In a quest for positivity headed into this week, I want to focus on, well, what we can all agree upon (in my family at least). It shouldn’t be remarkable to have things in common as a family, but when every single person wants to do the exact same thing at the same time, over and over, with no arguing, no negotiating, no complaining (!!) it is worth celebrating (and shouting/writing about). I’m not talking about milkshakes or bike riding (but sure, those too). I am talking more so some unexpected things…
A fun fact is that Brian and I don’t actually like to do the same things. We have the same lifestyle (and are strangely always on the same page, mood-wise) but different interests. For instance when we go on vacation (remember those?) I like to shop and he likes to golf, but we found early on in our relationship that we both love to bike so that’s what we do mostly on vacation – we rent bikes and explore. We even watch different movies and TV shows (for the most part) every night. Charlie and Birdie are very different, too. She likes art, unicorns and helping me cook and he likes science, building and turning anything into a weapon or setting traps. They BOTH love legos and marble racers and can play those for hours.
So for us four to want to do the same thing, watch the same thing, and play the same thing is something we relish and celebrate. Here goes…
GAMES & ACTIVITIES
We LOVE reading these books to our kids and our kids LOVE them just as much. They are funny and whimsical, unexpected and rhyme, almost like a musical. Our favorites are (but we love them all) Room On A Broom, Highway Rat, Tabby McTat, Stick Man, The Snail On The Whale, The Spiffiest Giant In Town, Tiddler, The Gruffalo… I mean ALL of them are great. We’ve been reading these to our kids for 5 years (discovered in Australia) and even Charlie, almost 7, still loves them (and is starting to read then to US). I heard this day would come and my heart sings with joy when he’s reading to us all in bed together.
I LOVE reading these books. They are smart, funny, illustrated so well, and have great messages for kids. They also rhyme, making it just way more fun to read. A new one came out called Sofia Valdez Future Prez that is GREAT, too. They are great for ages 1 – 8 (maybe even older–I don’t know). Our kids love these books too because they are entertaining (and long) and they are very empowering and inspiring to them.
These are THANKS TO YOU. I did this board game post early on and you guys suggested these in the comments for our kid’s ages. The Secret Door and Outfoxed have been a HUGE hit with all of us. I didn’t know about ‘collaborative games’ before (where you work together as a team) and these two are SO much fun and feel like a positive fun night (unlike them screaming over money via Monopoly). If you guys have more collaborative game suggestions please let me know. We also love Guess Who?, Sleeping Queens, and Uno, but it’s just way more fun to be on a team with them.
Oh, you’ve seen us doing them on the blog and on social (the photo above was for a photoshoot obviously). We are scavenger hunt people. They started in LA in the backyard and inside, with clues that rhyme and a lot of squealing. Then up here since our house backs up to acres of mountain they became pretty epic, with the kids sprinting with maps. I will say they take a decent amount of work for 20 minutes (max) of squeals, but we all enjoy it SO MUCH. We used to have one on July 4th, and New Year’s day with all the kids we could collect, this year was different obviously but still do it with our kids and they always do one for me for Mother’s Day around the house.
Cooking Matty Matheson’s Shepherds Pie
We made this early on in quarantine and it was DELICIOUS in every way and so much fun for us to make. We typically don’t eat the same foods because on an average day I eat mostly vegetables (with some meat and no, I don’t really like meat substitutes) and our kids will eat vegetables but not a full plate of them like me. But this meal is one that we all agree on. You wouldn’t think that this is “healthy” but it falls into the healthy category for me because it’s just good old fashion (pasture-raised if you can) meat and veggies, nothing processed. Sure, with a LOT of butter. They beg for this dish and it’s one that Brian and I really like to cook together. The kids have already asked for it for our Christmas meal and we are on board. By the way, I just bought his new cookbook for Brian and it’s a doozy… If you like cooking lamb shoulder and pigs feet it might be for you.
Oh, how lucky are we that our kids are obsessed with this magical piece of performance art. Brian and I saw the original cast on broadway (obstructed view but it didn’t matter) and are true, obsessive fans (oh right, we both love theater). We put the soundtrack on for the kids the last couple of years, walked them through the plot enough so when it dropped on Disney+ they were READY. We’ve now watched it close to 15 times and it’s such an incredible piece of art that you don’t get sick of it – I learn new things or catch a new amazing lyric each time. Charlie and Elliot know almost every single word and we even dressed up as the cast for Halloween yesterday. I wish that every era of history was taught via a Lin Manuel musical because our kids know the American Revolution, about the founding fathers and constitution better than I did before Hamiton. Lin Manuel is Shakespeare.
If you are needing to feel some hope in the world, this documentary about a family leaving LA to build a sustainable farm is so beautiful (and entertaining). Sounds boring, but it’s absolutely not (and I’ve been channeling them to manifest a similar situation). Our kids don’t beg for this movie, but every time we watch it they love it and it gets them very excited for our move to Oregon. The reason I cry every time is that there is a real spiritual aspect to nature and mother earth that they embrace and nurture. You can witness what happens if all of our food was grown like this. It’s absolutely inspiring (not depressing at all).
Current Disney Classics
Moana, Onward, and Frozen 1 and 2. I don’t need to convince you of these I’m sure, but it felt weird finishing this list without listing our favorite animated movies (and for an extensive list of over 50 of our favorite movies, we did a post about it here). I cry watching Moana and Onward almost every single time, and we secretly love Frozen 2 more than Frozen 1. We started watching the ‘Making of Frozen 2‘ series and the kids even love that and it’s opened their eyes to some professions they didn’t know existed.
Nailed it, Magic For Humans, and now Haute Dog (ok fine, Minute To Win It, too). Finding common ground on TV has been harder for sure. We started quarantine with Nailed it and we laugh out loud every episode (it’s a baking show for amateur bakers trying to replicate crazy complicated baked goods but its HILARIOUS). There are 8 seasons (skip the first, IMHO). Magic for Humans is Justin Willem’s incredibly funny and at times sweetly emotional magic TV show. Yes, the magic is incredible but it’s more that he is so relatable and charming and very self-deprecating. Haute Dog is the Nailed It’ for dog grooming (except they are expert groomers). It’s pretty darn funny, as they all have these wild challenges to do grand things to poodles.
So heading into this week, on the eve of this historic election let’s talk about things that we can all agree upon. I’d love to hear what you guys collectively love to get more ideas – any other no-fail family games, activities, or book series that you can recommend? xx
Opening Photo Credits: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Mountain House Reveal: Our Light-Filled Neutral & Textural Living Room