Archive | THINGS WE LOVE

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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WORK + PLAY: VINTAGE POOL DAYS + A PRETTY FLORAL I DESIGNED FOR OLIVIA + OCEAN

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

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THINGS WE LOVE: AN EASTER BASKET ROUND UP

I love finding fun items to fill the kids’ Easter baskets with, but it can be soooo easy for things to get out of control, lol. There’s so much cute stuff out there and honestly, lots of things they could use now that it’s spring. So I always try to stick to a loose theme or two. This year I’m filling their baskets with activities and accessories for rainy spring days or baseball games… and of course pajamas. Always pajamas!


HERE’S WHAT’S IN THE GIRL’S BASKETS |

HERE’S WHAT’S IN THE BOY’S BASKETS |

Shared a sneak peak on Instagram Stories yesterday if you want to go check it out! And of course Ozzie and his girlfriend are getting Easter baskets too, but they’re much more present on social media than the other kids so I didn’t want to spoil anything…

A few things I’m filling their baskets with if you need any ideas for older teenagers | a couple WSU things (like these sunnies), this cute scrunchie, bibles from She Reads Truth and He Reads Truth, water bottles, ChatBooks and bathroom caddies for the dorms as their baskets! Ha!

Cannot wait to set everyone’s basket out on Easter morning! Also can’t wait for all the egg hunting, mimosa sipping and cinnamon roll eating.

xo, Rae

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SPRING WARDROBE WISHLIST

We’ve been enjoying spring and all that comes with it… including the change in wardrobe! Even though the weather can be unpredictable and isn’t often warm around here, it’s been fun finding ways to incorporate spring-ish items into outfits. After cleaning out my closet and getting a good idea of what holes could be filled, I spent sometime adding things to my online shopping carts (where most of it will stay, lol) and turned them into outfit options below. Take a peek and let me know which combo is your favorite!

outfit no. 1 | cardigan, crisscross slides, wide leg pants (but I love these and these too!)

outfit no. 2 | levis (under $100), peasant top, chore coat

outfit no. 3 | utility shirt (doubles as a coat), woven slingback, wrap dress

outfit no. 4 | sweatshirt, midi skirt, high-tops

outfit no. 5 | striped tee, crisscross slides, slipdress

outfit no. 6 | carpenter jeans (also under $100), striped silk top (need to find one that’s machine washable), sandals

I was kinda surprised by the lack of pastels, but really love that most of these items will also work through summer and into the fall.

Would you guys like to see my spring picks for the kids or husband?

xo, Rae

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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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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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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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STOCKING UP ON FALL ESSENTIALS

A little round up of things we’ve been stocking up on in preparation of fall, the holidays and time spent cozied up indoors or wet and cold outdoors. Also included a couple things I’ll be using in posts and projects coming up on the blog and instagram too!

one | so soft and cozy and only $15-$18 per set. so many colors to choose from that are especially perfect if you’re a fan of festive jammies but hate spending on things that go “out of season” so quickly. snagged a few different colors for griffin and poppy here + here. great for adding layers under snow and rain gear too!

two | knee high socks are so cute and great for little ones that don’t like tights!

three | time to stock up on boots and these were too adorable not to share.

four | inside means we’ll be baking and cooking a lot more. even with endless recipes to search on pinterest, there’s something special and refreshing about cooking from a cookbook. lots to choose from but have been using magnolia table (found at costco) and what’s gaby cooking (more summery foods but still fall-worthy!) lots lately.

five | we’ll be making ghost cookies over the weekend and would love you to join us!

six | just in case you need a new serving tray. love this one so much. you can also find a darker blue (even thought it says black) one here.

seven | i started giving the kids these probiotics just before they went back to school and they’ve kept everyone healthy and their tummies feeling good too… i would for sure grab a bottle before everyone’s sugar intake goes up with all the Halloween parties!

eight | tilly has plans to make slime to handout to classmates and friends for halloween and i thought these containers would be the perfect thing to package it in. along with a spider or googly eyes. will try and share a slime tutorial on stories tomorrow after school!

nine | we love our instax! actually it’s tilly’s (great christmas gift idea!) but we all use it. just stocked up on more film to use for making place cards for thanksgiving dinner.

ten | a coloring poster saved my sanity more than once last winter and spring so thought I’d buy one and save it for the next time we were all cooped up and struggling. ha! these coloring and activity posters look great too and are a bigger scale for younger kids.

Do you guys usually think ahead and stock up on stuff or buy as you need?

Also curious what you are most likely to purchase from the roundup above!?

Happy Wednesday!

xo, Rae

PS – did you see our mummy moves from last night?

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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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THINGS WE LOVE: BEET WORLD + PAINTED FALL LEAVES

I love a good classic. Whether its a song, movie, meal or decoration, but more than anything I love a classic style and will often look for pieces to add to the kids’ wardrobes (and mine too). Problem is, classic styles are often stuffy and restrictive and have my kids pulling at their neck holes and itching to change into sweats. Enter Beet World, a local to Seattle, mom owned business that makes timeless dresses, tops, skirts and pants for girls that are also roomy and soft. A must for my girls who are active and prefer getting dirty and playing chase around the jungle gym to looking prim and proper.

Ashima, the mama behind Beet World, was sweet enough to send us a box of goodies for the girls and they loved all of it! Poppy didn’t waste anytime wearing one of her new dresses and then on Sunday they both wore a few of the pieces to church followed by a trip to the park and playground nearby.

The weather was beautiful so we decided to collect leaves to paint and check it off the fall bucket list!!!

  

TILLY’S WEARING this top and these cute pants

POPPY’S WEARING this blue stripe dress and this sweet dress in the Instagram pic

Everything washed well (hot cocoa even came out of Poppy’s light pink dress!) and  fit true to size. Tilly is wearing 9-10Y. Poppy wore size 3-4Y.

  

Luckily all the leaves were dry so after a little lunch, we started painting! The girls got creative, made self portrait leaves (the green eyed leaf is Tilly), added glitter and needed zero inspiration. I on the other hand took a quick peek at pinterest and found so many ideas!

Aren’t they cute (see below)!? Now we just need to decide how to display them… maybe a garland or taped to their bedroom doors?

Thank you for supporting the businesses and in this case, new friend and mama, that support this blog! Take a peek at the Beet World site and pick out a thing or two for all those pumpkin patch pics coming up. Also can’t wait to see what she comes out with for the holiday season! Hopefully it includes a plaid shirt like Tilly’s in my size :)

XOXO, Rae

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COTTON CANDY, ROLLER COASTERS + GAMES OH MY!

I might not have gotten their rain boot memo, but I definitely caught their carnival bug. It might be cliche, but there is something extra special about experiencing things with kids. They get excited about the best stuff and everything at the fair, from walking thought the barns of animals to hopping on rides to trying to win a stuffy at a game booth, is such a big deal. Makes it hard not to get lost in the magic.

We usually try to keep our fair outings to a pretty tight budget. This time however, the kids had been working towards a fair trip by earning tickets all summer so we went all out and it felt really good to be able to say yes to just about anything (with the exception of wanting to stay longer, lol).

We took little video clips of our outing on my iPhone and Johan strung them together in a quick video… press play below! Also shared a few budget friendly fair tips and tricks at the bottom of the post… because who wants to drop $100+ at the fair when there’s a cute pair of shoes you’ve had your eye on :)

Tilly really wanted to go on the swing ride but was super nervous about it so I offered to go with and then acted super brave like their was nothing to worry about. I honestly thought she was going to bail on me right before the ride started. However, the second it got going, Tilly was loving it (can you spot her above!?) and I was the one holding on for dear life, lol. At one point Tilly (who had obviously noticed my sudden change of demeanor and stomach turning) yelled over to me, “MOM! If you’re scared, just close your eyes!” Gah! My little girl that used to run-off any chance she got and tackle people during library reading time, was looking out for me… definitely a full circle kinda moment. Gosh I love her!

Thankful that these three were mostly happy with the little kid rides (winninggggg!)! Although, Poppy was not a fan of the mouse rollercoaster… did you spot her expression on the video as they were getting off?

Tilly’s been all about the Instax lately. A great kid gift idea… say cheese!

I’ve been thinking about getting the kids disposable cameras to use for special occasions. Can’t remember the last time I developed film but definitely remember what a fun surprise it was to see how the pictures turned out!

The games were a huge hit this time around. They kept trying to win the giant stuffed animals, but in the end their blow up hammers (a guaranteed win) were their favorite. They are currently banned from the house and have been mostly played with on the trampoline, but I can’t wait until they pop, LOL.

Happy Monday!!!

XO, Rae

PS – I got a few questions about budget friendly fair trips so here are a few tips… 1. spend lots of time with the farm animals. 2. do the research and take advantage of the free play areas AND shows. Any magic or juggling performers are usually a big hit with my kids. 3. eat a big meal before you get to the fair! 4. let the kids know what to expect (i.e. they can pick one treat to share like cotton candy and how many rides/games they get to pick, etc.) — I’ve found when the kids were younger and even poppy now, that you can get away with doing/not doing just about everything (LOL) and their admission is free so it’s actually a really good time to go!

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