Teaching Little Ones Kindess (made easy!)

Y’all, being a parent is tough! We have to keep them clothed (okay that’s kind of fun!), fed, clean, AND teach them to be good humans. I’m tired just writing about it. One of my major challenges lately is teaching my children, in an age appropriate way, about kindness, gratitude, and service.

It can be difficult for little minds to understand why we give back to our community and even more difficult for them to put themselves in another’s shoes to truly understand kindness and empathy. And honestly, as a parent, it can be exhausting to come up with simple ways to SHOW them. That’s why I’m absolutely obsessed with these Kindness Cards from Minor Details CLE! Her claim to fame is her gorg custom wedding and party invitations for celebrations + milestones, but she also creates adorable creations of all kinds. I’m kind of obsessed with everything she crafts for littles, including her fill in the blank thank you cards and family adventure cards.

Intended to be led by a young family member (think preschool-1st grade in my opinion), these kindness cards take all the guess-work out of instilling kindness with fun, family activities. While there are a few that are holiday specific, many can be used year round, which is what we’re doing with them! 

My plan is to use the Christmas-specific ones over the next two weeks, and after use one a week until we finish them off! I’m going to write the date on the back when we complete it and save it for next year. (Honestly, you could even start them after Christmas, doing 1-2 per month in the new year, then using the holiday ones next December!) I don’t know that she’ll have them again next year, so I’d snag them now while you can!  

We completed one earlier this week, No.15 Sing Christmas Carols, at McKenna’s holiday performance. She loved pulling the card and writing the date on the back! 

As the year goes on, I’ll be sharing updates both here and on Instagram with how we’re using the cards and tagging Minor Details CLE. We’d love for you to take part in the kindness with us, because after all, we’re all trying to raise happy, healthy, KIND humans! ❤

{Psssst: you can head to Insta and enter to win yourself a pack of cards! Go find the post with Kindness Cards and follow the easy, peasy instructions to enter}

This post was created in collaboration with Minor Details CLE. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own!

Fall Family Bucket List

Lists– you either love making them or hate it. If you’re a list-lover, YAY! You are my people. I live and die by my planner and to-do lists keep my forever-forgetful mom brain in line. If you’re a list-hater,  you’re in luck, because I am HAPPY to do it for you 😉 I am a sucker for creating traditions, so I present to you: The Kilbane Fall 2018 Bucket List! I decided to leave the name off (even though I’m a sucker for monogramming and personalization), that way you can download and print your own copy.

bucket list photo

Love it? Download Yours Here:

(sans any typos on my first copy, above!)

Fall 2018 Fam Bucket List



We Tried: Shutter Bugs Art & Photography Studio

If you know me in real life (or even if you simply follow me on social media), I’m sure you’ve noticed that we are NOT home bodies. I get super restless and the kids get… well, insane. And while some may beg to differ, there are only so many times you can hit up Target so many times in a week before you begin to feel a little ridiculous. Of course we do parks, playgrounds, and play dates like they’re going out of style, but it’s nice to switch it up every once in a while.

This weekend we ventured out a little farther than normal and decided to check out Shutter Bugs, a children’s art and photography studio in South Austin. While they host classes and camps for kiddos of all ages (4 all the way through teens), every Sunday from 9:00-1:00 they hold an open studio. We got there towards the end of the session and were lucky enough to have the whole place to ourselves!

We got to hang out with the owner, Jon, who showed us the ropes and led the kiddos through a ton of activities and mini-lessons. From painting using various techniques to still-life photography to making their own custom bookmarks– this place had them happy as could be.

The best part? Jon was SO patient with the kids and so welcoming to us as the parents. He taught McKenna how to hold a camera, how to line up her subject, and even how to adjust where she was standing to correct the lighting. She was so proud of herself! And as a parent, isn’t that the best?

Processed with VSCO with c3 presetProcessed with VSCO with c3 preset

If you’re in Austin, you NEED to head down to Shutter Bugs! While it’s a drive for us during the week, they do have Saturday classes and the Sunday open studio ($20). Wanna go with us?! Let’s make a day of it!

5 Reasons SXSW Recaptured My Heart

Long gone are the days of showing up on dirty 6th and aimlessly wandering, catching free shows and downing free beers for a week straight. And you know what? I’m totally fine with that– it sounds kind of exhausting! (good grief, I’m basically a grandma in a 29 year old’s body)

Serious throwback: Kyle and I at our first SXSW in 2012 (hence the awful image quality)

I had all but given up on taking part in any South by Southwest activities once my kiddos arrived on the scene. I can actually vividly recall being super judgey when talking about people bringing their little ones to SXSW activities. But admittedly, the longer I’m a parent, the more often I find myself eating my words. This year I took the plunge and decided that maybe exposing the kids to some new music and some SXSW might actually be good for everyone. With a little help from Do512 Family and Austin Moms Blog, I created us a bad-ass itinerary of kid-friendly morning/early afternoon events and hoped for the best.

The verdict: IT. WAS. AWESOME.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Free treats (including cold brew): I’ve upgraded my free (i.e. cheap) beers for cold brew, ice cream, and popsicles… and I’m not mad about it. We also had the chance to stop at local restaurants/coffee shops while we were downtown, which was an added bonus! Oh, and if it’s your thing, some of the kid-friendly events are BYOB, which is *sort of * like it being free.

  • Free swag: We accumulated quite a bit of swag from just a few events! I’m knee-deep in the middle of trying to purge useless junk, but the kids were lit up with joy like it was Christmas morning, so I’ll allow it (for a little while!). We collected free t-shirts, coozies, coloring books, stickers, big rubber balls, and frisbees!

  • Seriously good music: I whole-heartedly expected that the events specifically targeted to little ones would have the kind of obnoxious music that you suffer through because you love your kids. Y’all– the music was pretty dope. Every event had a mix of indie and folk singers (even an incredible Jazz band!) along with kid-specific musicians. If you’re interested in some of our favorites from the week, check out Red Yarn, Kyle Craft, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and Superfun Yeah Yeah Rocketship.

You Who Rock Show for Kids

  • Exposure to new experiences: Think about heading to any music festival and the types of people and situations you’ll see. Now, think about heading into downtown Austin and think about the types of people and situations you’ll see. Now COMBINE them! I really loved this opportunity to discuss diversity in all forms and everything from good manners to homelessness.

Just keepin’ it weird.

  • It forced me out of my comfort zone: Like I said in the beginning, for the past few years I avoided SXSW. The crowds, the parking, the loud music… it all seemed like a hassle with the littles. After exploring the city, navigating events vs. nap times, figuring out the perfect balance of just enough “stuff” to bring… I’m feeling damn good! Bring on the next event!

Do512 Family Picnic

Why you can and SHOULD take a kid-free vacation

The last kid-free vacation my husband I had was just about six years ago. {EDIT: We recently had a weekend getaway, but it was super short and sweet, and these transition tips helped immensely!} Seriously, we didn’t even really take a honeymoon (read: young and poor). And since our kiddos were born, we’ve never spent more than a night away from them. Partly because I’m a control freak who is mildly obsessed with routine, but mostly because my children are mildly obsessed with being suction-cupped to me 24/7.

However, when the opportunity to take a 4-day, kid-free vacation at an all-inclusive resort literally fell into our laps, we couldn’t pass it up. Don’t get me wrong, I was excited. Mega-excited. But, I was equally as excited as I was TERRIFIED to leave my little minis while we went gallivanting around without a care in the world. I’ll spare you the details (that’s what Facebook & Instagram are for) and fast forward: everything was beautiful, everyone survived, and in the process I learned a lot about myself, about my relationship, and about mom guilt.

{Big sigh} Why is the mom guilt SO real? Why do we feel this overwhelming sense of sadness after only a few short days (or hours) away from our children– or worse, at the THOUGHT of leaving them? Why are we made to feel like we’re being selfish for taking care of ourselves and our needs? Unfortunately, I don’t have some profound answer to all of these questions. We live in a society where we’re stuck in between “seriously, couldn’t you just find a sitter?” and “seriously, can’t you be away from them for one second?” It took me a full three days into our four day getaway to decide that taking a trip sans kiddos was not only acceptable, but TOTALLY worth it.

Proof that we did, indeed, getaway for a few days

Here’s why you should take a kid-free vacation:

  • You can NOT pour from an empty cup

    When you’re in the day to day shuffle, it can be hard to notice the little joys that make parenting special. Everything starts to feel like a chore. The three year old who insists on dressing herself, brushing her own hair, and putting on her own coat and shoes can be painfully frustrating… when really, her determination and persistence is quite admirable (plus, those fine motor skills are improving with every button!). Taking a step back can remind us how fleeting these moments are and help deepen our appreciation for the daily grind. When you take a kid-free vacay, you get time to clear your head and reprioritize.

  • You get to rekindle that magic with your significant other

    Let’s get serious. There’s something about getting dressed up fancy and enjoying a long and uninterrupted dinner that just makes you want to play footsy under the table. Just because you’re parents doesn’t mean you need to give up all the things that make you YOU. Before kids, there was just the two of you. And after kids, it will be just the two of you. It’s important to keep that spark!

  • Your children get to develop important coping skills

    Like I said in the beginning, my kids are more or less attached to me 24/7. While I absolutely adore this stage (aka where they still think that I’m cool and fun), there are many times when I get frustrated because they’re so dependent on me. I don’t mean dependent like “let me do that for you,” but more like “my mama is right next to me every.single.step of the way and I can’t do it without her approval, even though I totally can.” When I remove myself from that equation, they are forced to work on their independence. Win, win!

Tips for making the transition a success:

  1. Leave the kiddos with someone they’re comfortable with: staying with grandma and grampa is much more fun and enjoyable than with your cousin they’ve met twice. If you don’t have someone who they’re used to staying with, consider doing a test run before the real deal.
  2. Explain to your kids what’s happening ahead of time: I’ve always been one for as much open dialogue and honesty as possible with kiddos and this is no exception. Prep them for what’s ahead so it isn’t a shock.
  3. Gather all important documents and phone numbers in one, easily accessible place: doctor’s phone numbers, any necessary medical history, any necessary medications, a daily activity schedule (if that’s your jam), general tips on what helps your household function best.
  4. Check your phone company’s long distance plan (if applicable): Pretty sure this is self-explanatory.
  5. Plan some fun, quality time ASAP when you get back: While you may want to immediately unpack that suitcase or share photos when you get back, make sure that your little ones realize how much you missed them! 10-15 minutes of uninterrupted, focused attention can do wonders.

And voila! Treat yo self and enjoy that adult time, mama. You deserve it and you’ll be a better mama for it.

Have you taken a kid-free trip? Would you do it again? What would you do differently?

B-e-a-utiful place to make memories. DO IT for YOU!

{This article was originally featured here, on Austin Moms Blog, where Jess is a regular contributor}

Restaurants in the ‘Burbs with Playgrounds


It’s no secret that we go out to eat pretty often. For us, going out to eat is like a little mini-date when a real date isn’t an option (aka most of the time). Even if we’re going somewhere super simple, getting out of the house and changing up the routine is always exciting. Exciting… and sometimes stressful (#becausekids). We’ve taken to finding spots where the adults can have a nice dinner, chat, and relax while the kids can run wild, yell, and not be confined to a seat the entire time. Down in Austin, these places seem to be everywhere you look (yay for Austin!), but up here in the ‘burbs, they’re a little harder to come by. Lucky for you, I’ve compiled a few of our favorite spots for both adults and littles.

The criteria:

  • Delicious food (I mean, DUH. If I wanted just anywhere with a playground I could go to McDonald’s)
  • Relaxed vibe
  • Has playscape/playground
  • Serves booze

Our favorites, in no particular order:

Santa Catarina

What a hidden gem this is! Fully-fenced playground area is separate from the dining tables, but they’re back to back, so you can keep an eye on the kiddos. Great spot for those who are a little bit more independent and can handle being on their own to play. The tacos cochinita were PHENOMENAL (pulled pork for all my Ohio friends) and the margaritas are pretty darn delicious. Definitely headed back here soon.

Any of the Hat Creek Burger Locations

We looooove Hat Creek! I mean, so much so that I wrote a whole review for Austin Mom’s Blog (check it out here). With three locations near us that all have unique playscapes, it’s always a hit. Burgers, chicken, shakes, and booze. Winner! The Georgetown location has a ton of space to explore and climb and the Round Rock location has great little man-made turf hills for the kids to run up and down. Check out all three! Our current favorite location is the newest one, the Rock Rose Domain location. Maybe that’s just because I love to do a little shopping while I digest, but that’s beside the point. The vintage-inspired airstream turned play place is adorable and fun. Check out all three locations!


Phil’s Ice House/Amy’s Ice Cream on 183

On a burger kick here, but this one includes ice cream, so it’s different 😉 An ice cream shop that’s CONNECTED to a burger joint that has a PLAYGROUND?! Yup. That’s the real deal. Phil’s has tons of indoor seating, but also outdoor seating that’s right up close to the playscape. That’s ideal for kiddos like mine who need a constant eye on them. I’m a sucker for fresh bread (the buns are something special, y’all), crunchy chicken tenders, and a mean sweet potato fry. Phil’s checks all of those boxes. Current menu fav: the 78704 burger (Monterey jack cheese, jalapenos, grilled onions, avocado, and chipotle mayo on a jalapeno cheese bun).


Salt Lick Round Rock

So if you’re in the market for BBQ, look no further than Salt Lick’s Round Rock location. Same great BBQ, but waaayyyy less of a drive! If you haven’t heard of Salt Lick (seriously… if you live here and haven’t heard of Salt Lick all I can say is “WHAT???!”, but anyway), you really need to head down to Driftwood and eat at the original location. Seriously gorgeous land and Hill Country views with indoor and outdoor dining space. While the Round Rock location isn’t BYOB (lame), there IS a playscape outside to entertain the littles, so we cut them some slack. They also take credit cards, while the Driftwood location is cash only, so pros and cons, people.

Lone Star Grille

Full disclosure, we haven’t actually been here yet, BUT it’s on my list of places to try. I’ve heard great things about the Lone Star Grille in Cedar Park. The menu looks phenomenal, touting “home style cooking” in a sports bar atmosphere. They have a giant playground space (two playscapes) with an outdoor stage and amphitheater for live music, which sounds right up our alley. The photos look shaded and woody, which sounds great for hot summer days. Have you been? I’d love to hear some reviews!

lonestar grille

What’s your go-to spot for pleasing the whole family?