Showing posts with label Family Journal. Show all posts

DIY Lycra Compression Bed Sheets for Deep Pressure Input

A few years ago someone commented asking if I could do a blog post sharing our bedtime routine. I kind of laughed it off because that is a pretty non-existent thing in our home. What works for a week or month often doesn't work the next, and it's a constant changing battle in our home.

compression bed sheets

Kinsley has always been a pretty awful sleeper. Part of that is because she has middle interhemispheric variant holoprosencephaly, which is the long way of saying she has a few brain malformations. She is certainly a lot more high functioning than we ever thought she would be, but she does have several long term issues, one of them being sleep related. Because Kinsley has a lot of spasticity in her lower extremities, she often kicks or flails her legs when she is trying to get to sleep, which means she wakes herself up when she is just starting to fall asleep, or will easily wake herself from a deep sleep in the middle of the night. 

In 2016 we started using a weighted sensory blanket to help solve the problem. The sensory blanket worked really well for a long time, but then Kinsley got too tall for it and Derek and I were having to run into her room several times a night to get it back onto her. For her birthday in 2017 my friend's mom made her a new blanket, but that meant that we had a period of a couple months between the first blanket not working and the new one arriving at our house that we had to figure out a solution for. 

Why We Made A Lycra Compression Bed Sheet: 

I have a few friends with children on the Autism/Sensory Processing Disorder spectrum, and a lot of them had told me about the benefits of deep pressure input. We obviously had success with it in the past which is why we used weighted blankets, but many of my friends were having success getting their children to sleep with compression bed sheets to provide that same grounding sensory input, and I thought it was worth a try. 

What Is a Compression Bed Sheet? 

A compression bed sheet is essentially a bed sheet that fits over your mattress like a sleeping bag would. They're usually pretty tight and hold your child in place so that they can't move around as much in the middle of the night. They give your child a nice deep pressure feeling like being hugged, while still allowing your child to safely get in and out of the bed and be safe while they sleep. 

Initially when I had heard about these sheets several years ago I was hesitant to try it with Kinsley because she was so immobile at the time and I worried about her getting trapped. When we were in between weighted blankets though, that one year made such a big difference with her mobility that we decided to make her a compression sheet as an intermittent fix until her new blanket arrived. 

Why Make A Compression Bed Sheet Instead of Buying? 

I am not the most crafty person on the planet, but if I can make a sensory bed sheet, I promise you can too. I didn't want to spend a lot of money on this, just to find out that it might not work. When I was looking online, store bought compression bed sheets were between $30-$40, which was more than I wanted to spend on something that might not work. 

I went to Hobby Lobby and found some stretchy jersey knit fabric for $5, borrowed a friend's sewing machine, and made my own for less than $10 after I bought thread for the project as well. The savings were well worth making the compression bed sheet on my own and it took maybe 15 minutes to sew the entire thing together. 

If you have a child, or know of someone who could benefit from this, here is a super easy (really, so easy) tutorial on how to make a compression bed sheet for your child. 


Fabric (enough to fit the bed)
Sewing Machine


Measure the top of your mattress. You'll need just the length and the width. You'll then want to multiply that by two (a piece for the top, and a piece for the bottom). By not measuring the thickness of the mattress, you're ensuring the fabric will be tight enough when stretched over the mattress. 

Head to the fabric store and get your fabric. Lycra is ideal, but Hobby Lobby didn't have any when I went, and so I just went with a thick stretchy blend that they had that felt durable. I did mine on a crib size mattress and 1 1/2 yards was the perfect amount. 

I then laid the fabric out on my table and folded it in half (right sides together). I pinned the long open seam shut, and then pinned the bottom edge shut as well. 

Using a zig-zag stich, I sewed together the two pinned sides, and then I turned the sheet right side out. 

At this point it just looks like a big stretchy sleeping bag. Congratulations, you've succeeded.

Then I simply headed up stairs, placed the new sheet on top of the mattress, and put it back in the bed. 

Have your child try it out to make sure it's not too tight and is comfortable, and then get yourself a full night sleep!

If you liked this post, DIY Lycra Compression Bed Sheets for Deep Pressure Input, you might also like:

Be sure to follow along on Instagram @thehappyflammmily to stay up-to-date on all the latest posts and projects. 

How We Handle Chores and Money

When Kyle was about 2-3 years old I made an online chore chart, bought some stickers from the dollar store, and even wrote an entire blog post about my amazing parenting skills (eye roll), and how I planned on doing chores with Kyle. The thing is though, when you're implementing anything into your home, it has to be sustainable. Maybe chore charts work well long term in your home, but for us, Derek and I don't have the energy to keep up with rotating zone charts, stickers, or anything super regimented.

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What We Do Instead of Charts:

I really don't have a name for this other than "expectations". I think the kids know really well what the expectations are in our home and how we do things. The fact that Kyle has been around for eight years means that he knows the rhythm of our home really well and just knows what he needs to be doing at any given point in the day. 

If Kyle just ate breakfast, he knows to put his dishes in the sink, put the food away that he got out, and clean up any mess left in his space. Same with snacks and other meals. Before bedtime every night he knows he needs to clean his room. He knows at some point during the day I'm going to ask him to take out the recycling. And that while Derek is getting Kinsley in bed, I'm going to have him help me clean the main floor of the house and get things tidied before I read him a story.

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Progressing Chores with Age:

As Kyle has gotten older we've obviously given him more responsibilities. When he was 18 months until he was about 4 he mostly just helped clean up toys before bed. When he was 5 we started having him clean his own room and make his bed. Sometime last year we put him in charge of taking out all the recycling. When we've lived in a home with a backyard, we've had him be the one to pick up all the dog poop. This year we had him start taking control of putting his own laundry away. 

As Kyle gets older we'll just keep adding more tasks such as doing his own laundry, mowing the lawn, doing dishes, etc...  

I think that your home can have a natural flow and energy where everyone knows their roles, and just by living in that home, your child will learn your personal family culture and fall in line with whatever method you decide to implement in your home. 

How to Handle Chores with A Physically Disabled Child?

Honestly if you have a child with a physical disability I'm sure you know the challenge that comes with trying to make their "expectations" in the home fair, especially when compared to what the other sibling(s) are doing. 

Right now with Kinsley we're focusing on just a lot of her own self-care tasks. Can she brush her own teeth? Can she get herself dressed? Can she brush her own hair? Those things are hard for her and I think those basic things count as chores in their own right. (She still needs assistance to do these things, but we're working on that independence). 

Other things we have her do is wipe her own face and hands, and spot at the table after each meal. If she has a pile of laundry ready to be put away she will crawl back and forth from my room to her room with each piece of clothing and put them in the right drawers. Are they put away neatly? No, but she did it herself and that's what counts more than anything. (Also typing this made me question why we don't just put the basket of her clothes next to her dresser to make it a little easier on here. Proof I'm not a perfect human, and have never claimed to be one).

Other things we have Kinsley do is put all her toys back in the right bins when she's done playing. She has a box full of occupational therapy toys that she uses daily, and she knows to clean them all up and put them away when we're done. 

This is obviously going to be so specific to whatever your child's current abilities are, but I think anything you can do to help any child contribute to the housework and chores and be a part of the family culture is so important for them to not only learn how to do those things and become independent, but also to feel like they're a part of the family.  

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Do we Compensate Our Kids for Chores?

Honestly we don't. It's something that we've tried to keep up with in the past, and again, call us lazy but we just don't have the energy to keep up with it. It is something that I really want to get better at though because I think there are so many important money management skills that can be taught with this. 

I will say though that I only remember a small handful of years that my brother and I actually got a weekly allowance and then I remember that getting phased out pretty hard when we were around middle school. (My parents are divorced, so when that happened we pretty much just went to our dad's house on the weekend and he just gave us money for whatever, not saying that was ideal but it was the situation). I also worked from 9th grade all the way through high school so by then I pretty much had my own money anyways. 

All that to say I don't think "allowance" money is the only way that you can teach your children about money because it wasn't a huge focal point in our home and I think my siblings and I left home with enough money sense to avoid debt, don't spend what you don't have, and save what you can for a rainy day. (My brother did that last part a lot better than me).

How Our Kids Get Money:

As far as money that the kids do get, we have grandparents that send them money in the mail a few times a year, and whenever we find change in the car or around the house, we tend to dish that out to the kids. In fact, during quarantine Kyle said he wanted to spend the money he had, and when we added it up he had about $76 in coins. So for a kid who doesn't get a weekly allowance, our system of handing out loose change as a reward for being a functioning member of the family had worked out pretty well. 

From there we were able to talk about how much money he had, what he wanted to spend it on (he bought two toys, one for him and one for Kinsley and had $20 left), and we went to the store where he took his own money, counted it out, and paid for it on his own. 

All of this to say is that we have pretty loose systems in our house when it comes to chores and money, but I think it also proves that you don't need to have super regimented systems in place to teach your children the skills you want them to learn. Every family works differently and as long as you have something in your home that is working for your family, that is all that really matters!

I would love to hear in the comments below what chores, allowance, and expectations all look like in your home! 

As a side note, after writing this post, I found this article from Positive Parenting Solutions about Why Chores and Allowance Shouldn't Be Tied Together, and all I can say is YES. Ten fist bumps. 

If you liked this post, How We Handle Chores and Money, you might also like:

Be sure to follow along on Instagram @thehappyflammily to stay up-to-date on all the latest posts and projects!

Birthday Gifts for 8-Year-Old Boy

Kyle turns eight at the end of the week and I honestly can't believe that he's really going to be that old. Eight just sounds old to me. I've been really wanting to get Kyle some more intentional gifts this year instead of toys because I feel like we get him something really cool and fancy and then a week later he is over it, and is back to playing with Legos and Hot Wheels or other things that he's liked for the last five years. This year instead we focused on more practical things for him. Items we know will get used, are still fun, and will actually get played with. 

If you're in the market for some birthday gifts for an 8-year-old boy, I've got you covered with some great and practical ideas that any child will love. 

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Birthday Gifts for 8-Year-Old Boy:

Kyle lost his soccer ball sometime in the last year. With soccer starting up again one of his Grandma's bought him a soccer ball and a pump (which we've never had), so that he'll be all set to start soccer in a couple weeks. He's missed being able to play soccer in our backyard and so he's going to love this so much. 

My mom bought him these pop-up soccer goals for him to use in our backyard and I'm honestly super excited about them. I also love playing soccer, so now that we can play one-on-one in the backyard with real goals instead of cardboard boxes seems super fancy to me! Kinsley will get plenty of enjoyment trying to kick the ball into them as well. 

He's been asking for a telescope for the last year and we've always forgotten about it anytime a gift giving moment comes. We'd gotten a $100 Best Buy gift card when we purchased our washer and dryer last month, and used part of that to get him this telescope! It came with a four star review, and a microscope kit too, so I think he's going to love it, and it will come in handy now that we're homeschooling this year too. 

Kyle has been using this Olaf bike helmet for four years now. In as much as it still fits him, he's outgrown it from a maturity standpoint. We purchased him this matte black bike helmet and I think he's going to love cruising up and down the street in his Storm Trooper bike a lot more now that he won't have an enormous carrot sticking out of his head. 

An Experience Gift:
My dad has always been the type of person to just mail checks for birthday's and this year he felt bad and asked if we'd rather do something else, I told him to keep doing what he's doing! This year we're using the check to have a really fun beach day up at Pineview Reservoir. We used the money he sent to buy some cheap beach toys and a pop-up shade tent for the beach, so what he really ended up giving Kyle was the main fun activity that he'll get to do on his special day, and we're so grateful for it! 

If you liked this post, Birthday Gifts for 8-Year-Old Boy, you might also like:

Be sure to follow along on Instagram @thehappyflammily to stay up-to-date on all the latest posts and projects!

Summer 2020 Bucket List

The next few months are going to be kind of a wild ride for us. We move into our new house in 12 more days, we need to get the kids registered for their new schools, I'm going to be teaching PE starting in August... there are so many things to prep for! While this summer is going to be a bit crazy in it's own right, I don't want to lose sight of the fact that it's summer, and I want to make it as intentional as I can for my kids, and plan some fun things that I'm excited to do as well!

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Camping in Bear Lake: We go to Bear Lake once every summer. Last year we stayed in a condo, the year before that we just did a day trip, this year I would love to camp there and rent a boat to take the kids out on the lake! 

Take a trip without the kids: Aside from going on Pioneer Trek last year where we swapped our two kids for a large group of teenagers, Derek and I have never been away from our kids overnight. This year we're heading down to Zion National Park for an anniversary getaway and I could not be more excited! 

Move into our new house: We close on and move into our house in 12 more days. I really couldn't be more excited about it! Cleaning, packing, organizing, unpacking, it's a thrill. But I'm also looking forward to the fact that we're never never never never never moving again. I know no one believes me when I say that, but I really really really really really really mean it this time. 

Remodel our home office: We slowly want to change some finishes in our house over time, and I think the home office is a small enough space to give us good DIY confidence, without also needing a ton of work. We mostly want to paint, and change the doors and ceiling fan. This is finally going to be the house where I get the black wall I've been dreaming of the last three years. 

Daily focused activity with kids: I want to make sure I'm being hands on with the kids each day whether that's setting up something for them to do in the yard, a craft inside, or some at home PT with Kinsley,  I want to make sure that I'm spending some sort of intentional time with the kids each and every day. 

Invite friends over at least twice a month: Part of the large appeal of this home was the ability to host a lot of people. Yes we could host in the last house we had, and we did, but after being in a townhouse for a year where we haven't had friends over, and then living through a pandemic when we couldn't get together with people, it's making me feel really intentional about gathering our friends and having their kids over when possible. 

What do you have on the menu for your summer bucket list? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

Be sure to follow along on instagram @thehappyflammily to stay up to date on all my latest posts!

How To Plan A Family Reunion

At the beginning of the week we all piled into the car and headed up to Idaho. This was the first year that Derek's immediate family hosted a family reunion, and I'm pretty sure it's something that we're going to repeat each summer. It was honestly so much fun and it was such a great way to be able to get the entire family together, have fun, and not spend 10,000 years cleaning up Derek's parents house afterwards. I've had a lot of people ask for details about the reunion, so I'll share as much as I know in case anyone else is wondering how to plan a family reunion.

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I do want to start off by saying Derek's sister planned this first reunion and did an amazing job. I think the plan is for it to rotate among Derek's family who plans it in subsequent years and Keriana honestly did such a fabulous job this year that it really made an awesome blue print for us moving forward. 

How to Plan a Family Reunion:

Where to host a family reunion?

We did ours in Driggs, ID. This was a one hour drive from Derek's parents house, and a 4-5 hour drive for us from Utah. Most of Derek's siblings all live in the same town as his parents, or the next town over. Most people had a short dive except for Derek and I, and his sister who lives in Pocatello.

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If you're planning a reunion, picking a place that is within a good driving distance for most families is ideal. I think we originally picked Driggs because it was a short driving distance to Yellowstone National Park, which I think originally we were going to go to, but with covid-19 I think the entrance was closed so we wound up doing other activities instead, but it wound up being just as fun.

Try picking a location that has a huge focal point such as a lake, a national park, or some sort of key highlight, and then it will make it easier to plan activities around that. Then look for places that are big enough to host all of you. I think we found our place on Air BNB, so look on home rental sites like that to see what you can find. We wound up having enough space for each family to use two bedrooms. 

Who to invite to a family reunion?

Honestly, you can make it as big or small as you would like. Derek has a large family (his parents have 9 kids, and there are 20 grandchildren so far), all together there was 36 people. It might have been a little unreasonable to plan an event for anyone outside of the children, spouse, grandchildren circle, but if you have a smaller family you could totally include extended family to make it more inclusive. 

How to plan meals for a family reunion?

Each of the married spouses and Derek's parents took turns rotating through the meals. Derek's sister and her husband were in charge of dinner the first night, and then his other sister and her husband cooked breakfast the next morning, Jacob and Krista were in charge of lunch on Monday, and Maurcine and Dakota were in charge of Monday dinner. Derek's mom and dad were in charge of breakfast on Tuesday, and Derek and I were in charge of Tuesday lunch. This made it really easy for delegating responsibility and knowing what to bring. We all brought additional snacks and pretty much shared those in between meals for kids when they were hungry.

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How to divide expenses for a family reunion?

This was a question someone sent me on Instagram and I'm not really sure the exact answer. Everyone who was in charge of cooking a meal purchased all the food and supplies for that meal. I believe all the married couples and Derek's parents spilt the cost of where we stayed six ways (there might have been others who did contribute but I'm just guessing). Most of the activities that we did didn't cost anything (aside from some prizes and candy and things like that, and I assume Derek's sister paid for those so thank you Keriana if you're reading this!). One night the entire family went horseback riding for two hours and I'm sure there was a fee for that, I'm assuming paid for by Derek's parents. 

What activities to do at a family reunion?

I'll share the full schedule we used for the reunion at the bottom of this post but here is an extensive list of all the activities we did at the reunion:

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  1. Face Game: Derek's sister asked for everyone to send an individual picture of everyone in the family, she then took two different people and morphed their faces together, and everyone had to guess which to people in the family were morphed into one photo. Everyone had a piece of paper numbered 1-36 and whoever got the most guesses right at the end of the game won a prize. I don't know what app Keriana used to make the photos, but there seems to be a lot of options when you google it. 
  2. Minute to Win it Games: The first night we were there we played a bunch of minute to win it games with all of the nieces and nephews and they had a ton of fun. You can find a ton of options for games to play on pinterest! 
  3. Family 5k and Running Events: We held a family 5k that went from where we were staying and ended at a local high school track. The family members that weren't running met us there in their cars, and manned the streets directing the runners where to go. Once everyone was done running the 5k we did 100m and 400m races for all the kids and adults to participate in. 
  4. Outdoor games: After the races we did some games on the football field like a family relay race, a freeze dance competition where one kid would pick which dance to do (most of ours turned into dancing like some animal) then the music would stop and we'd pick a new dance and did this 5-6 times before going onto the next activity. We also tapped a bunch of candy to a plain t-shirt and put it on the oldest nephew and had him run around the field with all the other nieces and nephews chasing him and trying to rip the candy off. 
  5. Horse Back Riding: We paid to ride horses for two hours and each kid had about 10-12 minutes on the horse before getting down and letting the next person have a turn. If there aren't horses where you're staying maybe you could rent some ATVs, go boating, some sort of big adventure that everyone can participate in. 
  6. Hike/Picnic: We were originally going to go on a hike around a lake near where we were staying on the last day, but it rained and we all ended up going home early. But hiking is a super easy go-to activity. 
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What to do during down time in a family reunion?

We had lots of downtime at night after dinner, and during the afternoon between lunch and dinner on the second day. Where we stayed had a big yard, a hot tub, TV for movies, and we brought lots of board games. During the downtime everyone kind of did their own thing and it was really nice. Most of the kids all played really well together, I got a nap at one point, and a lot of the adults played board games, cards, or just simply talked. It was really chill and didn't feel like it needed to be planned or overly scheduled.

How to keep everyone on schedule at a family reunion?

Derek's sister wrote an itinerary and had it hanging up on a lot of the walls where we were staying, and sent it to everyone a week or so before we got there. Everyone knew what to expect and what time all the meals were happening, and when we had to be in certain places for horse riding and major activities like that. Did we stick to the schedule perfectly down to the second? No, but we stuck to it pretty well and it was just really nice for everyone to be on the same page about when certain things were happening so we had general idea for what to expect.

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Family Reunion Awards:

Derek's sister made medals for all of the nieces and nephews out of canning lids and ribbon that said "Flamm Reunion 2020" on them and were super cute. She also bought 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place medals for each of the running events that were held, and ribbons for other things like best chef, the freeze dance competition, and other fun little games. She also gave gift cards along with some of the awards as well which was super fun. Derek's family is really into Boggle and they even bought a trophy that will travel to all future reunions and get engraved with the Boggle campion's name on it for that year.

This is pretty much all the information I have on how to organize and plan a family reunion. If you have any tips or suggestions that have worked well for you, I'd love to know about it in the comments below!

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Be sure to follow along on instagram @thehappyflammily to stay up to date on all my latest posts!

We Bought A House (Again) + Answering Your Questions

In a wild turn of events Derek and I are under contract on a home that we will move into in about six weeks. We honestly had zero intentions of buying another home for a couple more years, and were content to keep renting like I mentioned in our financial goals blog post I wrote a few weeks ago. The reality is that things just fell into place in the most unexpected ways, and that is the story I'm going to tell today.

For a lot different reasons, we were originally planing on trying to rent a single level, single family home when our lease ended here at the end of July. We're currently in a three story townhouse and it's getting difficult to carry Kinsley up and down all the stairs, plus she might be having surgery in the next year, and carrying her up those stairs while going through recovery seems miserable. Also, we'd really love to have a backyard for our dog to poop freely and not have to take him out on the leash several times a day. 

We also really wanted to stay down here in southern Davis County so Kyle could continue going to his private school, and Kinsley could go to her same school without much disruption. A few weeks into quarantine we found out Kinsley's teacher who she was supposed to have for three years wasn't coming back next school year, which made us less dedicated to keeping her in her school because a new teacher is a new teacher. However, we were still wanting to keep Kyle in his school and since I had to drive him every day we were still thinking of staying close so that the drive would be manageable. 

We had been looking at rental options for weeks and weeks and nothing came up that met our one level home with pet criteria. There was one house, but it was going to be demolished in February, so it wasn't a good long term option at all. Even still when I look on Zillow in our current area there isn't anything there. 

Then Derek and I started playing with the idea of "Well what if we bought a house?" and "What if Kyle switched schools one last time and then really never again?" We also didn't have much in terms of a downpayment saved up (we only had 1% saved because we'd been purging basically all our income into student loan payoff for the last year), and didn't really know how that was going to pan out. We had actually looked at using a down payment assistance program in January to possibly buy a home, but the interest rate on the loan would have been almost 6%, which was why we decided to hold off on buying. 

Then I saw a Facebook ad for downpayment assistance programs in Utah and we got connected with a lender who was offering a program to give us 3.5% for a downpayment and a 3.7% interest rate, and the downpayment money didn't have to be paid back as long as we lived in the house for three years. (If we leave the house before 3 years we have to pay back the downpayment money at 8% interest). (For anyone local, I don't know the name of this program, but I can get you in contact with our lender if you're interested.)

So with a loan that was a lot better of a deal than we'd ever had previously, we started cautiously browsing Zillow. Another hurdle was that the Utah market is so crazy that houses go really fast and unless you put an offer on something the second it's listed you likely won't get it. This was an entire other fiasco we didn't want to get into. 

We started looking all over the county at various places we could live, but I kept getting this nagging feeling about Kyle going to a new school and really didn't want to send him somewhere completely new that we knew nothing about. Derek and I agreed at that point that we would either stay down here so he could go to his current school, or move back to Layton so he could go back to the school he went to for Kinder and first grade. We knew we loved that school, and that Kyle had a ton of friends there, so going back would be a really positive thing.

On May 2nd I went to tour a new construction neighborhood down here where we're currently living, but wound up getting locked out of the model home, so then I decided to drive up to Layton and see what some new construction options would be like up there. There weren't any new builds that would be ready before school started in the fall, but after looking on Zillow I noticed one of my friends was selling their house. It had been on the market for 40 days and I thought for sure she'd had an offer at that point. I texted her and she said she'd had no offers and that I could come and look. 

I went over to her house, looked around, and instantly knew we wanted the house. I texted her back and asked if we could have it, but that we couldn't close until July 1st because of our current lease. She said she wasn't in a hurry and that closing then wouldn't be a problem. Within a couple days we'd given her the earnest money, and were officially under contract. 

We had our inspection last week and there was nothing majorly wrong with the home, just the tiny little things that tend to always pop up so that the inspector can write something on the report. It was literally things like painting window wells, move these plants, adjust this gutter, etc... 

It's honestly just insane to me how all the things lined up the way they did. Even since going under contract things have worked out that I've gotten paid for past blog posts that we'd forgotten about, and Derek's pay checks will shake out that we'll have the perfect amount of money for our closing costs without being dirt poor and eating cat food for three months afterwards. 

Pro tip: even if you're doing a downpayment assistance program, you still need money for closing costs, which can be between 2-5% of the price of the house. Derek and I had already had savings for first and last month's rent, and a deposit for a new rental which is what really helped get the ball rolling for the upfront costs... again timing is everything. Just beware that even if you have enough money for 3.5% down on a home, you almost need to double it to cover closing costs. Some sellers will pay the buyer's closing costs, but in Utah the market is so competitive that most do not. 

I asked on Instagram what questions you had about our house, so I'll quickly answer some of them now:

How old is the home? It was built in 2003.

How big is your lot? It's just under a quarter of an acre.

Are you going to be doing major renovations? It is move-in ready which is amazing. We do have dreams of painting home's exterior, inside walls, cabinets, etc... maybe adding some built-ins, but mostly just a lot of painting projects for right now. The carpet I'm assuming is original to the house and is probably ready to be replaced in a couple rooms, which we'll do slowly over time.

How far is the new house from your current house? The home is 20 minutes north from where we live right now.

Can you have roosters on your property? Sorry Karen, we do not want your rooster haha!

What made you pull the trigger? Honestly, if it wasn't for the loan program we got with the amazing interest rate, along with our friends selling their house and it being a super seamless and EASY transaction, we probably would not have bought right now. Buying a house in Utah is not fun, and the idea of throwing in offers on houses that already have seven offers is so daunting. If the process wasn't as easy as it was for us, I doubt we would have done it.

Why are we going back to the area we just moved from? When we decided to look into buying we decided we would either say in the North Salt Lake/Woods Cross/Bountiful area so Kyle could keep going to his current school, and the only exception was going back to Layton for him to be at the school he went to for Kinder and First. All the pieces just aligned well for us to go back to Layton and be in a home we love and can see ourselves in long term.

Be sure to stay up-to-date on all of the latest things in our lives by following along in instagram @thehappyflammily!

16 Inside Activities for Kids

If you're spending lots of time inside this winter, or need something to do that isn't far from home, these 16 inside activities for kids will hopefully bust the boredom!

Raise your hand if you foolishly thought this quarantine was just going to be a fun couple of weeks at home. We are on week nine at home in our house (kids got the flu before lock down and never got better before this all happened), and to be honest it's starting to weigh me down a bit. 

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The last couple of weeks have been hard, and since getting an iPad to for online learning, it's all Kinsley asks for about 99% of the day. If you haven't had a five year old ask you if she can play the iPad for eight hours straight, are you even living life? 

16 Inside Activities for Kids:

If you need an arsenal of go-to, quick and easy mostly screen free activities (some require a screen, but the screen isn't the major point of the activity), here are 16 of our favorite go-to activities for this time at home. 

Color By Number Books: 

Kyle is obsessed with color-by-number coloring sheets. We bought him several different color-by-number coloring books on Amazon over the last year and he's been obsessed with all of them. In that same realm, I've also thought that the Sticker By Number books are really cool too. Here's a quick list of the ones we've bought, and ones we're interested in. 


I know every parent says this, but if you have a kid who loves to read, totally monopolize on that. Even Kinsley who can't actually read loves to look at books on the couch, and be read to for long periods of time. You can see all my book lists and recommendations here.

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Make Oobleck

Oobleck is a super fun and easy activity to put together for your kids. Make sure you're in a good mood when you start because it's similar to slime and will make a mess. You kids will love it though! For instructions on how to make Oobleck, click here!

Make Slime

In the same vein as the last suggestion, play with slime! I have never really made slime at home, but we usually just get it from the dollar spot at Target. It comes in small containers, and doesn't actually make a huge mess. The kids love sticking their action figures and other toys into it, and then dig them out. They could literally do this for hours straight. 

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Homemade Play-Dough Recipe

If you haven't made homemade play-dough, you're honestly missing out. I find it to be so much softer and more enjoyable to play with than the real stuff, and it could totally double as a homeschool science lesson for the day. This is our go-to recipe for homemade play-dough.


Kyle recently discovered Audiobooks and it has been so fun for him. He's listened to most of the Boxcar Children series during quarantine, and asks to listen on the iPad every night before bed. This is one of those activities where you need a device, but the device is facilitating something better. We use an app called Epic, which is free for 30 days and then goes to $6.99 a month. They have a huge selection of unlimited books to read, and listen to, and we've loved it for both Kyle and Kinsley. We even went to cancel our membership before we had to pay after the trial, and they gave us another month for only $2.99. You can try Epic free for 30 days here.

Learn to Draw Books

This is another one we haven't done yet, but probably should since we're majorly failing on keeping up with Kyle's art class. I loved these books as a kid because it was always so fun to draw my favorite characters. You can see a huge variety of learning to draw books here. 

Cooking with Kids 

I've really wanted to take this time to teach Kyle how to cook in the kitchen. We bought him a kid's cookbook, Kids Bake: 100+ Sweet and Savory Recipes. I'm super excited for it to get here and start working through some recipes with him and get him more comfortable with cooking. You could also try a Raddish Kids subscription.

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Free Printable Coloring Pages 

My kids love when I print them out random coloring pages that I find on google, or the ones that I've made and shared here on the blog. If you need something in a hurry without spending money, these are always my go-to for a quick and easy activity. Be sure to come back on May 1st when I launch six new free coloring pages! 

Write Letters to Family 

This is something we really need to do this week! My friends over at LDZStudios made these super cute printable envelopes that I really want to print out and send letters in! 

Kids Yoga

If you didn't know we switched Kyle from a public school to a private school this year. We learned since switching that apparently his old school did Cosmic Kids Yoga everyday in his French class... who knew? Anyways, he's apparently a yoga aficionado so we made a rule that he couldn't play on screens unless he does yoga first... which involves a screen but this is an activity with a greater good than just vegging.  There are a ton of different themed videos like Harry Potter Yoga, Dinosaur Yoga, Minecraft, etc... Kyle apparently knows them all and tells me which one he wants to do and I turn it on for him. 

Bike Rides 

We've gotten really into bike rides during quarantine. Kinsley can now pedal her trike with basically no help from us, and Kyle has gotten really good at pedaling his bike with confidence, which has been huge for him. Derek and I just walk up and down our street while the kids ride to their content, and it's the best. 

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Visit a Free Little Library 

There are a couple of these libraries near us and we've been frequenting them the last couple weeks. These libraries can be found in people's driveways, parks, the side of the road... they're everywhere! You can find a list of ones near you here. The basic idea is that you take a book you want, and you leave a book to share. We've found some real gems and always leave a couple books behind for someone else too! 

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Board Games 

We've gotten into lots and lots of board games the last several weeks. Here is a post with some of our favorites... It's pretty outdated though, so I'll have to do an updated one soon!

Craft Box 

We took an old mason jar box and filled it with tons of arts and craft supplies. Whenever the kids are getting restless we pull the box out and let them go ham on all the supplies. It's the best money we've ever spent. 

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What are you doing right now to keep your kids busy and yourself sane? I'd love to hear in the comments below!

If you like this post, 16 Inside Activities for Kids, you might also like:

Be sure to stay up-to-date on all of the latest things in our lives by following along in instagram @thehappyflammily!

A Day In The Life In Quarantine (Hour by Hour Log!)

I haven't done a day in the life post in forever, and after giving a big life update in yesterday's post, I thought it would be fun to share with you all what our days really look like right now. I feel lucky to have a lot of help and support from Derek, especially in the mornings because I am not a morning person at all.

5:45am: Kinsley wakes up and needs her blankets put back on her. As you can imagine, it's difficult for a quadriplegic to get their blankets on when they're fully awake, so tucking herself back in when she's mostly asleep is kind of an issue.

7:00am: Kinsley needs her blankets adjusted again, I never fell back asleep from the last adjustment, so I'm exhausted and pass out again until 8am.

8:00am: Kinsley and Kyle both wake up. Kyle goes downstairs to get breakfast and Derek (who woke up sometime between Kinsley's first wakeup call and now) brings Kinsley down to eat while I start my morning routine.

8:05am: I wake up and start checking my email, read my scriptures, tidy our room and start some laundry, and then get dressed and do my hair for the day.

8:40am: I head downstairs and get Kinsley dressed and started on schoolwork.

9:00am: I make my oatmeal while Kinsley works on her writing worksheets. I sit down and eat while I help her through the rest of her schoolwork.

9:30am: Kinsley is done with her schoolwork and starts playing with toys while I start typing out this post on the couch.

9:35am: I share my blog post from today on all my social media channels, actually respond to the emails that came in through the middle of the night, and get a bulk of my blog work done for the day before lunchtime.

10:00am: I went upstairs to switch out the laundry and find our HSA debit card so I can order the kids new glasses. They got their prescriptions updated in January and I still never got them new glasses so I figured now was a good time to do that.

10:54am: After spending an hour going back and forth between different websites and finding frames for the kids, I finally got their glasses ordered, and now am heading back to my email to sift through the multiple emails that came through in the last little bit.

11:00am: I start writing a blog post about grooming your own dog at home. Writing takes about 35 minutes. I still need to take and edit pictures for later, but if feels good to have some work done for later in the week!

11:35am: The kids have been playing well together for the last hour so I go upstairs and hide in our walk in closet where Derek is working and sit on the floor and eat some spicy almonds.

11:45am: I finish my snack, change a load of laundry and then head downstairs and clean up the big toy mess from the kids before making lunch.

12:00pm: Kyle makes himself a quesadilla for lunch, Derek comes downstairs to eat with us and makes a turkey sandwich. Kinsley wanted a hot dog and peaches and I made myself a massive salad. Kinsley ended up eating the rest of my salad and I hopped back onto my computer to clear out a few more emails while Derek sat and ate with Kinsley.

12:30pm: The kids and I head upstairs for quiet time while I made a phone call. Our belt for our treadmill broke and I spent almost an hour on hold with customer service only for them to tell me the repair would cost more than it was worth and I should wait for our treadmill to explode before buying a new one.

1:30pm: I email the company that sent me the treadmill (I got it for free as a product testing opportunity), and ask if there are any options moving forward for them to send a new treadmill... not holding out much hope, but at least we have money in savings for a new one if we need to go that route.

1:45pm: I veg out on Instagram and youtube for a little bit before remembering I need to do my makeup for an Instagram picture I need to take. I then remember that I also need to put a new shirt on which leads me to folding all of the laundry that I did this morning, and to switch the darks into the dryer.

2:00pm: The kids say they're hungry and want a snack. Today we had granola bars and fruit snacks.

2:10pm: I finally change my shirt and recruit Derek to take the instagram picture for me.

2:19pm: Forget I'm supposed to be holding a sign in the picture, hop onto picmonkey to make the sign I need.

2:30pm: Decided I didn't like my hair in the picture, curled my hair and made Derek retake the picture.

2:40pm: Edit the pictures and send them over to the person that needed them for the Instagram collaboration.

2:45pm: Kinsley is playing games on the ipad and Kyle is downstairs watching Ninjago. I decide to get my running clothes on and get my workout done for the day- 75 minutes easy pace on the treadmill (still using it since it hasn't caught fire and killed me yet).

4:30pm: Finished my run (7.2 miles) and grabbed the mail. The kid's bathing suits that were supposed to be in their Easter baskets came. The kids were both thrilled and disappointed that it will be a long time before we can use them.

4:35pm: Finish up some last minute work for the day while eating some more spicy almonds, and drinking some water. Derek is playing a board game with Kinsley since he's done working for the day, and Kyle has turned off the TV and is playing downstairs.

5:00pm: I hop in the shower while Derek unloads and loads the dishwasher for me. Dinner goes in the oven.

5:45pm: Dinner is ready and we all sit down and eat together. The kids start going bonkers and I head out to get Derek and I a soda #priorities.

6:30pm: I get home from my soda run and Derek has already gotten the kids in bed. We sit on the couch for a few minutes before his family Facetimes us, and we get the kids out of bed to talk to them.

8:00pm: We get the kids back and bed and Derek and I watch the news together while I get some abs/core work done.

8:30pm: I look for pictures that we can post to The Bamboo Brace Instagram account, and go back and forth with my bosses on which picture we should post and the caption.

9:00pm: The kids both get out of bed again and I get up and get them back in bed.

9:35pm: I finish posting for The Bamboo Brace, get this post ready for tomorrow, watch a show with Derek and head off to bed!

What are your days looking like right now? I'd love to know in the comments! 

Be sure to stay up-to-date on all of the latest things in our lives by following along in instagram @thehappyflammily!

A Family Life Update (How We're Really Doing)

It's been a long time since I've sat down and just did an informal update on what's going on in everyones lives around our house. And since none of us have left our home for more then a couple hours in the last 40+ days, I figured I'd share what quarantine is really looking like in our home right now. 

First of all, we've been in "quarantine", or have been hunkered down in our house since February 27th. Ours started earlier than everyone else because that is the day Kinsley got pink eye. Right after she had pink eye, Kyle caught the flu. Then Kinsley had an ear infection, and caught the flu from Kyle at the same time. Neither of the kids had a chance to go back to school from their illnesses until the schools all closed, so we've been home together for a long time. 

Derek has been working at home since the second or third week in March. All the days kind of blur together at this point. While it's nice to have him home and know he's safe and won't (hopefully) catch the virus, it really throws our family dynamic for a loop. Kinsley is obsessed with Derek and when he's home she wants him non-stop. This just causes lots of whining and other undesirable behaviors, especially in the afternoon when she's done with schoolwork and doesn't really have anything else to do. I'm really tempted to send Derek back to his office at this point. He can't catch the virus if he's the only one in the building right? I kid, but man afternoons get rough over here. 

Other than that he's been playing a lot of online chess with his brother when he's not working or parenting, reading some book I couldn't even tell you the title of, and being the number one bike ride facilitator with the kids each day.

Kyle has been on spring break since last Thursday, and will be on spring break through this Friday (his is longer since he goes to a Catholic school and the kids have the days before Easter off to observe holy week). It's nice to not have to homeschool two kids this week. He's been doing well getting most of his schoolwork done each week, but I admittedly forget to have him do his music, Spanish, and art work each week. I'm 99% positive they can't hold my kid back for failing his specials at this point, so we're just doing the best we can with the core subjects and trying to not get overwhelmed by everything else. 

Kyle's school uses a book app called, Epic that he has been loving! We did the 30-day free trial, but now we're paying for it monthly #whoops. They have a ton of books that you can read, or read along with a narrator while you look at the pictures, or just straight up audiobooks. Kyle has been listening to the huge collection of Boxcar Children books on the app and is totally obsessed. I think it's funny that he doesn't even want to do something while he listens (color, play legos, etc...), he literally just stares at the iPad screen and listens to the book even though there is nothing happening on the screen. 

Kyle also relearned to ride his bike. He didn't ride it for basically two years because our home in Layton was on a busy street, and then when we moved here he had a flat tire that we didn't fix until a few weeks ago. He LOVES it now though and rides up and down the hill by our house all the time, pedals while standing up, and is a total pro at riding. It's super fun, and he even asks to go outside and ride by himself, which is huge because even when we had a fenced-in backyard, going out to play by himself was never of any interest for him. 

When not harassing Derek, Kinsley has been doing really well with her homeschool work. We've been floored by how well she traces her letters, attempts to write her name independently, she knows all her letter sounds, can identify most of her numbers 1-20... she's made such huge progress in kindergarten this year, so it's been fun to work with her at home and see all that she's learned for ourselves. We started doing the 4 Weeks to Read program with her, mostly to give us something to do in the afternoons, but also because... why not? Do I think she'll be reading in 4 weeks, not likely, but she has enjoyed the first 6-7 lessons we've done, and we'll keep doing it a few afternoons a week. 

On the afternoons we don't do reading lessons, we've been working through the Confessions of a Homeschooler preschool curriculum that we bought for Kyle when we used to homeschool him. Kinsley likes the activities and I think they're really perfect for where she's at academically right now. 

Kinsley's aides from school put together a bunch of little activities and games for her to play with at home. They're not mandatory at all, but they did it simply because they missed the kids and wanted to do something fun for them. I'm so sad Derek was the one that answered the door and that I didn't get to see them! They put so much time and effort into them and it makes me so happy to know that Kinsley has amazing teachers and aides at school who love and support her! 

Kinsley has also had amazing improvement riding her bike as well! She has gotten to the point where on a flat surface she can pedal independently, and even back herself up, and turn herself around and change direction without needing any help at all. This is basically our easiest form of PT right now because she loves it, and it needs little effort from Derek and I. We're hoping all the leg strength she's building will have payoffs down the road. 

Also just because I know people will ask, all of Kinsley's PT/OT/SPL appointments have been canceled, and everything for her potential upcoming surgery are on hold until at least may. She is kind of getting services through school, but PT was mostly just a list of stretches and things that we should do whenever, along with OT. SPL seems a little more intense on the school end, and I honestly haven't even wrapped my brain around starting that yet... especially since Kinsley talks all day long I don't feel motivated to do it if I'm being super honest. 

It more often than not feels like a massive undertaking homeschooling the kids and being responsible for their education, but I know we're doing the best we can and we luckily have a supportive school staff we can fall back on for help. I've had to remind myself that some things matter and a lot of things don't. Kyle has been struggling with writing in school (not actual handwriting, but coming up with ideas and topics to write about for assignments), and being able to zoom conference with his teacher and have her help him one-on-one with that has been such a weight off of Derek and I who were spending way too much time working through those assignments with him, where his teacher can help him in a fraction of the time. That in itself has been a huge blessing. 

I've been doing lots of baking and trying new recipes (as I'm sure you can tell with the influx of recipes over here). We've been eating homemade bread weekly, and have had more treats than I care to admit, but when in quarantine right? 

I decided since I have more time for running than ever before, I should start training like an elite runner and see where that gets me. I set a goal to see how much I can improve on my 10k time in one year, and see if there is any hope of me coming remotely close to the olympic standard in the 10k on the track, which is 32 minutes. My current PR is 55 minutes, but I did that with almost no training and then dealt with injuries for an entire year after that, so I think at baseline I could actually do much better than 55 minutes. 

I'm planning on doing three 8-week training cycles, and at the end of each cycle either run a race (if races are back on) or a time trial on the track to see where I'm at. At the end of the three cycles I plan on running a 10k on the track in Santa Barbara, CA in September with a goal time of 40 minutes. A lot of people have asked why Santa Barbara, and it's just because they have a track meet there every year that is open to everyone (most meets are for elite runners or NCAA athletes and since I don't have a sports agent because I'm not an elite runner... I can't get into most of them). The race will also be at sea level, which should hopefully give me some benefit since I live and train at 4,000+ feet. 

That is basically everything and more than you wanted to know about our lives right now. I'd love to hear what you're up to and how things are going for you in the comments! 

Be sure to stay up-to-date on all of the latest things in our lives by following along in instagram @thehappyflammily!