as you continue to layer until half of your wire crown is covered with flowers.
  4. Trim flower stems as needed and secure onto head!

Aren’t these friends cute in their little crowns!?

Can’t wait to make more… maybe at Poppy’s birthday party later this summer!

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions…

xo, Rae



I hope everyone had a good 4th of July and was able to continue the fun over the weekend! After all the festivities on Thursday, Oz and I went home, packed up and hopped on a plane to Pullman for orientation at WSU. Needless to say the last week has been non-stop, full of feels and a bit of a blur, but also loads of fun. Happy to be home in our own beds with the rest of the crew and thought I’d flip through and share pics from 4th!

We kicked things off Thursday morning with the fishing derby and I’m proud to report that after years of wanting to decorate the boat beforehand I finally got my stuff together and brought balloons (lol) and some paper buntings. Neither of which was all that noticeable or impressive, but I think added a nice touch!

After fishing, we spent the rest of the day filling up on yard games, yummy food, watching all the kids swim and spending time with friends and family. Even though the weather wasn’t all that warm I love so much that we were able to spend the entire day (15 hours!) outside. Thankful for kids that are willing to swim without the sunshine… wish I was still that tough and cool!

A summer version of the snow angel :)

(Johan and our friend, Collin getting ready for the blind boat race above!)

Our friends and their 5 kids joined us for the morning activities and community potluck which meant all the kids and our hubbies had a partner for the games and everyone had a blast.

Having buddies is the best and it’s always so cute listening to the conversations.

(The mamas! Kendra has a blog you should definitely follow!)

I participated in the three-legged race with Johan per usual (my fave!) and the rest of the time cheered everyone on, snapped pics and did damage control (i.e. wiped egg from the egg toss off of Griffin’s face and hair, lol).

After all that work it was time for cotton candy! Every year after this BBQ potluck, I’m tempted to purchase a cotton candy machine for all the summer birthdays and parties. If you have any experience (good or bad) let me know!

That group pic hustle, below. Always seems kinda impossible to wrangle everyone without making a scene, but is also always worth it and usually produces some pretty funny outtakes if nothing else. Love all these kids so much!

After the community event I put the camera away so I could be a more attentive hostess while we continued the party at my parents house and welcomed more of our friends and their babes over.

It’s always kinda nice to not be distracted by picture duty but then it bums me out not to have pics from the whole day. How do you guys balance documenting memories while also being a participant in those memories?

Being more intentional about group pics (vs. all the in-between shots) might be a good way to do it but it also helps that Johan doesn’t mind taking turns with the camera too… tag-teaming anything when you’re raising a family is always a good approach I think!

xo, Rae



One day these kids will know just how lucky they are to call Johan DAD, DADDY, DADA + DAAAAAAD! He’s the greatest gift we’ve all ever been given (other than Jesus and each other). Not to mention their amazing and fun Papa too so it’s like a big fat double whammy of blessing in their lives. It’s only been a couple weeks since we celebrated Father’s Day but it feels like months ago to me… anyone else!? Had to share a few pics from the two hours we spent at the Redwood driving range that day before if feels like forever ago!

Despite the fact that we chose to swing from the top deck (only had a few hundred mini heart attacks, lol) we had the best time celebrating the dads in our lives!

Golf is probably the one thing Johan wishes he did more of so my mom and I figured we’d send him and my dad to the golf course on Father’s Day morning. However they opted for a kid friendly version instead which made entertaining the kids for half the day so. much. easier. Thanks guys!

Now that things have settled down a bit, we should probably have them reschedule!

Miss Tilly working through a litlte bit of frustration… Its hard to hit that little ball! So proud of her!

Stealing all the snuggle time with Gigi!


Griffin might have a future as a golf pro… or maybe a coach of any kind. I shared a few videos on Stories of him “helping” Poppy and then standing back with his hands on his hips to see how she did. It was so sweet and cute and also, I couldn’t believe that Pop-Tart was up for it, ha! It’s not easy being coached by an older sibling!

Luckily Papa stepped in for a bit before she got too annoyed :)

A patterned rug? Yes, please!

Missing Ozzie who was on a trip and of course my Father-in-law too!

How did you celebrate Father’s Day?

xo, Rae



It can be easy to get stuck styling dresses the same way over and over again so I thought it would be fun to put together a few looks using the same dress. They’re also ball-field approved for all you mamas spending evenings and weekends cheering on your kids while also playing with, keeping track of and entertaining the rest of the cheer squad! Plus dresses make port-a-potty situations so much easier, ha!

Also excited that the outfits include my new favorite Sonnet James dress. What I love most about SJ dresses is that I never have to worry about them being too short, the material being too precious, or whether or not I’m going to be comfortable (i.e. I’m always tempted to sleep in mine at the end of a long day, lol). If you haven’t purchased one of Whitney’s dresses yet, I highly recommend treating yourself to one as a Mother’s Day gift! They’re all so good and so is her overall messaging and mission.

Without further ado, here’s 4 ways to style a spring or summer dress… scroll through and then let me know which look is your favorite!

OUTFIT NO. 1 | dress, shoes, sweatshirt, belt (thrifted), sunnies (similar)

Layering a bulky top over a dress with a full skirt isn’t usually the most flattering, but adding a belt gives a hint of a waistline and that “tucked” look that we all love! That being said, I’m also a big believer that not everything we wear has to be the most flattering… It’s okay to just have fun with it!

OUTFIT NO. 2 | dress, shoes, hat from Espen’s team, denim jacket

Ok, so maybe the little league hat isn’t the best way to balance out the converse on my feet on a normal day (it’s a little cheesy), but it totally works for a date at the ball-field in my opinion, ha!

OUTFIT NO. 3 | dress, shoes (love these and these), sunnies

It doesn’t get anymore effortless than throwing on your favorite dress with your comfiest sandals and a fun (statement-ish) pair of sunnies!

OUTFIT NO. 4 | dress, sweater, jeans (similar, love these too and they’re on sale!), shoes, bandanas

A bandana is a great way to add a pop of team color to the mix! And for games that aren’t as warm (or when you want to participate in a cartwheel competition), one of my favorite street style looks is wearing a fitted jean under a flow-y dress. A cropped cardi or jacket warms things up without adding too much bulk.

A few fun outtakes :)

Had to grab some candy for the shoot and Ozzie’s game later in the evening. I’m not much of a candy eater these days (if there isn’t chocolate or ice cream involved!), but I remember sucking on lemonheads at my big brother’s baseball games as a kid and bubble gum is a must for our kids these days… plus it’s an easy treat to share with the other kids (and adults) at games too!

What’s your favorite candy to snack on at a baseball game or sporting event?

Oh, and which look is your favorite, 1, 2, 3, or 4!?

XO, Rae

PS – A BIG shoutout to Johan for hanging out and snapping pics long enough for me to do a few outfit changes… no idea how you put up with my shenanigans but I’m thankful you do!



If this doesn’t have you dreaming of pool days with your babes (big or small) this summer, I don’t know what will! I love Olivia + Ocean for their mission to make swimwear that fits into a mama’s lifestyle… so that in between all the towel drying, sun screening, meltdown managing, snack making and (fill in the blank) you can feel stunning, pulled together and more likely ready to play, snuggle, sunbathe or participate in a cannon ball contest.

Danielle (the mama behind O+O) puts equal thought into creating vintage-y modern swimmers for your mini that make sunny day adventures extra special and nostalgic.

All of this to say, O+O just launched the sweetest collection that includes a floral print I designed and am totally smitten with. The full collection coordinates too so you can go full mom + mini matchy-matchy or twin just a little bit.

Don’t you love it?!!! My favorite to date… Poppy will be running around in this for sure and I love the red bikini as well.

A pop of red for me too, please! So classic.

Some of my favorite memories are of heading to the pool almost daily with my mom and brothers during hot Chicago summers — I still have no idea how my mom managed to make time for h o u r s of splashing around while raising a busy family and home but I’m forever grateful that she did.

Not to get too sappy and sentimental, but it’s a good reminder that we won’t get these days of raising little humans back. Even more sobering is that our kids won’t get their childhood days back either… Thankful for companies like Olivia + Ocean that make it easier to be present and playful while we’re in the thick of it.

Love you guys!

xo, Rae

Images by Morgan Pansing




Earth Day is today and my kids have been sharing all kinds of new-to-them info about different ways to take care of this sweet and beautiful earth that takes such good care of us. So far they’ve picked up most of these tips from school so I thought it was time to do a little schooling at home… not that I taught them anything new, but we did do some up-cycling and planting!

Here’s how we made our UP-CYCLED TIN CAN HERB GARDEN:

upcycled tin can herb garden-9921

You’ll Need

  • .5-inch and/or .75-inch alphabet stickers (we used .5-inch for the water can and .75-inch for all the other tins)
  • Empty tin cans (the cilantro is in a larger ‘crushed tomato’ can
  • Drill & bit or nail and hammer
  • Acrylic paint & brushes
  • Painter’s tape
  • Rocks from the yard
  • Soil
  • Plants or seeds

To Make the Cans – Clean and dry empty cans. Use a drill and bit or nail and hammer to make 3 or 4 holes in the bottom for water to drain. Place alphabet stickers as desired on can. Use painters tape for a dipped paint look, on the opposite end of the can from stickers. Paint until can is covered, drying in between coats if needed.

upcycled tin can herb garden-9905

To Plant Herbs – Place 3 or so rocks in the bottom of can. Add soil and the plant, filling with more soil as needed.

upcycled tin can herb garden-9939 upcycled tin can herb garden-9943 upcycled tin can herb garden-9941 upcycled tin can herb garden-9976

Then water…. and try a taste of each herb.

upcycled tin can herb garden-9978

upcycled tin can herb garden-9998

Or make your big sis do it.

Clip sprigs anytime they are needed for a fancy drink, garnish or dish!

upcycled tin can herb garden-9989

It’s sweet to see their passion for the earth and environment. Until they give me a hard time about using too much water or remind me that the microwave is much more efficient than the oven. Lols.

Do your kids ever so the same?

We’ve come so far from the days of ‘Give a hoot, don’t pollute’! It was such a fresh, new concept when I was young (or at least that’s how I remember it?).

XO, Rae



Whether you’re not ready to say goodbye to your summer wardrobe or there’s a summery dress or romper on sale that you can’t pass up but don’t want to wait until next year to wear, here are three ways to style them as the weather cools off!

DENIM + SNEAKERS | denim jacket is old from J. Crew (love this one and this one too), dress is from J.Crew (love this one!), sneakers are vans from madewell

A no-brainer combo and casual enough for errands, school drop offs, coffee dates, the park and cleaning up spilled milk!

LONG CARDI (DUSTER) + BOOTS | cardigan is old from topshop (love this one similar from nordstromrack for $26 or nordstrom for $49), dress is from J.Crew (love this one!), boots are old from zara (similar)

I’ve had these boots forever and think they add the perfect amount of edge to balance out a long floral dress and cardigan.

SWEATER + BOOTIES | sweater is from free people (similar option — wore it weekly last winter and spring and want this one in black), hat is from target, booties are old from madewell (similar), dress is from J.Crew (love this one!)

My personal favorite outfit of the three. Also wore this combo with a romper last Sunday and loved it even more (I’ll post it on my stories today and then save to the #ootd highlight!). A couple notes… a longer tunic type sweater works better with a shorter dress or romper and I would opt for a more cropped or fitted sweater with a longer dress. I kept having to bunch/fluff/fold under for the pics to give me a waist.

Which one is your favorite?

Are you ready for fall layers?

XO, Rae



A few days ago upon arriving at the spash pad in a neighboring town, I overheard a girl say, “What is Espen doing here!?” to her friends — and then they all grabbed towels and huddled in a spot where they could observe and chat and giggle. So I think it’s safe to say we’ve arrived at the awkward, innocent and still so, so sweet stage of middle-school-hood. Or tweenager as it’s often referred to where their world is getting big but they are still very much young. I’ve learned by now not to say it’s my favorite stage – because they’re really all my favorite — but I love it, for it’s highs and lows and purpose — it makes me tear up how each stage of childhood weaves together – none any more or less important. Just wish it didn’t all fly by so fast!

It’s been so much fun doing our interview video series the last few months and I’m excited to share Espen’s below! Feels a little bit like we are bottling them up at these specific ages each time I watch them. This interview surprised Johan and me the most… it’s always the quiet ones, LOL!!! Press play to find out what Espen (the introvert of the fam) likes and dislikes about being 1 of 5 kids, who he get’s along with most, and what some of his favorite things are.

Love so much that our very consistent and predictable child was so unpredictable with his answers. You may also notice my question about his favorite sport and needing to know his runner up too… Johan and I have a quiet competition going – both of us sneakily wanting our kids to love our favorite sport. So far Johan is blowing me out of the water with our two older boys being diehard baseball players, but I’m holding out hope for Tilly and Griff, lol! Truthfully we don’t really care, but it is fun to tease each other about it.

You can watch Tilly’s video HERE and Griffin’s HERE. Next up is Poppy and then Ozzie! Should probably do ones for Johan and me too. Let me know if the comments if you have any question requests or ideas!!!

A few pics from Espen’s birthday morning and our traditional breakfast in bed…

Birthday breakkies in bed are a big deal around here (because is there anything better than eating in bed?!). The kids almost always ask for crepes or donuts but this year Espen requested dutch babies with a side of fruit and scrambled eggs and I loved being able to make something different than our norm!

Almost as good as the B-day kids excitement for their special morning is seeing how excited their siblings get to make the morning special for them too. It’s definitely a family affair and the sweetest thing to watch! Hope it’s something they continue as the littlest ones get older and the bigger ones become young adults… I imagine them sneaking into each others apartments with balloons and donuts or showing up at their school with a fun treat. No pressure kids, LOL!

Espen, we love you to the moon and back times 100 and are so incredibly proud of who you are and how you love, lead and serve others. It’s pure magic to watch.

Do you guys ever daydream about your kids 10 or more years down the road!?




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned for BTS goodies next week!

XO, Rae

PS – are we Instagram friends yet?

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