Category Archives: 31 days

Day 31: A little perspective

It’s the final day of the 31 days to a closer family challenge! Can you believe it? I certainly can. I’d thought I’d finish up this series with a little perspective on how it turned out for our family, but let’s start with how incredibly happy I am not to write another post of about this. That was definitely the hardest part of this challenge. The night’s where we could hardly squeeze in family time were made even more difficult by having to sit down afterwards to write about our experiences. I love sharing the details of our lives with all of you, but I am very happy to be able to do it on my time table again.

Our favorites

So to start with I think it’s safe to say that we barely stuck to the schedule we started with; however, the schedule did provide us with an outline and ideas for those nights when we had to pull something out of thin air. And there were plenty of nights when we did pull an idea out of thin air or something just fell into place all on it’s own. Not every night provided great quality time but here were a few of our favorites:

Cody:Family Bike ride and Camping under the roof

Stephanie: Tea Party and Dance Party

Sophie: Gymnastics night and Wolfie Pie’s Birthday

Lizzie: Field Day and Cookie Monsters

 

Results of the challenge

You may remember back in the introduction for this challenge I mentioned that part of the reason we were doing it was because as a family we were incredibly stressed out, the kids were acting out, and we weren’t spending much time together. So, you probably want to know now if completing the challenge helped at all. I thought I’d illustrate with two short scenarios that really happened.

#1- 31 days ago

I came home from work tired but missing seeing the kids after just going back to work after a year off. I walked in the door and saw Lizzie. As I smiled at her she started screaming and ran to Cody. When I tried to take her from Cody she freaked out started screaming “no” and lunged back for him.  This happened almost everyday for 2 weeks. I want to cry……

#2- yesterday

I got home from work at 7:00 PM. I was tired from a long busy day. As I walk up the front steps Lizzie sees me coming and runs to the door and starts clapping her hands. When I open the door and smile at her she starts dancing and then throws her arms up yelling “mama up”. The best part of my day!

Since starting this challenge both kids have stopped acting out. No more temper tantrums, no more being mad at one parent or the other. Sophie asks every night what we are going to do for family time. When I tried to explain to her that the challenge was now over, she didn’t take it well. So despite it sometimes being a pain in the butt I would say we have successfully accomplished what we set out to do: bring our family closer together. So where so we go from here? We have no intentions of continuing to schedule out our family time or stressing about getting it in everyday, but we have found that spending quality time together has become more natural. I find myself putting down my work to read a book or cuddle on the couch without feeling resentful. I no longer feel the need to jump on the computer the second I get home and start working either.

I’m so glad we decided to take up this challenge and I hope you will too!  If you decide to take it on please leave a comment and let us know how it is going for you!

31 days to a closer family

 

Day 30: Halloween Family Style

Tonight is Halloween and the kids are super excited, but let’s face it. Halloween isn’t exactly a family holiday.  We decided to up the quality time by inviting some of girl’s friends over to our home for trick or treating this year.

halloween

We served pizza for dinner and the kids were able to all get ready together. At 6:00 we headed outside to hit the sidewalks. We didn’t think it was fair for any parent to get left behind to hand out candy, so we left a bowl on our fronts steps, and surprisingly there was still some left when we got home. Trick or treating was a lot of fun.  Us adults had thermoses full of spiked cider and the kids had buckets full of candy.  They were all so cute running around together and the older kids gave extra special help to the younger ones. It will be hard for future Halloween’s to live up to this one!

 

31 days to a closer family

Day 29: Hanging Out

Today was one of those days that I almost forgot about family time, but then I realized we had been spending quality time together all evening. I played tag with the girls, we had tickle time, and we curled up on the coach and just hung out and talked. I had to remind myself that one of my goals for this challenge back on day 1 was not to over plan activities and tonight was a perfect reminder that sometimes the best times together just happen. After baths me and the girls curled back up on the couch to read a Halloween Story. This family time stuff is starting to become second nature to us.

31 days to a closer family

Day 28: Pumpkin Carving

It’s only natural that after going pumpkin picking 2 days ago  that it was time to carve the pumpkins.  Cleaning the pumpkins out was pretty fun. Sophie was really into it, but Lizzie was surprisingly tepid for a kid who like to smear her food everywhere.

pumpkin carving

Sophie wanted a Princess Sofia pumpkin while Lizzie picked out an Aurora design. I was only 1/4 through poking holes on the pumpkin when I decided this was a bad idea. It was taking forever, the kids couldn’t really help, and both Cody and I were frustrated.  Sophie asked every 2 minutes if we were done yet, so I finally gave in and put them in the bath to give Cody some time to get ahead. The princess Sofia pumpkin actually came out pretty good.

Sofia Pumpkin

Unfortunately, I broke my carving tool just after I began working on the Aurora pumpkin and when Cody tried to help he messed it up too bad to compensate, so Lizzie got an old fashion Jack-o-lantern. Poor Boo. She always gets the shaft. I’m already looking forward to the year that they can carve there own pumpkins.

 

31 days to a closer family

Day 26: Create a Tradition

Kid’s love traditions! They love them even more when they are holiday oriented. So, today I challenge you to create a family tradition (or engage in one you already have).

One tradition we started when Sophie was born was going pumpkin picking every fall at a local farm. This was the first year that Lizzie actually knew what was going on (and could walk), so it was a lot more fun! We were smart this year and remembered to bring our wagon to carry our haul. Lizzie really wanted to ride with the pumpkins and Sophie decided that as the resident “big girl” in the family it was her job to pull Lizzie around. Que the super cute picture shots!

pumpkin picking

It helped that we had fantastic weather this year too. Now we just have to decide how we want to carve them. The girls already have some ideas in mind and they all involve princesses….. And just for kicks I put this together:

pumpkin collage

Your turn: What are your favorite family traditions?

31 days to a closer family

 

Day 25: Party Time

Tonight we hosted our first party at the new house. It was a birthday/housewarming/birthday party.  See, Cody and his sister have the same birthday 5 years apart, so we decided to just throw one big party! Because it was such a busy day getting ready for the party we knew family time was going to be difficult, so we decided to actively engage the kids in helping set-up.  Sophie helped me make the punch and set out all the food. They both helped Cody blow-up balloons and distribute them through the house. Sophie even helped clean up her room and the playroom! Lizzie decided she was best suited to being the cupcake guard and while we had our backs turned she ate three cupcakes in a matter of minutes! Here she is looking not a bit guilty about it either:

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Typically, we would have ignored the kids or locked them up somewhere (playroom maybe?) in order to focus on everything we needed to accomplish, but it was really nice to have them help. Not only were they less annoying then if we had tried to keep them away, but I feel like they were even more excited about the party because they felt like they had ownership of it too. Sophie was a great hostess and made sure all her friends saw everything she helped with!

 

31 days to a closer family

Day 24: The family that paints together…..

…makes a huge mess. But of course I knew that was coming when I got the idea for this project. Tonight’s quality time is actually part of a art installation I have an idea for the family room. I do a llot of art projects with the kids, and I’m typically very directive, but tonight I decided to give them free reign.  The only rules were you we had to use the colors I picked and you had to paint a white square paper, otherwise you could do whatever you wanted.

art

Sophie, Cody, and I used a variety of brushes to create our art, but Lizzie just preferred to use her feet. We did indeed create a mess, but luckily we laid down a plastic drop cloth in the dining room ahead of time and put aprons on the kids. It also helped that bath time as directly after art time. It was a fun evening and I’m really proud of how into the kids got. Here are our master pieces drying:

art I can’t wait to show you my plans for them!

Your turn: How do you display your child’s artwork?

31 days to a closer family

Day 23: Cookie Monsters

Today while we were on our weekly Pizza buying trip to Papa Murphy’s I decided to pick-up a tub of their pre-made cookie dough. Cookie making is not necessarily new to our family, but tonight I decided to let the girls go at it of their own and get a little dirty. Sophie did an awesome job, but Lizzie wasn’t really interested in doing any actual work for her cookies. For some reason it never dawned on me that she would just eat the raw cookie dough, but that of course is what she immediately did. When I tried to get a picture of her she actually photo-blocked me with her hand.

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Apparently at the ripe old age of 22 months, having your mom take pictures of you while eating is already lame.  Sigh….. We let them bake during bath time. Then enjoyed them cuddled up on the couch watching Strawberry Shortcake.

 

31 days to a closer family

Day 22: When life gives you lemons….

….you make a lemonade stand, duh! While I was working on the computer this afternoon Sophie sauntered into the office to ask if I had an empty cardboard box. My mom instincts immediately went on high alert as I asked her, “why?” She showed me this picture from an American girl catalog and told me she wanted to build one herself.

lemonade stand

I don’t know if I was more proud that she didn’t ask me to buy it for her or that she came up with her own DIY project! It just so happens that I have tons of cardboard boxes laying around, so we picked out the one that was the right size then I printed her out a picture of some lemons to color. I tried to let her creative juices flow by standing back as she colored. I did have to spell out Lemonade for her but otherwise this project was all hers. Once we put the stand all together we scrounged up a glass drink dispenser, some cups, and some play lemons.

lemonade stand

Lizzie was super impressed with the set-up when she woke up from her nap. She particularly like sitting on top of the stand. When Cody got home from work we were all set up for a family lemonade stand! It was so much fun seeing Sophie create something all on her own.  I even sneaked a peak at Lizzie pretending to pour herself some lemonade and drinking it. It’s one of the first times I’ve actually seen her “get” what pretend means.

 

31 days to a closer family

Day 21: Cuddle Time

Today was one of those days when I thought we might just skip family time. Sophie was up most of last night coughing, and while she seemed to be feeling better by this evening it meant we were all pretty tired by time I got home from work around 7:00. It was tempting to just put the kids to bed. Instead I threw them on our new sectional and decided it was time to just cuddle. We talked about what they did today (or rather Sophie regaled us with her and Lizzie’s stories). When we ran out of things to talk about we looked through an American Girl catalog together and talked about what all the dolls were doing, where they were from, and most importantly what Sophie wanted for Christmas. It was a nice quiet evening and I am really glad we didn’t skip it.

 

Your turn: Have you ever had a great time doing nothing at all with your kids?

31 days to a closer family