No technology allowed on roadtrips


It may seem harsh, but I don't allow technology (unless for music) during road trips.

It may sound cliche but our adventures and road trips are absolutely about the journey, not the destination. Sometimes, we have never even gotten to our destination in which case I'm glad I have the rules I do - because it helps my kids learn to enjoy the journey and enjoy the moment.

The deer above, I spotted as we bombed down a two lane highway shortcut that we found on our paper map. I thought I was so clever to have been on the lookout for some perfectly camouflage deer, but I was quickly upstaged by my eagle eyed kids in the back!

They spotted 13 deer bedded down in a huge field from the backseat of the car!

So I cheer to my harsh rule about no technology in the car, because if their heads had been down instead of up they never would have known about the deer. It was one of those thrilling moments where they held their breath with excitement and nearly burst when they hopped out of the car. Luckily they were able to contain themselves and were quiet as mice and moved so stealth like that it was making me laugh. We must have spent a good 15 minutes on the side of the road in total awe at the wildlife around us.

As we watched the deer, my older two started hypothesizing as to why the deer would be laying there for so long. Apparently one of the Netflix movies we watched, "The Secret Life of Deer" explained all of this - so my pint size experts filled me in.

No technology in the car, especially on road trips is a rule I'm keeping and that my kids completely appreciated on this day!

True happiness comes at the weirdest times


True happiness comes at the weirdest times. The kids and I were driving home from Leavenworth the other day through Blewett Pass and the semi driver behind me kept getting dangerously close to us.
I was actually starting to feel panicked because all of the areas to pull off the highway were whizzing by us as I was desperately trying to increase the distance between us. The kids, whose eyes are so much better than mine, were all actively looking ahead to spot a reasonable place to duck off the highway when finally my son shouted "there mom! up ahead is a wide road!" After we gained some distance by accelerating up a hill a bit faster than he could I was at last able to safely pull off the highway.

Phew. My nerves were shot. It had been raining so hard as the semi was tailing us, but when I pulled over it had cleared up.

I immediately got out of the car and walked around to calm my nerves. Realizing that my kids could probably use a good stretch too, I motioned for them to go ahead and get out of the car.  I noticed that they too were relieved to be away from the madman in that semi.

The road we turned off of was completely empty, was a mass of loose, round gravel and was very wide. In every direction we turned there were huge open spaces, vast amounts of land, unpopulated and absolutely calm. It was at that moment I looked over at my littlest one, dressed in the most obnoxious bright colors with his hood over his head, pointing at the trees, the clouds, and searching for cows.

I think we all noticed him at the same time because there was a collective laugh, and a giggle that seemed to release all of the previous tension. The air was so crisp that it actually felt cleansing.
In that moment, listening to my big kids laugh and my littlest minion start counting trees I felt truly happy. There was nothing at all extraordinary about this moment, but I hugged my kids and knew that I wanted to remember it forever.

I don't have any real point here, just that I want to remind all of my friends out there to embrace these weird moments so that you too can recognize them for what they are - blessings and true happiness!

The making of a boys keepsake album


Vintage vehicles on a sandy beach is what made this boys keepsake album come to life. 

I searched everywhere for the most colorful and diverse vintage vehicles for this keepsake album. My son actually showed me the way just by his expressions and reactions as we combed through as many antique stores and vintage shops as we could find. 

Each chapter in this keepsake album features a different vehicle. It's always fun to look back at behind the scenes of making each book. I love how Fresh Outtakes came to life in such an organic way. I hope everyone who has bought my albums enjoys them as much as I have!

10 ways my party was better than anything on Pinterest


10 ways my Minion party was better than anything on Pinterest

1. Easy
2. Cheap
3. Fast set-up
4. Cheerful colors (not just yellow and blue)
5. Super simple food prep
6. "In the Summertime" by Mungo Jerry
7.  Kids love and laugh at this part of the movie
8. Super funny photo opportunites
9. Easy clean up!
10. Not yet seen on Pinterest!

It was Thursday and by Saturday I needed to throw my 3 year old's birthday party who is obsessed with Minions. Naturally I did what any good parents does...I turned to Pinterest for inspiration. After about 5 minutes I had Minion fatique, was Pinterest paralyzed and developed a mild case of turrets. 

I had to dumb this down, fast. I thought of a funny clip from the movie - the one where all the minions stupidly run after the ice cream truck only to get sucked into it by a giant cone and plopped down on a tropical island. And there it was: tropical island minion party!

Is there anything funnier than a toddler, wearing a lay and crazily drinking from a coconut? Please. 


So here's what I bought at the party store:
Party hats
1 inflatable palm tree
Hawaiian plastic lays
Minion photo prop kit
2 tissue paper pineapples
Minion eye cupcake toppers
Coconut Cup for birthday boy
Crepe Paper (4' blue, 4' yellow) 
1 roll yellow wrapping paper for table runner
1 package of umbrella toothpicks (paper parasols)
1 package Hawaiian paper plates and napkins

Cupcake mix
Cupcake liners
Juice boxes and water

I rolled the yellow wrapping paper down the center of our table, taping it at each end, then sprinkled the colorful lays and pineapples on top. Each tropical paper plate had one minion cupcake with umbrella and the coconut cup was placed at the birthday boy's seat.

I taped the blue crepe paper from the baseboard up, then taped the yellow above it for sunny sky. I placed the inflatable tree to the side and put the photo props in a bucket. The kids of course knew what to do and made all the photo magic just playing and behaving like minions, minus the fart gun.

After 12 years of throwing birthday parties I'm finally figuring it out.

Is it more fun to be an adult or to be a child?


It was an innocent question:

"Mom, is it more fun to be an adult or to be a child?"

From behind this camera the answer seems obvious, so I show him his picture...and he grins.

Encouraging sibling bonds


Their bedroom door is covered in a sea of photos, each picture chosen by our oldest, printed at home and then carefully glued on.

Encouraging the sibling bonds of 3 completely different children can be daunting to me sometimes which is why this project seemed so important. Everyone who walks down the hallway gets a constant reminder of the LOVE they share and the JOY they've experienced together.  

We have those old dreaded wooden doors from the 80's, you know the hollow - handle is too high kind? I'd love to replace them, but the trouble is that we also have a destructive toddler in the house. Solid core, freshly painted doors sound absolutely dreamy, but truth be told, those doors would turn me into a psycho who is constantly paranoid that every hot wheel I hear racing down the hallway could potentially scratch or nick my newly upgraded, pristine doors.

This siblings-photo-bonding-door was a much better idea. It was an easy project, selecting photos and trimming them together was actually fun because they couldn't help but relive all the fun, retelling the events and what they were feeling on that day. Ironically, every photo was 'the best day ever'. 

I get a lot of funny reactions to this door and a lot of questions because people think it was hard to create, but it wasn't!

Here are 5 things to help it look well balanced:

1. Print many different sizes of photos

2. Keep a slight white trim around each image to define its space (we forgot to on some)

3. Glue up the biggest photos first and use the smaller ones to fill in gaps (use matte mod podge)

4. Stand back every now and then to take a helps to decide which should be glued on next

5. Only put the glue on the back until it's complete, then seal with one solid coat over entire door

This sibling photo door is pure JOY for all of us!

by mlekoshi