Category Archives: 31 days

Day 10: Spa Party

It’s another evening of just us girls, so we decided to have a spa party!  First we applied mud masks to our faces. The girls loved getting to paint their faces green. They kept running up to the fireplace to see their reflections in the glass.

I apologize for the crappy picture quality but my good camera died just as I went to take the first picture, so these were all taken on my camera phone.

spa party

While the mud masks were drying we painted our nails. Sophie picked out pink nail polish with sparkles in it (shocker). Soph’s an old pro at getting her nails painted but it’s still pretty new to Lizzie. She wasn’t quite understanding the don’t move part of the equation. Here she is not so patiently waiting for her nails to dry.

spa party

It was a nice relaxing evening overall. We even found a Disney station on Pandora so we could rock out to our favorite songs from the movies. For me it was kind of like hitting two birds with one stone: spend quality time with the kids and do something about how oily my skin has gotten. This is an activity we will definitely be repeating. Maybe next time we’ll get Daddy involved 🙂 31 days to a closer family


Day 9: Dance Party

Dance parties were something we used to do all the time at our old house, but we haven’t had one since June due to all the moving. The kids were pretty excited about doing it again tonight (so excited that I’m pretty sure they’re going to ask for one every night for the rest of the week). Our kids like to watch the music videos as they dance so we hook our laptop up to the TV in the family room and play the videos off YouTube. To get good sound we hook the TV to our iPod speaker dock. We let everyone pick a couple of their favorite songs to play. Here is our playlist from tonight:

  1. Mama Mia- Abba
  2. Super Trouper- Abba
  3. Party Rock Anthem- LMFAO
  4. 22- Taylor Swift
  5. Royals- Lorde
  6. Can’t Hold Us- Macklemore
  7. Counting Stars- One Republic
  8. People Like us- Kelly Clarkson
  9. Come and Get it- Selena Gomez
  10. This ain’t a scene- Fall Out Boy

*These are affiliate link buts if you click on them you can play a sample of each song….just in case we have different musical tastes and you have no idea what these songs are 🙂

We had a lot of fun together. After about the 4th song Sophie was the only one still dancing though. The rest of us were pooped and trying to recover on the couch. All the shuffling in Party Rock Anthem really took it out of us. Even after we stopped dancing; however, we still all cuddled together and kept singing.  This was by far my favorite activity we have done together so far!


31 days to a closer family

Day 8: Camping under the roof

I had a late night at work tonight, so as I was driving home I started to think about what we could do for our quality family time this evening. I didn’t want a repeat of last night where I almost forgot about the whole thing. Cody had told me on the phone that the kids were behaving tonight but making quite a mess in the house, so I wasn’t that surprised when I was met at the door by a smiling Sophie who wanted to show me a big surprise in the playroom. I braced myself for the mess they had made only to be met by our family’s tent which had been erected in the play room.


It winds up Cody and the girl’s had spent the previous hour erecting the tent, we’ve maybe used once before, and preparing a dinner for all of us to have in it. Surprises of this nature are not common in our household. Cody is a fantastic father and husband but planning is exactly his strong suit. It was so nice to come home and not have plan anything for once. I didn’t have to worry about dinner or family activities. Sigh….what a relief. The novelty of eating inside a tent won the kids over immediately and they have now decided we must go on a  real camping trip. Cody and I are game but we told them there would be no singing of “Trouble” by Taylor Swift around the campfire! That deflated Sophie a little, at least until we started singing “Hakuna Matata” and told her we would all learn it before we go camping together. Overall it was a very enjoyable evening. I found I was able to enjoy it even more because I wasn’t in charge of anything. And after Cody sort of bowed out on family time last night, I’m really glad that he got to make up for it with extra time with the girls tonight. Now I better get on planning that camping trip……..


Your turn: What trip would you love to bring your children on?

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Day 7: Family Story Time

It almost happened. One week into the 31 day challenge, and I almost totally forgot about it!  It was a challenging night for Cody. I got home late from work and both kids were super fussy after a day spent at the pumpkin patch. Needless to say it was not a happy household that I walked into.  We fed the kids then rushed them off to the bath and pretty much put Lizzie right to bed. Things were just starting to settle down when I realized we had totally skipped family time.  With one kid already to bed and Cody definitely not in the mood (plus he was in the middle of trying to hook up our new dishwasher….yay!) it was pretty tempting to just skip it tonight. However, I decided a little bit of quality time with half the family was better than none, so Sophie and I decided to have a story time together.

story time

We read Sophie a book every night before bed, but this time I let her pick out 4 books. This was a huge treat for her. I usually feel like I rush through story time. I audibly sigh when she picks a long book, and Cody has been known to throw out his parental veto if he thinks a book is too wordy, but tonight I really wanted to relax and not feel rushed, so I let her pick any books she wanted. I even made an effort to talk to her about the book and ask her questions like “what do you think Max’s mom made for dinner?” and “who would you invite to your slumber party?” It was actually pretty nice to curl up just the two of us. While Lizzie likes books there is no way she would have sat quietly for the time it took to read 4 of them and Cody’s so stressed right now that his frustration probably would have infected us all. Sophie even went right to bed afterwards without even asking to watch one more episode of her favorite show.

Your turn: What are your family’s favorite books?

Day 6: Field Day

We’ve be blessed with another beautiful fall evening here in Virginia, so we decided to take advantage of it with a trip to our neighborhood park for a field day. I choose a field day instead of just a park visit because going to the park usually entails:

kids on play equipment + mommy and daddy watching from the bench = not a lot of quality time together.

The plan was to have mini races of running, skipping, jumping and other activities. At 2 and 4 my kids think running is one of the best games ever invented, so when I cam up with the idea of a field day I thought I was one clever mama. Off we went to this fantastic field that the city maintains next your our neighborhood park.

field day I must have been having a brain fart today or I’m actually starting to lose brain cells from inhaling too many paint fumes, but apparently I forgot a cardinal parenting rule: once kids see a playground all bets are off.  We did manage to get them to run around and jump with us for a few minutes, but it was obvious that the park was a constant distraction for them. After about 5 minutes of running around, we gave in and took the kids to the play ground.

sophie and daddy We did make an effort to engage them in play instead of just sitting on the bench. And let me tell you sitting on the bench was very enticing with the beautiful sunset and light breeze blowing my hair.  Luckily there is a decent little walk back to the car where we all got to play and chase each other again. I even managed to get Cody to take a picture with me in it.

field day So while our original plans fell through (something that we knew was bound to happen) we still had a great time together. I wish this weather would last forever, because it does seem to put everyone in a better mood.

Your turn: Have you ever planned a fun filled day that your kid’s weren’t interest in?

This post is part of the 31 days to a closer family series.

Day 4: Date your Spouse

31 days to a closer family

I know, this isn’t exactly a revolutionary idea on my part, but as parent’s we tend to neglect our own needs in favor of our kid’s.  Personally, I rate having a healthy marriage as just about as important for your kids as being fed and clothed. In a society that often seems to not emphasize commitment and monogamy, I think it’s vital that parent’s show their children how a happy, stable marriage works (the good parts as well as the difficult). With that being said, the challenge today is to have a child free date. You can do whatever you want as long as includes both spouses having uninterrupted quality time together. I had always planned to include a date night as part of this challenge, but I hadn’t anticipated it happening quite so soon. When my mom called the other night to ask if she could have the kids overnight; however, I knew not to look a gift horse in the mouth.

date night
A night with no kids? Whatever shall we do with ourselves?

At first we weren’t really sure what to do. We didn’t want to spend a lot of money and we both seemed to be feeling pretty lazy. In the end our plans were dictated by my need to go to Pottery Barn. I’ll admit now that the night started out pretty rough. I wasn’t in a particularly good mood and didn’t really feel like doing anything. Cody was late getting home from work, then decided he had to get some work done for a friend before we could go out. Lizzie was extra whiny from an interrupted nap at daycare. By time we reached my mom’s to drop off the kids we were both pretty much giving each other the silent treatment. At the mall we did some shopping then grabbed dinner at the food court. Afterwards we headed across the street where the city had blocked off a street for live music. We wandered around for a while, but neither of us were really feeling it, so we headed back to the mall to catch a movie. We stood reading the movie marquee sign for a while, but gave up when we didn’t recognize a single movie that was actually playing. At this point I was pretty bummed. We were no longer bickering, but I wasn’t really feeling the closeness and giddiness that I usually attribute to date nights. I decided to drown my woes in a chocolate chai tea latte. 30 minutes later we found ourselves at the Redbox at Harris Teeter trying to pick out a movie. They had Avengers, G I Joe, Gatsby, and a lot of others but neither of us seemed too excited about any until we found Beautiful Creatures. I guess it’s about time we admit to ourselves that we have a definite soft spot for supernatural teenage love stories.  It was at this point we actually started to enjoy each other again. We left the store with a movie, a bottle of wine, and a case of beer.

date night
Ingredients for a great date night

At home we prepared our drinks and started the movie. I have to say we enjoyed ourselves immensely. The awkwardness of the early evening melted away as we cuddled and  lost ourselves in the story. Perhaps we were just trying too hard before. If I’ve learned anything from this evening it’s that we enjoy ourselves the most at home just hanging out. Now I’m just hoping we get to continue to enjoy ourselves by sleeping in very, very late tomorrow morning.

Your turn: What’s your favorite date night ritual? Have you had any aborted date nights?

Day 3: Feeding the Obsession

31 days to a closer family

Welcome to 31 days to a closer family! I call day 3’s activity “Feeding the Obsession”. The goal is to pick one of your child’s newest obsessions and explore it further together as a family. I love this activity because it will

  1. Keep your child’s interest since it is something they love.
  2. Push your child to explore and learn new things about their newest obsession.
  3. Engage the whole family in the child’s newest interest.

Ever since I brought home that silver tea set from the thrift store (I shared it previously with my Facebook fans) the girls have been obsessed with having a tea party. Since Thursdays are girls nights in our house (Cody has grad school) I thought it was the perfect opportunity to have a fancy dancy real live tea party! I told the girls about it this morning and they were excited all day. Nothing like building up the anticipation. I set the coffee table with a tablecloth, runner, tea set, and vintage tea cups and saucers that I inherited from Cody’s grandparents.

tea party

At this point Sophie started to get a little concerned about have a “real” tea party and started demanding that we have a “pretend” one instead. I distracted her by have us all dress up for the party. We all picked our favorite dresses and put on necklaces and big bows in our hair. If I owned large hats we would’ve totally rocked those, but we had to make do with bows and flowers instead. Finally, we got to sit down to our tea. I choose an Cinnamon Apple Spice herbal tea (warning: super yummy affiliate link)for our first try. I showed the girls how to put the bags into our tea cups, then I poured the hot water in (I also explained that only adults were allowed to pour the water). Lizzie unfortunately got excited and ripped her bag open and poured into her cup. Next, I showed them how to add sugar from the sugar bowl. This was Lizzie’s favorite part; however, all the sugar seemed to make it into her mouth and not into her cup. We stirred our tea and gave it some tea to steep (and cool down).

tea party

We’ve taken to having pizza on Thursday nights and our newest obsession is Papa Murphy’s. If you haven’t tried it yet you are missing out. They’re a pizza franchise but all the pizza’s are take and bake. Because they are not frozen they only take 12 minutes to cook. Anyways, we ate our pizza as we let our tea steep. Finally it was tea time. Sophie was convinced the whole time that she wasn’t going to like the tea. I convinced her that it was going to taste like warm apple juice. She finally gave in and tried it. She was the first one to finish her tea.  We practiced how to sip from our tea cup and even how to drink with our pinkie’s out. Everyone had a great time. I got to sit across from Lizzie who spent the whole time playing footsie with me and giggling.

tea party

Overall we had a great time. The girl’s now know how to make their own tea and Sophie even has a new appreciation for drinking it. I think there will be plenty of tea parties in my future. Oh, and since the city finally turned our water back on, we were able to follow up tea time with bath time! Unfortunately, that also means I have no excuse not to wash the dishes tonight….

Your turn: What is your child’s newest obsession?

Day 2: Child Led Instruction

31 days to a closer family

It’s finally here! Our first official day of the 31 Days to a Closer Family Challenge, and boy were we challenged today. The afternoon started with a bad experience at Benjamin Moore (after making Cody wait for 15 minutes the sales lady basically told him she didn’t have time to help him today and to come back later). I’ve had really good experiences with Benjamin Moore before, so I was totally bummed that we might have to stop patronizing them because of poor customer service. Luckily the little old guy who usually helps me literally chased Cody down in the parking lot after he saw him storm out of the store and offered to help. Crisis slightly averted. Until Cody got home from work and found out our water had been cut off. Apparently the city actually expects you to pay your bill on time, although to be fair it would have been nice if they had actually sent us a bill in the first place. Our first utility bills are just starting to roll in, so I wasn’t exactly suspicious that it hadn’t shown up yet. We paid the bill over the phone, but since it was after 3PM our water won’t be turned on until tomorrow. Oh well, the kids didn’t really need a bath or to poop anyways. And on the plus side I get out of hand scrubbing all the dishes in the pedestal sink for one night. Who knew there was a plus side to getting your water cut off?  I’m mostly annoyed that after only 14 days of being late they actually sent someone all the way to our house to turn off the water without trying to contact us to let us know. I’ve never not paid a utility bill on time, but I always kind of assumed they just kept charging you late fees for a couple of months before cutting you off. After the pediment debacle it seems as if we’ve been attracting poor customer service lately.

If you are wondering what this all has to do with family time, I’m getting there. At the time that Cody was trying to handle the water company (I was still at work) he was also trying to juggle a conference call for work and a whiny Lizzie who got a short nap due to a field trip at day care (a trip that included my 4 year riding unrestrained in a booster seat…..don’t get me started). This kind of night usually ends with one cranky family at dinner and the kids rushed off to bed early so mommy and daddy can drown their bad day in wine and a Pretty Little Liars marathon. But not today! Today was our first official day of making quality family time a priority and it seemed like bad sport to bow out already, so after a rather uneventful dinner we moved to the family room for some together time.

Child led instruction doesn’t sound like much fun. I really tried to come up with a snappier title, but I had a long day (see above) and that’s the best I could do tonight. The concept I was going for is to pick a hobby of your child’s (particularly one they are good at) and have them teach the whole family. The idea is not only to engage the whole family in the child’s hobby but also to boost their self-esteem by deeming them the resident expert. One great thing about this challenge is it works for any aged child and for any type of hobby. Since my children are on the young side I was the one to decide what hobby we went with and I choose gymnastics (as per the schedule). Sophie has been doing gymnastics for the past year ( you may remember the recent Gymnastics Birthday Party) , so she was our resident expert. Lizzie has been dying to start gymnastics herself, but she can’t start until 3 (poor little Boo).

Sophie gymnastics

We let Sophie set the pace and decide which activities we would do, although Daddy and I helped supplement when she ran out of ideas. We did splits, stretches, tumbles, cartwheels, and hand stands. By far the most popular activity though was running laps through the kitchen and family room. Even the dogs decided to get into the chase. Lizzie was so excited to get to participate and her enthusiasm was contagious. Lizzie and mine’s relationship has been strained since I went back to work. If Daddy is around she generally wants nothing to do with me; she’ll even melt down sometimes if I try to pick her up or take her from Cody. So the best part of tonight for me was definitely when she came running to me smiling with her arms held up so I could help her do a hand stand. Sigh….my heart just melted all over again. Sophie was really proud to be the leader and show off all her tumbling skills.


In the end what started as an inconvenience and an annoyance (yep I’m talking about spending time with my kids) wound up being exactly what the doctor ordered. By time we were done we were all laughing, in high spirits, and honestly a little winded (hopefully I burned off that doughnut from lunch). I honestly feel like what could’ve been a really rough night, was tuned around by simply being silly together.

Your turn: Do your children share their hobbies with the whole family? Have you ever had one of your children teach the family a new activity? How did it turn out?

31 Days to a Closer Family


31 days to a closer family

One stressed out family….

This is the beginning of a series that is going to be a little bit different from what I usually post about. It’s different because it actually has nothing whatsoever to do with my house, although to fair it is technically a DIY project. See this is more of a family project, as in it’s the family that needs a makeover. Those of you who have been following the blog for the last couple of months know how much we’ve taken on recently, but what I haven’t talked much about is how much it has cost us. It has cost quality family time, almost all of it.  Since June we have rented out our old house, moved in with my mom, bought a new house, renovated the new house, and after a year of staying home full time I went back to work part-time, so the kids started pre-school. It was a lot for Cody and I to handle. In fact we spent most of the summer stressed, and I had frequent bouts of panic attacks in the middle of the night. We’ve even asked ourselves if getting into our dream home was worth all the stress it has caused. Our kids were troopers though all the upheaval. In fact they were so good that we sort of forgot that this all might be stressful on them too. That was until we finally got settled into the new house and Sophie told me “quit your job and stay home with us again” and Lizzie started screaming if I went anywhere near her, and they both cried when we dropped them off at pre-school. It was enough to make me consider quitting even though I really like my new job. Cody and I had a serious talk and decided that something had to change: we needed to spend more time as a family.

The 31 day challenge….

Not long after we had that conversation I came across the 31 Days of Change on The Nesting Place. The challenge is for bloggers to write one post a day in October on the same topic. My first thought was “I love a challenge”, my second was “I don’t have time for this”. Honestly, the last thing I need right now is more work, but I choose to take on the challenge for two reasons:

  1. I really, really can’t resist a challenge.
  2. I need the accountability.

Many bloggers choose to write about DIY projects and that’s an obvious natural fit for me, except for that pesky promise of making more time for my family, so I decided that my project would be my family. My goal is to become a closer family in 31 days by spending at least 30 minutes of quality time together each day. You may notice that that is the second time I have put “quality” in italics. That’s because I really want to focus on being present with the kids. In other words sitting next to them on the coach while they watch TV and I flip through a magazine doesn’t count, nor does bringing them on play dates. The challenge does not just apply to us actually spending time with our kids, but also in writing about it. I’m fully prepared to report back about the plans that fell through, the temper tantrums, and the nights that mommy would rather eat raw cookie dough in a dark closet than spend another minute answering questions from an inquisitive 4 year old, but I’m also hoping to find a sense of peace in quiet hours spent together after a long day.

football game
Spending some quality time together at a recent high school football game

Your role…..

So, what exactly is your role in all of this? Mostly it’s to hold me accountable to the challenge, but also I welcome advice, ideas, and all types of moral support. After all we’re in this together for 31 days. I’d love it even more if you’d play along. I know we’re not the only family out there looking to reconnect. This introductory is pretty long, but I promise you that most of the posts will be short and sweet. And for those of you who prefer the renovation updates; don’t worry I’ll still be pumping those out as well, as long as they don’t interrupt quality time with the family.

Day 1: Scheduling Family Time

Day 2: Child Led Instruction

Day 3: Feeding the Obsession

Day 4: Date your Spouse

Day 5: Family Bike Ride

Day 6: Field Day

Day 7: Story Time

Day 8: Camping under the roof

Day 9: Dance Party

Day 10: Spa Party

Day 11: Creating mini Hipsters

Day 12: Family Breakfast

Day 13: Arts and Crafts

Day 14: Give it a Break

Day 15: Walk-A-Long

Day 16: Get in Character

Day 17: Ice cream Sundaes

Day 18: Dining Out

Day 19: Get your color on

Day 20: Let them eat cake

Day 21: Cuddle Time

Day 22: When Life gives you Lemons…..

Day 23: Cookie Monsters

Day 24: The Family that Paints together……

Day 25: Party Time

Day 26: Create a Tradition

Day 27: Going-A-Visiting

Day 28: Pumpkin Carving

Day 29: Hanging Out

Day 30: Halloween Family Style

Day 31: A little perspective