Things have been a bit busy but in the most wonderful sort of way.

We welcomed Wesley Carl into our family on February 7th, 2014 at 7:45 am. He weighed 8 lbs 2 oz and was 21 inches long. After a difficult delivery and an even more difficult recovery, I am finally feeling like a human again and am excited to begin our new normal.

Isn’t life beautiful? Yes, yes it is.

edina birth photography

Edina Birth Photography

Southdale Hospital Birth Photography

Minneapolis Birth Photography

Eden PRairie newborn photography


Minneapolis newborn photography

  • Jody Bohrer says:

    Amazing photos! Thanks for sharing your story with us, Jennifer!

    (March 25, 2014 at 9:32 am)
  • Lisa Ventura Olson says:

    Beautiful pics! So glad you are feeling better Jennifer! Please just enjoy your time with Wesley! You are such a n awesome Mom & I know 1more boy won’t be problem for you so be gentle with yourself since newborns are so much work!
    Love & miss you, Lisa

    (February 26, 2014 at 2:08 pm)
  • Rebecca Martinson says:

    Oh. My. Goodness. He is so perfect!

    (February 25, 2014 at 10:26 am)

the best pumpkin bread ever | with brown sugar sauce (gluten free option too!)

Are you ready to have your palate rocked? I have had no less that 15 requests for this recipe since I posted about it on Facebook (about an hour ago).Mostly, the inquirers were friends and family that have had a little piece of this heaven sometime during the last two pumpkin seasons. I’m not sure how autumn ever went on without this recipe so thanks to my cousin for giving it to me! The bread itself is delicious but adding the buttery, carmely, vanilly sauce is a little piece of heaven. In fact, one year when I obviously forgot an ingredient and the bread was a little flat,  six adults and a few small children devoured a whole loaf; dipping the pieces in the sauce as we went. It was super classy but it is so. hard. to. stop. eating.

Last weekend I made 3 loaves; 2 regular and one with Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose, gluten-free flour. We were attending a small group event and some of the attendees do not eat wheat. I made no other changes to the recipe and by looking at it I could not tell the difference in the 3 loaves.  It was my first attempt at using gluten-free flour and I was really nervous about how it would change the taste of this recipe. Our group was cancelled, but I dropped off the loaf anyway and got a text an hour later saying the family couldn’t stop eating it. Success!

Try this little fall gem and see what you think!




Pumpkin Bread and Carmel Sauce

By Jennifer Published: October 2, 2013

  • Yield: 2 loaves
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 45-55 mins
  • Ready In: 60 mins

A delicious autumn bread with a sweet sauce. It lends itself well to a gluten-free option as well.



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and spice in large bowl.
  3. In separate bowl, mix together shortening, water, pumpkin, and eggs.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix until just combined. Batter will be slightly lumpy. Don't over mix!
  5. Pour batter into 2 greased 10 inch loaf pans.
  6. Bake for 40-50 minutes.
  7. For sauce: Melt butter over low-medium heat, add brown sugar, evaporated milk, and vanilla. Bring to boil. Add cornstarch to thicken and whisk. Enjoy pure deliciousness.

    I went to Madeline Island when I was little and I still remember riding the ferry over and the captain letting me look in the wheel house.  I remember my parents telling me and my sister that the water was too cold to swim in but we did get to feed the ducks. We fed them Cheetos, actually, and one of the ducks bit my sister’s finger. It’s funny the things we remember from our childhood.

    Last year we went to Duluth and loved it but this year we wanted to go a bit more off the beaten path. We decided on Madeline Island this spring and started exploring our housing options. At first we thought we wanted to rent a house but we procrastinated and the only homes left when we were ready to book were for 8 or more people. We settled on Lakeside Condominiums and couldn’t have been happier. You can see the view from the living room below. We also had a quiet beach just steps away and I’m sure we walked the short half mile in to town a dozen times during our stay.

    When we made our summer bucket list we made sure to include things we planned on doing on the island. As much as we love a laid back vacation, it was nice to have some focus when it came to things we wanted to get done. Some items were gimmies like ride a ferry and visit an island but they are items that the boys got very excited for. Hudson talked about riding the “tooth fairy boat” almost daily throughout the summer. We also wanted to explore the sea caves, go hiking, visit a new beach, go star gazing, swim in a lagoon, and ride a glass-bottomed boat. The hiking and new beach were things we could have done around Minneapolis but on our last free weekend of the summer I was hospitalized with meningitis. We had big plans for that weekend, hoping to cross off several items from our bucket list, but I am thankful that I’m healthy again and that Hurlburt Baby #3 seemed totally unfazed by the baby momma health drama.

    We rented kayaks from Apostle Island Kayaks. Now, I will say that I was skeptical because there were some less-than-stellar reviews online. We did not book until we got to the island for that reason. However, Ed, the owner, was fabulous. He was kind, great with the boys and told us exactly what we needed to know to have our kayak adventure. We will absolutely return to him until the boys are old enough to do some overnight kayak adventures with Living Adventure. You must remember when traveling here that almost all the businesses run on “island time.” If island time isn’t your expectation, you may find yourself irritated and frustrated. While we were told to be at Apostle Island Kayaks at 9:15am we then ended up needing to wait because the ferry was bringing more kayakers. By the time we got to the lake, got our instruction and hopped in our kayaks it was nearly 10. “Don’t worry about being back by 1. 1:30 is fine,” Ed told us as we headed out. I didn’t take my camera. It was just too new of an experience and I wasn’t sure how we’d do and if we’d all stay dry. Also, Ed said if it’s in the kayak it will get wet, so while kayaking and visiting the sea caves we just had my i-Phone. I was nervous to even take it but knew I needed to document our adventure. I’m glad I didn’t bring the camera. Everything did get wet and once we got out of the bay, I realized why they called it sea kayaking. We were in, what I felt were, some pretty intense waters. I didn’t expect kayaking on whitecaps and I did panic a little bit but luckily I hid it from my kids and my lovely husband helped reassure me we were fine. We couldn’t get as far into the sea caves as I thought but I guess the deeper ones are on other islands. We’ll have to check those out another year.

    Kayaking was our big adventure. The rest of the time we spent hiking and the boys spent a ridiculous amount of time in the cold water. They’d come in with blue lips and shivering but these fish can’t pass up an opportunity to get in the water. They had fun playing in the waves and searching for rocks. Corbin skipped his first rocks on the island; a feat he’s been trying to accomplish all summer. We came upon a bear in the road and watched some amazing sunsets. We even woke the boys up for the meteor shower but only saw a few. We visited Grampa Tony’s for ice cream nearly every night and Hudson cried when he realized he probably wouldn’t be able to eat Superman ice cream when we left the island. We canoed and swam in a beautiful lagoon. We learned about all the great shipwrecks of Lake Superior despite bailing on the glass-bottomed boat adventure because we were told you couldn’t really see any shipwrecks. We had mornings of sleeping in and I had evenings post-bedtime relaxing in a huge Jacuzzi tub. I miss that tub. We were cut off from technology a lot of the time and we made some awesome memories. We fed the ducks – Goldfish for this generation. My boys want to look at the pictures over and over again.  It was an amazing vacation and we are excited to go back again.

    Madeline Island Vacation

    Madeline Island Vacation

    Madeline Island Vacation

    Madeline Island Vacation

    Swimming in Superior

    Swimming in Superior

    Swimming in Superior

    View from our living room

    Madeline Island Canoing

    Canoeing in the lagoon

    Apostle Island Kayak

    Sea Caves, Lake Superior

    Sea Caves, Lake Superior

    Sea Caves, Lake Superior

    Sea Caves, Lake Superior

    Sea Caves, Lake Superior

    Madeline Island

    Grampa Tony's Superman Ice Cream, Madeline Island

    Madeline Island Sunset

    Madeline Island Sunset


    Madeline Island Vacation

    Riding the ferry back

    Madeline Island Vacation


    Minneapoils kids summer bucket list

    Oh, Minnesota…thank you for finally gracing us with summer. This past weekend we decided we were going to build our kid wash/bike wash. We made a family trip to Home Depot and grabbed all the PVC pipe and fittings plus some purple cement-like stuff that apparently seals it all together. We headed home and the boys went down for the night. I went to work out and by the time I got back, Brandon had it nearly finished it. So much for getting in-process photos! The mosquitos were getting so bad (oh, Minnesota, I could have done without those…) so he headed in and finished it in the morning.

    I had big plans, people. I mean I was going to get snacks and drinks and invite the neighborhood over. Well, I had already invited them but told them it was for the afternoon. Brandon thought he better test out the bike wash in the driveway as soon as he finished. Of course, one of our friends just happened to ride by with her two kiddos as it was being tested and so began the first session of bike washing. After a bit another family stopped by. So much for my big plans. It was cool and cloudy and overall just not a beautiful morning for water play but the kids played and the moms talked and I grabbed some snacks and drinks for all to enjoy. Not the snacks and drinks I had planned on for the night because those hadn’t been bought but I figured I’d make the best of it. Yes, on the inside I was pouting. Big plans, remember people?

    Later in the afternoon the sun came out and I let everyone know we were turning it back on at 6:30. I ran out and bought snacks and drinks and frantically texted wives about what kind of beer their husbands like best. Neither of us like it so I’m beer clueless.  I set up some benches and chairs and put out the food and drinks. Guess what people? Three hours and 22 people in my front yard later, I high-fived my husband because seriously it was an awesome night. The littles played in the bike wash and with water squirters and ate and played some more. Bonus: They all played so NICELY together.  Twelve kids, ages 1-8 all played delightfully together with no major meltdowns. It was beautiful. It also left parents lots of time to talk (and laugh). We ended the night feeling so blessed to live in such a great neighborhood made of wonderful families and fabulous kids that my children adore.

    Who would have thought a bike wash could bring on such gratitude. It’s the little things my friends.

    DIY Bike Wash

    We used these plans. We didn’t add the gate. Also, it should be noted that the measurements are not correct on this page. The red actually is 3ft and the orange is 1ft. I’m thankful for my hubby on this one because I would have not noticed the error until I had everything cut. The plastic rainbow streamers are actually meant for a doorway and are from Ikea.


    • Diane W. says:

      What an awesome project! Dylan says, “Make one for us!”

      (June 20, 2013 at 8:31 pm)

    Minneapoils kids summer bucket list

    This weekend was a yucky one. I think I speak for most Minnesotans when I say I’m really ready for summer to get here…like right now. The boys have been begging to go so after picking up some poles and bait we headed to a local lake to do some shore fishing. Brandon and Corbin each caught a fish. Corbin named his Jake. That kind of attachment was a bad idea because poor Jake swallowed the hook and we knew it wouldn’t end well for him. After talking to the boys about how we release, we let Jake go. He kept resurfacing every 30 seconds or so and then would drift away from the dock. I mentioned to Brandon that Jake might make a good lunch for the seagulls. Corbin overheard this and started yelling at any seagull that happened to fly over us. Then, it happened. A seagull swooped down, scooped up Jake, and tried to fly away. Corbin pulled his hood over his head and fell to his knees. It was quite dramatic and the poor kid was a bit traumatized. Luckily Brandon noticed that the seagull had landed in the water and told Corbin that Jake was just too much of a fighter to get eaten by a seagull. Thankfully he was alright with that truth and all was well with the world again. Hudson is not quite patient enough for the whole fishing thing yet, but he had fun casting over and over and over again. I know you are all dying to meet him so here is; Jake in all his glory!

    Summer Bucket List Fishing

    summer bucket list: fishing!


    Minneapoils kids summer bucket list

    Last weekend we headed down to Dayton, Iowa to a camp where my husband and his sister (and their mom and auntie!)  went when they were younger. Brandon’s mom’s family planned a family reunion at the camp and we had a great time. They property houses a hotel so (thankfully!) we got all the amenities of a hotel while still being able to step outside and be one with nature. We had quality time connecting and had some adventures that we might not have had otherwise. We canoed, shot bows and arrows, shot bb guns, went paddle boating, shot a potato cannon, swam, and roasted s’mores. We crossed our first bucket list adventure off our list and best of all, were surrounded by family.


    paddle boating

    dayton iowa

    Brandon shoots bow and arrow

    HIdden Acres Iowa

    shoot a potato cannon

    Jennifer Hurlburt

    feed the horses, hidden acres

    the gochnauer clan

    Baby Joe


    Minneapoils kids summer bucket list

    I know you’re all already signed up for The Happy Family Movement’s Summer Bucket List Challenge (SBLC), right? If not, you still have time to head on over and sign-up! Need some more convincing? Check out our 2013 summer bucket list!

    If you’ve done the SBLC in the past, you may notice some exciting changes for this year. This year there is a brand spankin’ new SBLC Facebook Community. Here you can follow along fellow SBLC’ers and even find other bucket lists from your area of the country. On Instagram you can tag your SBLC adventures with #happyfamilysummer and search the hashtag to find other people making their summer awesome.

    Still making your list? Looking for more ideas or tips on how to make your list?  There’s a board for that! Follow the  Summer Bucket List Inspiration board on Pinterest. If you follow all my boards, you’re already following the SBLC Inspiration board.

    Join us tonight for a Summer Bucket List Pinspiration Party at 8 pm CST! Jenny Solar of The Happy Family Movement is hosting and she’s got a fabulous group (if I do say so myself) of guest pinners as well. Just follow the SBLC Inspiration board I told you about above and watch your feed blow up with awesome ideas for summer.

    Wondering who’s in this fabulous group? Well, lucky you I have the inside scoop. Go and check them out so you know who you’re hanging out with tonight!

    Ellie Petrov – Creative Geekery Blog
    Michelle Wear – Table for Five
    Casey Chancellor-Ray – Phreckle Face Photography Blog
    Megan Hemphill – Prairie & Co
    Anna-Leigh McClelland – My Lens is Ruby Red
    Eden Hensley – The Road to the Good Life
    Amy Lee – The Connection We Share , and of course
    Jennifer Hurlburt – jennifer witt | the blog


    minneapolis children bucket list

    This is not going to be the most feel-good post. It’s not the most feel-good topic. However, I feel like it’s a topic that I need to address and it’s a topic that needs to be talked about, openly and honestly, no matter how uncomfortable it is for us. So, for today, for just this one post with a more serious tone, hang with me and maybe you’ll read something that you could be helpful to you.

    protecting kids sexual abuse

    I’m passionate about protecting children. Although not something I write about often on this blog, it is not a secret that I was not protected as a child. Like many other survivors of childhood trauma, it sparked a fire inside of me to help other children. Becoming a parent made me realize how much I can do to protect my own children and it is so important to me to empower other parents as well. So humor me for a few minutes while I speak to you as an adult who survived a childhood of sexual abuse and as a parent who has vowed to protect and empower my own children and hopefully encourage a few other parents to do the same.

    I tell my children that two of my jobs as a mom are to keep them safe and happy. Of course, we all know that our job is much deeper than that but I started saying it when my five year old was around three. Safe and happy are words three year olds understand. I remind my kiddos of my job whenever they get upset about a safety issue that they just feel is unfair like wanting to cross the road on their bikes before I get to the intersection or wanting to swim in the lake as a thunderstorm approaches. Reminding them that one of my jobs is to keep them safe seems to squelch any whining about it. So far it’s worked like a charm. I’m not naïve enough to think it will always be this way, but for now I’m running with it.

    As parents (or aunties or uncles or grandparents or caregivers or anyone who is influencing a child’s growth and development), it is our job to protect our kids. Here’s the not-so-fun reality. We can’t protect them from everything or everyone. There are certain things like the feelings of failure or embarrassment that hurt our hearts to see our kids go through. We will be there to support them and help them process but we can’t protect them from those emotions. We also, unless we choose to be with our children at all moments or keep them in a bubble, cannot guarantee that someone will not hurt or try to hurt them. At some point our kids will not be with us for nearly 100% of the time. There’s school and sports and birthday parties and at some point they will be under someone else’s care.

    Just trying to prevent sexual abuse isn’t enough because it fails for 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys. The statistics are staggering and if this were a disease we’d be at epidemic proportions. It can be scary. Terrifying actually, to think of the children you know and apply those statistics. As a survivor I had to decide what to do with that reality. For me, the best thing I could do was to educate myself on how to empower my children. I had to recognize that I could do everything in my power to keep them safe but I also needed to start planting seeds that would help if prevention failed. The only thing worse than your child being abused is your child being abused again because they are scared, ashamed, or confused about what happened and what they should do about it.

    Below are the strategies we have used in our home and most importantly why we do them.

    1. Children are entitled to their own personal space. Children should have the right to sleep, toilet, bathe, and dress privately. Of course, safety comes first and you are the decider of when a child is capable of bathing and toileting on their own. If a child asks for privacy during these activities, give them as much as possible while still maintaining a safe environment.

    2. Personal space also means choosing who they kiss and hug. I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of telling our child to go give Grandma a hug or a kiss. Children should have the final decision in who they decide to be affectionate with. It’s tricky, I know. You don’t want Grandma to feel bad and you know they are a safe person, but ultimately, you’re trying to teach your child that they are in control of their body. Explain to family members that letting the child make the decision keeps them safe because they begin to realize that they don’t have to do what adults what them to do if it makes them uncomfortable.

    3. Teach proper names for body parts. I have followed this rule from the beginning with my kids. Trust me; it was not easy for me to have that first conversation about a vagina with my son. I tried to dance around the issue when he asked me if I had a penis. I just told him I didn’t but he would NOT let it go so finally I had to tell him what I had. Oh, the awkwardness. Here’s the thing, there are actually several reasons for this suggestion. One is that just as kids learn rules about their other body parts (for instance, we don’t hit with our hands or we don’t pick our nose or we keep our mouths closed when we eat) we also have rules for penises and vaginas. No one touches them unless it’s to keep us safe or clean. This is a pretty broad rule and you can tailor it to fit your needs.

    Another reason for this is because pedophiles use all kinds of cutesy names for these body parts to make abuse seem like a game. Ultimately, if your child knows the correct names and they are talked about in a matter-of-fact way, they will be more likely to come to you if something inappropriate has happened. They will also be able to say NO to the abuser because they know the rules for that body part.

    4. Surprises are great! Secrets are not. Teach your child the difference between a secret and a surprise. “A surprise is something that is going to happen and that is going to be happy. A secret is something that is never told and a lot of times it may make you feel sad or yucky in your tummy or heart.” Secrets should never be kept about their bodies. Reassure them that you will always do whatever you can to make them have a happy heart. Let them know if something is making them feel bad, it’s your job as a parent (or caregiver or family member) to make them feel better and that you always want to know if something is making them upset. If your child feels secure in the fact that you won’t blame them and that you will always make a decision that protects and keeps them happy, they will be more likely to confide with you if something has happened.

    5. Be honest and matter of fact. When talking about private parts, touching, sex, and personal safety, even if you are totally freaked out, remain calm and be honest. It does not mean you need to tell your 3 year old exactly how his brother got in Mommy’s tummy. It does mean you should tell them what will satisfy their curiosity, at an age appropriate level and most importantly, honestly. Oh, yes, it can be uncomfortable. It can make you want to crawl inside yourself, but once you start doing it you’ll be amazed at how easy it becomes.

    6. Use the words “safe and unsafe touches”. If you’re a product of the 80’s like I am, you’ve heard of good touch/bad touch. We heard about it at school and it was a ridiculously uncomfortable lesson. Here’s the thing, we should already be talking to kids before they enter school about appropriate and inappropriate touches. Most children equate good touches with touches that feel good and bad touches with touches that hurt. Abuse does not always hurt. Children can be very confused at the fact that physically it feels good but emotionally and mentally, it is making them feel horrible and full of shame.Teaching children what safe and unsafe touches are helps eradicate this confusion for the child.

    I’m learning as I go, of course, and just recently had a more in-depth talk with my five year old. All children are different and I don’t know that my youngest will be ready for this same talk at the same age but I know my oldest is. He’s the one that didn’t want to get out of the lake when a thunderstorm warning was issued. The lifeguards told everyone to exit the lake. “But it’s not even raining,why?? Why? Why?” yells the three year old. “Because my job is to keep you safe and it’s not safe to swim in the lake during a thunderstorm.” This persists for a few more minutes while I try to quickly pack up two young children and all of our belongings. It wasn’t until I got down, looked him in the eye and said, “Corbin, when it thunderstorms there is usually lightening. If you are in the water and lightening comes, you will start on fire.” He looked satisfied with that answer and started to help me pack up. It’s one example of my extremely matter-of-fact child. I have so many examples that sometimes I think I should write a book!

    Here were the highlights of our impromptu conversation from last night. It came up when he was talking about bad guys. We were snuggled on the couch just chatting as if we were talking about his day. It’s important that these conversations not be “the talk” and that they be ongoing and comfortable for your child. If you are anxious about it, your child feeds off of your anxiety. Since we’ve laid a strong foundation, it’s not uncomfortable anymore. It’s just another conversation that we have when it comes up.

    1. “Your body is yours and no one else can touch you if you don’t want them to.”

    2. “You can always say “no” if someone is doing something or touching you in a way you don’t like.”

    3. “If someone touches you in way you don’t like you need to tell an adult right away. If that adult doesn’t keep you safe, you keep telling adults until someone does something to get you safe.”

    4. “Some people like to trick kids”. (we then talked about what that might look like) “Some people who like to trick kids, look like nice people and maybe you already know them a little bit.” This is the hardest for me to actually say. 80-90% of children are abused by people they know. My abuse was within the family so I know I have to talk about that “bad guys” aren’t all scary looking and they aren’t all mean, but it still sucks to say.

    5. “If you think someone is trying to trick you or take you, you should run away or lay down on the ground and scream, punch, kick, yell ‘help!’.”

    6. “A grown-up will never ask a kid for help.” I understand that we do ask our kids for help but we talked about what it would look like if a grownup was at a park and asked for help because he was lost. My uber-logical child recognized this was ridiculous and that an adult would ask another adult for help. For now, I feel like it’s a good general rule.

    7. “It is not safe to go with someone who says they will give you ice cream/candy or want you to come look at something (like a puppy). You always ask the adult you are with for permission.”

    8. “If you get lost, find a mom with kids and tell her you’re lost.” I know it’s stereotypical, but I think it’s a pretty logically sound rule.

    9.”You do not have to touch anyone else’s body even if they tell you to. If someone makes you do that, you tell an adult right away and keep telling until you are safe.”

    10. We ended the conversation by talking about that he didn’t need to talk to his friends (or little brother) about what we talked about. I said it wasn’t a secret because their parents would talk about it with them when they had time. I reminded him that it was his friends’ parents’ job to talk with them.

    Let me reiterate that not every child is the same. Some children might be terrified by that conversation. This particular child is not. Again, we all know our children and their personalities and what works for me, may not work for you. However, at some point, sooner rather than later, the important points in the conversation I had with my child should be talked about. I am confident knowing that because of the openness we have about discussing not-so-fun stuff, my child will feel comfortable coming to me with questions or if something inappropriate ever did happen.

    So there’s my yearly stand-on-my-soapbox moment. Stay tuned next week as we start crossing things off our summer bucket list!

    • Jennifer says:

      Thanks Kelly! I’m sure you were a fantastic support system for those families. I don’t want to be a downer by posting about this periodically but keeping quiet doesn’t help anyone. Thanks for stopping by!

      (May 19, 2013 at 8:58 am)
    • This is very well written, Jennifer, and I applaud you for discussing sexual abuse and your personal experiences. I worked as an LCSW serving primarily children affected by sexual abuse and their families–this should be required reading by every human being. We discussed touching in the context of body safety rules which seemed to really have resonance with younger children. Thanks again.

      (May 18, 2013 at 8:44 pm)

    2013 Summer Bucket List

    Welcome to the new readers from The Happy Family Movement! I’m thrilled to have you here. We participated in the 2012 Summer Bucket List Challenge (SBLC) and it rocked our summer. My kids have been waiting all winter to start working on this year’s list. I (Jennifer) have two boys; Corbin is 5 and Hudson is 3 ½. I am very lucky to do what I love which is teaching kiddos that don’t have all the odds in their favor. I help them get ready for a successful kindergarten year. It’s an amazing and rewarding job and, of course, it’s an added bonus that I get my summers off with my boys. I used to do photography “on the side.” Now, I just do it because I love it. My husband, Brandon, and I are high school sweethearts and share a strong commitment in raising happy kids who feel love unconditionally. He is a software architect and although he works all summer, we do our best to make sure our bucket list items (or adventures as we call them in this house) are completed as a family.

    We are participating in the Summer Bucket List Challenge again this year because it was such an awesome experience in 2012. Having all summer off is a definite blessing but at the end of the summers I was finding myself thinking of those activities we had talked about doing but never got around to. It wasn’t for lack of time, but for lack of planning and the mentality that we could do it tomorrow….or the next day, or the next day. The SBLC gave us some focus in our summer activities. In those moments of; “What should we do tonight?” or “What should we do this weekend?” we turned to the bucket list and started having a/planning for an adventure. We had 60 adventures on our bucket list last year. It was a little ambitious. While we didn’t do everything on our list, we still had an epic summer and I learned an important lesson (thankfully early in the summer): Having adventures isn’t about crossing them off the list, it’s about living the adventures together.

    Like a lot of families, we can get caught up in the day-to-day activities. My body can be at the beach with my kids, but my mind is thinking about what tomorrow brings and what my to-do list looks like. I felt like I was doing a pretty good job of remaining “in the moment” in life but the bucket list changed my outlook on that. I can’t explain it fully, but for me having an adventure from the bucket list was a very different experience than just going and doing something with the kiddos. During an adventure, it felt almost sinful to be contemplating dinner choices. It made family time intentional and I was mindful of my children and husband in [nearly] every moment, even the quiet ones where the to-do list usually starts knocking. I started living like that in our daily lives more often after I recognized what peace it brings and how precious these moments are.  Maybe that mindfulness is why nearly all my favorite memories from last summer are during one of our adventures.

    Our list is now complete and we cannot WAIT to start our adventures. The boys are 100% invested in completing the list and keep saying, “When momma’s done with her boys and girls we can start it.” Having it up so early only adds to their excitement.  I’m quite certain they’ll have the list memorized before summer even reaches us. It’s hanging on a wall at the center of our kitchen/dining room/living room. It’s the perfect place to see it every day. I made a little SBLC 2013 seal for our family that I’ll use when making our yearly family scrapbook. I added it to the bottom of each adventure to fill the space where a picture will go once the adventure is complete.

    Last year, I was excited. This year I’m down-right antsy. I can’t wait for our adventures – not just to cross them off the list but to experience them with this incredible little family we’ve created. Also, knowing warmer weather is coming doesn’t hurt. For us, being part of the Summer Bucket List Challenge is all about being a family, creating memories, and carrying on what is now a tradition. I’m stoked for another epic summer!

    I hope you’ll join me in the Summer Bucket List Challenge this summer! You can head on over to The Happy Family Movement’s Summer Bucket List Challenge  page and get all the details.

    happy family movement

    bucket list

    summer fun happy family bucket list children


    • [...] we made our summer bucket list we made sure to include things we planned on doing on the island. As much as we love a laid back [...]

      (August 18, 2013 at 8:12 pm)
    • Nicole says:

      Love all these adventures.

      (May 26, 2013 at 3:00 pm)
    • [...] I know you’re all already signed up for The Happy Family Movement’s Summer Bucket List Challenge (SBLC), right? If not, you still have time to head on over and sign-up! Need some more convincing? Check out our 2013 summer bucket list! [...]

      (May 22, 2013 at 11:09 am)
    • Jennifer says:

      Hi Jodi! We will be doing the glass bottom boat and the lagoon on Madeline Island this summer on our vacation. Flat Pennies is near Red Wing and is an ice cream/train place that I’ve heard good things about. Garvin Heights is in Winona (where my grandparents lived when I was younger and where I went to college) so we’ll be heading there on our camping trip :) The drive-in we went to last year closed :( We are going to Vali Hi this year ( Thanks for following our adventures!

      (May 21, 2013 at 11:56 am)
    • jodi says:

      Gotta ask..where do you go to the drive in, ride on a glass bottom boat, and swim in a lagoon in Minneapolis? And what is visit Flat Pennies and Garvin Heights? These sound so fun but I didn’t realize there was the possibility to do these things here. I have always wanted to go to the drive in but there aren’t any here in Northern Minnesota so would definatly come down to Minneapolis.

      (May 20, 2013 at 5:43 pm)
    • Meryl says:

      These look like so much fun. I was thinking just last night that we needed a bike wash soon!

      (May 13, 2013 at 12:26 pm)
    • Love the seal and love the cards. Go you! And Happy Mother’s Day! :)

      (May 12, 2013 at 1:11 pm)
    • Megan H says:

      Love, love, love the logo! The ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ is such a great idea. I wish I’d thought of it – maybe I’ll put that on our unofficial SBL. ;)

      (May 10, 2013 at 1:15 am)
    • I love your family crest design. So creative!

      (May 2, 2013 at 7:48 pm)
    • I can’t wait to see your music video ;-) What fun!! You’ve got a great list!

      (May 2, 2013 at 4:48 pm)
    • Wow that’s an extensive list, can’t wait to read all about these activities!

      (May 2, 2013 at 12:28 pm)
    • Diane W. says:

      You’ve got some pretty awesome adventures there – no wonder the boys are so excited!

      (May 1, 2013 at 6:20 pm)
    • michelle says:

      Love those! I document a day in our life every month. It’s so fun to look back on. Good luck completely everything.

      (May 1, 2013 at 12:16 pm)

    summer bucket list seal

    It’s almost time for The Happy Family Movement’s Summer Bucket List Challenge (SBLC)! Have you signed up yet? You should go do that as soon as you have finished reading this. I whipped up our cute little SBLC seal/logo/emblem as I work on learning Adobe Illustrator. I will use it as a placeholder for pictures on the bucket list we will hang up and will also use it when I’m scrapbooking our year. You’ll also find it at the top of all my SBLC posts.

    We have been talking about the SBLC in our house already and I was thinking about some things I learned during last year’s SBLC. I thought I’d pass along some tips that might help you and your family.

    Hype it up! The SBLC is so much more enjoyable when everyone is excited about it. The more excited you are, the more excited your kiddos (and husband?) will be. I can attest to the awesomeness of the experience when everyone is genuinely excited about completing it together.

    Be [kind of] prepared! When you see an item you need for one of your adventures, especially on sale, buy it! It makes adventures like having a silly string fight doable at a moment’s notice. Of course, sometimes running out to gather supplies can be a family adventure by itself. Do what works for you.

    Let it marinate. After your initial brainstorming session, let the bucket list marinate; a week, three weeks, let there be some time to just rest on it. You’ll add great ideas and maybe weed out a few that might not work for whatever reason.

    Post it where all can see. It’s one of the first things we see as we walk in the door. We have ours stationed on a small wall in our living room that’s flanked by the kitchen and the dining room. It’s a perfect place to view it every day.

    Let everyone have input. No matter how silly it may seem to you, a suggestion by your little one means a lot to them. If your kiddos are anything like mine, they will remind you often which adventures they contributed.

    Be ambitious…but not too ambitious. We had 60 items on our bucket list last year. It was a bit excessive and I needed to remember that our bucket list adventures were not the only adventures we would have during the summer. We didn’t make it through everything but still had an epic summer. We added some items this year that are a bit ambitious but are still doable and adventures we’d like to try together.

    Gimmes. Put some things on the list that are things you have done before or even every summer that you want to make extra special. I prefer semi-gimmes. We are at the beach a lot in the summer but last year I put “visit a new beach” on our list . It has just enough new-ness to be an adventure.

    Do you. Every family is unique. A brainstorming session might work for you or maybe it works best to just have a conversation about it over several weeks and gather ideas that way. You may have all your adventures on the calendar by month, week, or day (be careful it doesn’t feel like a chore to-do list!), maybe you do each one as you feel like it with little planning, or if you’re like us we have some of the big things planned and the smaller ones we’ll do when the mood strikes. Do whatever is going to bring your family the most joy.

    Keep it fun! This may really seem like a stupid thing to say. I mean, it’s a summer bucket list, how much more fun could it be? Well in the first week or so of last year I almost burned out. I called it “bucket list hangover.” Here’s the proof. We put a little too much on our list, tried to do a lot in one week, and it all of a sudden felt like a to-do list. As a recovering perfectionist, I got caught up in getting through it all instead of pausing and really enjoying the moments.  I felt totally guilty but luckily it happened early in the summer and I fully enjoyed the rest of it. I didn’t sweat that we didn’t finish it because I know we embraced every moment we had together. This year I am going in knowing we will finish it (we were much more realistic) and knowing that I will savor every moment of summer with my family.

    Don’t forget to go sign up for this year’s Summer Bucket List Challenge! While you’re there, check out all the other great things The Happy Family Movement has on their site.

    How is your family coming with your summer bucket list? Do you have any other tips to add?

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    • Jennifer says:

      Thanks Jenny! I totally did a little happy dance :)

      (April 19, 2013 at 9:58 am)
    • What an INCREDIBLE list! Thanks for sharing Jennifer!!! Can’t wait to share this with the HFM crowd!

      (April 18, 2013 at 8:04 pm)