9 Easy Ways to Save Money Right Now

It’s that time of year again when those once-a-year bills come in {like HOA dues and the like}, Holiday shopping begins, and extra expenses {big family meals, stamps for Christmas cards, etc.} pile up.  Everyone is looking for ways to save money.  Personally, Dave and I are in the final week of our Fall session of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.  We teach the class twice a year, and this year we have begun to issue a challenge to our class each week…a small way to save a few bucks.  In addition, my Small Group has been doing Jen Hatmaker’s Bible Study, Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.  This week’s focus is on spending.  With all of this going on, I thought today would be the perfect time to share some of our ideas on how to save a bit of money.

Obviously, there are bigger and better ways to get more money this holiday season.  Whether it’s working extra hours, getting a side job, or selling the kids on Craig’s List…there are some drastic measures that are sure to work.  But what about the little stuff?  As they say, those pennies add up!

Here’s my list of 9 easy ways to save money right now:

9 Easy Ways to Save Money Today from Palmettos and Pigtails

-Don’t go grocery shopping this week…see how creative you can get with the items in your pantry and fridge.  And while you are in there, clean it up and organize it a little!  And while you are cleaning out your freezer, take an inventory of the food that’s in there with my handy Freezer Inventory List!

-Put a full water bottle in the back of all of your toilet tanks to displace the water in the tank, use less water, and save on your water bill.

-Save any $1 bills with significant letters on them {We save J’s, A’s and L’s in honor of our kids’ names}.

A great tradition and a way to save money: collect dollar bills with the letters of your kids' names on them

-Unplug electronics and appliances when not in use.  Big culprits in our house are laptops, the coffeepot and cell phone chargers.

-When paying for items, don’t use exact change….round up to the nearest dollar.  Save the change you get back, and each night empty your change into a jar…those coins add up quickly!

-Only drink water…no buying drinks or coffees at the store or restaurants.  You’ll save between $2-$5 for EACH DRINK!  {so put aside those $$$ you would have spent on the drink…and watch it add up fast!}

-Pay CASH instead of using a card….it’s a lot more painful to see those precious dollar bills disappear, than using that “magical” card.

-Establish a Swear Jar or a Manners Jar….each infraction costs a dollar out of one’s personal blow money.

-Get organized with your meals.  Use a weekly meal planner and Southern Savers to plan out meals and create a grocery list based on  your grocery store’s weekly specials.  Only buy what is on your grocery list.  My family of five usually spends about $80 a week on groceries.  That’s it!

Hope this simple list helps save you some cash TODAY!  Need a couple more ideas?  Check out this list of stuff you can sign up to do to get paid.

Got any others?  Leave a comment with how YOU save money during the holidays!

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{House Manager} Holiday Planning Guide with Printables

Every year it’s amazing to me how early Christmas arrives in stores.  This year, it was Kohl’s that won, with Christmas arriving in their store the first week of October.  Crazy.  We don’t do a ton of decorating or gifts for Christmas, so shopping each year is relatively stress-free for me.  When Santa comes, he brings one “big gift” per child, and then a few little things for their stockings.  So far, Dave and I have managed to avoid buying the kids anything “from us”….they haven’t noticed they didn’t get a gift from Mom or Dad.  And as for gifts for immediate family…we do homemade gifts from the kids and then school/family pictures to frame.  There are about a million cousins, and we’ve never exchanged more than Christmas cards with them.  So shopping is pretty easy, and all about the kids.

As for entertaining….different story.

So, so stressful.  But you know, in a good stressful way.  As in, I-wouldn’t-have-it-any-other-way.  I LOVE entertaining.  I love that we made the executive decision that {since we made the grandkids} everyone can come to us for the holidays.  Not to mention our Christmas Eve Brunch that we do for the neighbors each year.  But, the joy of entertaining also means the stress of cleaning, cooking and planning.

Holiday tradition of footy pajamas on Christmas Eve!  Palmettos and Pigtails

Last year, I finally got smart and wrote everything down.  I basically make the same food every year, but I always struggle to remember what I make, and fumble to find the recipes.  So last year I got organized.  And I made a bunch of documents that will go straight into our House Manager Binder.  Although, with the amount of entertaining we do, it may need it’s own binder soon!

Holiday Planning Guide with Free Printables to Keep Your Holiday Organized!  Palmettos and Pigtails

****Disclaimer****

Because I’m making this for my own personal use, I’m gonna give you access to the files.  However, you won’t be able to edit them.  But feel free to print them out and use them for yourself!  I got all the little buttons as free downloads from the digital scrapbooking site, Shabby Princess.  And I got the fonts (Pea Carol) from Kevin & Amanda…also free.  So technically, you can make your own version of these as well!  And if you decide to pin any of these images, please remember link them back to this page!! Thanks!

I’m telling you, there are a lot of printables in this file, but it’s really everything you need for planning your whole Christmas week.  Here’s a sneak peek of the Table of Contents.  See below for the links to each document.

Holiday Planning Guide from Palmettos and Pigtails: Free printables to keep you organized!

Click on each link to get to the Google Drive Document.  You’ll be able to download, but not edit.  You’ll see some items have two pages…they are the same document, but with different graphics in case you want to print two different sets!

Holiday Planning Guide Cover Page

Holiday Planning Guide Cover Page AND Table of Contents

December Calendar

Gift Planner

Christmas Card List

Party Planner 1

Party Planner 2

Holiday Baking Recipes, Page 1

Holiday Baking Recipes, Page 2

Event Planner

Christmas Eve Meal Planning

Christmas Day Meal Planning

Christmas Eve Shopping List

Christmas Day Shopping List

Meal Recipe Cards, Page 1

Meal Recipe Cards, Page 2

Thank You Note List

I’d love your feedback on this guide…did I miss anything?  What was the most helpful page for you?  Happy Planning!

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A Minted Christmas Card – A Vote

We are a week and a half out from Lincoln’s Baptism Celebration….and then four days later, Thanksgiving.  And then the Christmas Season.  Because around here, it truly is its own season.  Every weekend we have a party or event to go to.  School days are filled with Christmas crafts, Operation Christmas Child, and Nativity programs.  And my evenings are spent planning, sewing and shopping.  Y’all, where does the time go in December?

But, it’s not December. Yet.  So as far as I am concerned, I’m ahead of the game.  For now.  This week, I’m starting to think about Christmas cards.  Those beautiful little reminders of how blessed we all are.

Blog Christmas Card

This was my homemade Christmas card from 2012.  This year, I’m teaming up with Minted.com to share their 2014 Christmas Card line.  They are giving me a chance to try some of their gorgeous Christmas cards to send out this year….but I’m having a hard time deciding!!!

That’s where you come in.  I need your help!  I’ve chosen a few of my favorite styles {it’s super easy to Pin and to Favorite each card you like on their website}, and was wondering if you can weigh in with your pick.  Leave me a comment with which one you like best!

Choice #1: Year in a Nutshell

Year in a Nutshell Photo Card from Minted.com

It’s a little more modern than I typically do, but I love that you can add your “stats” and highlights too!

Choice #2: Love Tree

Love Tree Christmas Card from Minted.com

Choice #3: Very Merry Flourish

Very Merry Flourish Christmas Card by Minted.com

I like that the shape is different and pretty….but it’ll be hard for me to find a vertical picture of our family that I like!

Choice #4: Bright Days

Bright Days Christmas Card by Minted.com

So here’s a compromise that is pretty and horizontal!

Choice #5: Heart, Halo, Hooray!

Heart, Halo, Hooray! Christmas Card by Minted.com

Keep in mind that if you click on the link in each card’s name, you can play around with the color of the lettering and the cut style of the card.

Which one do you think I should choose?

Check out this week’s awesome deals: 15% off Holiday cards and 20% off Foil-pressed cards.  Click here for details.

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The Seven Experiment: Media Blackout

I’m back!!! Did you miss me?  Probably not.  And no offense, but I didn’t really miss you either!  It’s hard to believe that we had virtually NO media exposure over the last week.  Our media blackout included TV, Radio/Music, Phone {except for relational calls and informational texts}, Computer, Internet, Social Media, and Electronic Games and Apps.  Seven things that have become idols in our house, taking up our time, energy and attention to the detriment of our relationships with others.

So it was all gone last week.  Cold turkey.  And guess what?  It wasn’t that bad.  I got zero complaints from the kids.  They blindly accepted the new “rule” when we broke the news to them.  Dave and I struggled a little with temptations {ahem, Facebook}, but we gave ourselves a B+ overall.

I even cheated a little on Day One, when I realized I had never completed an Amazon order for some craft fair items that I needed for this past weekend.  Jayna busted me getting out the computer, and insisted that she sit next to me and watch to “make sure I didn’t go on Facebook.” Man, talk about commitment from that kid!

But overall, it wasn’t as hard as I thought.  The house was quieter, we talked to each other more.  The kids played, rather than whining about TV or music selections.  Jayna even had a weeklong mystery when a bracelet of hers was missing.  She carried a notebook around writing down clues {like green dots and pizza crumbs} and gathering her suspects.  I’m not sure if the bracelet was ever found, but she had a blast sneaking around and solving the mystery!

The list of suspects is long in the Case of the Missing Bracelet!

The hardest thing for me was not watching TV while I folded laundry, and not scanning Facebook or Pinterest while sitting in the car-rider line at school or at the craft show this past weekend.  But other than that, totally fine!

I’d like to say we’ll keep it up.  But already we’ve gone back to our ways of having a TV on regularly {even if no one is watching it!}.  And I feel like since the week was over, I’ve had to spend DOUBLE time on the computer, just catching up from last week.  So I can’t say that too much has changed.  But I will say that we will be more mindful of our phones.  It was so nice last week {when all of my notifications were turned off}, not having to check my phone every time there was a little chime.  It was nice spending time with Dave, without Sportscenter being in the middle of our conversation.  So I think I’m going to leave my social media notifications turned off, and work on only browsing Facebook or Pinterest when I’m alone.

What do you do to cut back on media time?

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Why I’m Quitting Social Media

Don’t panic.  It’s actually only for this week.  In a nutshell, I’m in a Small Group studying Jen Hatmaker’s Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.  And each week we give up some type of excess in our lives.  This week is media.

So I am radio silent {no, I’m not cheating right now, because I actually wrote this last week and just scheduled it for today}.  I’ve given up:

1. Television

2. Radio/Music

3. Internet

4. Computer

5. Social Media

6. Phone {except for informational calls and texts…no social chatting!}

7. Electronic Games and Apps

So, if you need me…I’ll be back in a week.  In the meantime, I’ll be spending the week with my family and friends.  Facetiming….literally.

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The Seven Experiment: An Update on my Mutiny Against Excess

Well friends, I’m about to start week four of Jen Hatmaker’s Bible Study, Seven.  I can sum up my experience of the Seven Experiment so far in one word: Fail.

Let me back up.  So, Week One was about Food.  Some of the challenge ideas in the book were:

to clean out 7 items from your pantry a day
only eat 7 foods for the entire week
cut out 7 staples or extravagant foods from your diet for a week
only eating organic/clean/local for the week

You know how I spent the week?  Traveling.  Eating out at both fast food and nice restaurants as I headed up north with the kiddos {by myself!} for part of the week, and then coming home to turn around and head for Alabama for a weekend getaway with Dave.  I pretty much ate the entire week.  Not to say that I didn’t think about the study, or sacrifice, or hungry children in Africa.  My word for the week was GUILT.  And I struggled with my intentions and the legalities of the study….promising myself and God that I would “double-up” the following week since my travel week wasn’t convenient to limit food.  Needless to say, I still haven’t “doubled-up.”

So, fail.

Week Two was about clothes.  Here were some of the challenge ideas:

Wear the same seven articles of clothing for the entire week {undergarments not counting!}
Wear only handmade clothes for the entire week
Give away seven items of clothing/accessories each day for a week
Create a pile/section of your closet for all the items you wear during the week, in order to get a visual for the percentage of items you actually use versus own.

So my word for this week should have been UNINTENTIONAL.  The first part of the week, I was still traveling.  I had only seven items with my on my trip {thanks to the carry-on bag rule!}, but it was purely coincidental, and I wasn’t thinking about the items at all when I was packing.  And when I got home, halfway through the week, I was so focused on getting back to my kids, and routine, that I forgot.  Simply forgot.  I had read my chapter on the plane {usually I don’t have time to read, so I’ll read a page of our study here and there throughout the week….which helps me stay on track}, so I literally did not pick up the book again until it was time to head to Small Group.  And then I realized that I hadn’t worn those same clothes the rest of the week.  I hadn’t even thought about the study or challenge at all.

Fail.

Week Three: Possessions.  I have done much better this week.  I’ve been more purposeful, and trying to stick to the plan with a cheerful heart.  Honestly, I was excited for this week especially…eager to start the cleanse: my life, my heart and my closets!  But then reality kind of set in.  It started when I was reading the chapter in Seven.  And my stomach got caught in my throat.  In the book, Jen and her husband had visited a church whose speaker encouraged the parishioners to leave the shoes they were wearing at the alter when the came up for communion.  And so Jen and her husband left their brand new fancy boots at the front and walked out into the cold in bare feet.  And she admits that her feet were freezing and uncomfortable walking on the gravel for the five minutes it took to get to her warm car.  Imagine your feet feeling that way all. the. time.

And then I thought about the PILE of shoes at the bottom of my closet.  Not to mention the PILE of shoes on the shelf in my bathroom {overflow parking!}.  And like Jen, my favorite pair out of them all are my cowboy boots.  I wear them all the time.  I got them on our family vacation to Gaitlinburg, Tennessee three year ago, just before our tiny family of three became four {and now five!}.  To me, those boots are not only comfy and cute {and maybe a bit stinky since I hate wearing socks with them!!}, but they symbolize family, simplicity and happiness to me.  They make me taller, and somehow more confident….and dangit, they look good with just about anything I wear!  I could not imagine not having them as a staple in my wardrobe.  How could Jen sacrifice hers?

So my word this past week should have been SACRIFICE.  Which, admittedly, I did very little of.  Sure, I cleaned out closets.  I have a huge bag of coats, scarves, mittens and hats waiting to go to the shelter.  I have another pile of towels and rags ready for the SPCA.  I’ve gone through toys and books and kids clothes to pull some essentials out for a little girl I know that has nothing.  I’ve asked around for ideas of families or people that may be in need {if you know of any, shoot me an email!}.  Knowing that about 10 of us in my group are all purging this week, we should have plenty of items that are looking for homes.  But nothing I donated made me uncomfortable.

And I found that even though I still couldn’t part with those beloved boots, I was able to create a pile of 16 pairs of other shoes to donate.  It’s a start. And I found that the more “piles” I created, the more eager I became to find more.  The less discriminating I became about what could go.

A little less of a Fail.

This week, the topic is Media.  And I plan on diving in headfirst.  I think I even have Dave on board.  And the kids…they just don’t know it yet.  So I am ready to unplug the TV, turn off all notifications on my phone {I’ll only be using it to speak to someone or for quick, informational texts…no social banter or emojies for me this week!}, and shut the computer down!  I debated the last one, as my smallish blog does have advertisers and deadlines to deal with.  But I have decided to shut down the blog for a week, schedule the few tweets/FB posts/etc. that I’m required to do for my sponsors, and focus on life for once {without posting to Instagram first!}.  So.  I won’t be checking email, posting on social media or blogging.  Radio Silence.

Wish me luck, and I’ll see you next week!

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DIY Halloween Costumes 2014

Happy November!  Did y’all get this month’s Cleaning Calendar?  I know it’s been a whirlwind of a weekend with Halloween falling on Friday this year.  My girls begged and pleaded to be Ana and Elsa this year {along with all of the other little girls in America}, but  I played Mean Mommy and nixed the idea immediately.  Not that there is anything wrong with the Frozen chicks, but I favor more creative Halloween renderings, and as far as I was concerned…it was a safety issue to keep up with my girls in a sea of Elsa.

DIY Halloween Costumes for kids:  In 30 minutes or less! from Palmettos and Pigtails

So instead, I pulled up a bunch of DIY costumes on Pinterest and let them choose their own.  Millie was easy, and chose Cotton Candy.  Jayna, on the other hand, chose A Needle and Thread.  Don’t get me wrong, a super cute costume.  But I know my limits, and that was not going to turn out cute at all.  Luckily, when we were up in Maryland a couple of weeks ago, Betsy was able to convince Jayna to be Red Riding Hood.  And she was perfectly content to wear one of her school outfits and the cape.                Costume Number One: Done.

DIY Halloween Costumes for kids:  In 30 minutes or less! from Palmettos and Pigtails

Millie’s costume was super easy.  I used a pillowcase as a base, cutting a wide neck hole and armholes.  I sewed around the neck hole and inserted a ribbon, which would serve as a drawstring on the finished costume.  I did the same at the bottom of the pillowcase.  If I were to make this costume again, I’d use elastic and sew it in completely…the ribbon was hard to find, tie, and untie amongst the fluff.  I spray painted a bunch of pillow fluff pink and let it dry completely.  Then I used hot glue to adhere it to the pillowcase, and to a rolled up piece of poster board for the cone.  I used A. Lot. of hot glue. Millie wore the costume to school first, and almost all the cotton got pulled off by other kids, or snagged.  Luckily, I had more cotton, and secured it better after she got home.

DIY Halloween Costumes for kids:  In 30 minutes or less! from Palmettos and Pigtails

Although Millie picked out her costume, she was less than thrilled to wear it, once it was finished.  But after Mean Mommy made her put it on at school, and she had about 30 people tell her how cute she was….she changed her attitude, and was silly Millie once again.

DIY Halloween Costumes for kids:  In 30 minutes or less! from Palmettos and Pigtails

DIY Halloween Costumes for kids:  In 30 minutes or less! from Palmettos and Pigtails

Lincoln’s costume was a bit of an afterthought.  I had seen the Popcorn costume on Pinterest, but it was to use on a Front Carrier…and I was NOT about to lug 16lb Lincoln around in a front pack for two hours.  No, I needed something that would make the stroller part of his costume.  And it was going to be cold.

So I piggybacked off of the Popcorn costume, glued some popcorn to an infant hat, and bought some cheap felt.  I cut the white felt into a rectangle that would be wide enough to drape over the front and sides of the stroller.  I measured the width of the front of the stroller {the part that would cover the baby}, and sewed two seams so that the felt would drape {and stay} over the sides of the stroller.  Then I cut the red felt into 1 inch wide stripes and cut out the letters for POPCORN.  Then I hot glued the stripes onto the white felt, cutting the ones in the middle so that POPCORN would show up clearly.  Then I cut the top of the “popcorn box” into zigzags.  I was able to bundle the baby up and the felt covered up his outfit and blanket, and even his toys!

DIY Halloween Costumes for kids:  In 30 minutes or less! from Palmettos and Pigtails

Such cute costumes, and so easy to make!  Add an Olaf and The Flash, and we were ready for some Trick or Treating!

DIY Halloween Costumes for kids:  In 30 minutes or less! from Palmettos and Pigtails

Happy Halloween!

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November 2014 Cleaning Calendar

Whelp. Another month bites the dust.  Welcome to November!  Another crazy busy month for us, as we have LOTS of visitors coming in, and we’ll be baptizing Lincoln later in the month.  I’m also knee-deep into my small group’s study of Jen Hatmaker’s Seven…so I’ll be filling you in on our journey with that.

But for today, I’ll just be enjoying my kids and having some fun trick-or-treating in our neighborhood with friends.  Don’t worry, I’ll share some pictures next week…I’ve been super busy making the kids’ costumes again this year, so I’m eager to show them off!

Here’s November’s Cleaning Calendar.  Happy Cleaning!

November Cleaning Calendar-Simple Tasks you can do in 15 minutes or less to clean  your home!  From Palmettos and Pigtails

Don’t forget you can click on the picture above or on this link to download and print your own copy.  And I’d be tickled pink if you’d share this post or the calendar!

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DIY Fabric Pumpkins

Where, oh where has my October gone?!?!  Y’all, we have been so busy!  Between the normal holiday craziness, and several impromptu trips, I am feeling very scattered!  And addition to all of that, I just signed on for TWO big craft fairs in November.  Yes, the same November that is 4 days away.  What the heck am I thinking?!?!

So, bear with me as I attempt to find time to tell you all about our travels, edit photos, carve pumpkins, make Halloween costumes, and prepare for craft shows {with some new items in the inventory!!}.  Hang with me these next few weeks, because it’s gonna get good!

This morning, I have a super quick tutorial that I’ve been dying to share with you.  I stumbled across these DIY Fabric Pumpkins on Pinterest a while back, and have just now gotten around to making them.  And let me tell you, once I picked out the fabric and realized how easy they were to make….I couldn’t stop!  Even Jayna made a couple!

DIY Fabric Pumpkins - A Quick and Easy Project from Palmettos and Pigtails

Like I said, I found the tutorial over on My Blessed Life.  She’s got dimensions for the fabric and a terrific step-by-step process with pictures.  Her pumpkins are also much cuter than mine {she added ruffles and leaves}…maybe I’ll go back and embellish mine later.  But for now, I’m focused on ease and speed.

For each pumpkin, you are going to need a rectangular piece of fabric, some batting, a couple of big glass beads or rocks, a stem, and possibly some twine or string if you want ribbing.  As for the fabric sizing, the closer your rectangle is to a square, the “rounder” your pumpkin will be {like the big orange or the small multi-color chevron above}.  If your rectangle is long and skinny, your pumpkin will either turn out fat and kinda flat {like the black checked or the orange dotted}, or tall and skinny {like either of the yellow}.

DIY Fabric Pumpkins - A Quick and Easy Project from Palmettos and Pigtails

The very first pumpkin I made, I had a long skinny piece rectangular piece of fabric.  I sewed the long sides together to create a long tube {right sides together!}, then I turned it right side out and hand-stitched a gather along the bottom of the pumpkin, pulling the ends of the thread {I used embroidery thread for durability} together and tying, in order to “close” the bottom of the pumpkin.  Then I filled it with batting and a couple of rocks at the very bottom {just to weigh it down a bit}.  I then hand stitched another gathering stitch around the top and pulled the strings to “close” the top of the pumpkin.  I wrapped string around the pumpkin, top to bottom, to attempt to make the ribbing on the pumpkin.  And lastly, I hot glued a branch for the stem.

Fail.

My fabric had been too tall and skinny, and so everything was just off.  He kept falling over, and his ribbing wouldn’t stay put.  He’s lucky he made it into my photo shoot at all!  My second attempt was another tall and skinny pumpkin {the other yellow one}, but I made it slightly wider, and it turned out a little better.

DIY Fabric Pumpkins - A Quick and Easy Project from Palmettos and Pigtails

Then I cut a few more tall and skinny rectangles, but this time I stitched them closed along the shorter sides, which created short, squatty, flat pumpkins.

DIY Fabric Pumpkins - A Quick and Easy Project from Palmettos and Pigtails

So much cuter!  I think these ended up being my favorite!  I used a long quilting needle and embroidery floss to sew up and down through the middle of the pumpkin, to create a tufted look.  On the My Blessed Life site, she said to use plastic bags to stuff inside the pumpkins.  I tried that {in the spirit of recycling}, but found they were very noisy, and hard to “sew” through in order to do the tufting.  So I stuck to the batting and rocks {which are easily navigated}.

DIY Fabric Pumpkins - A Quick and Easy Project from Palmettos and Pigtails

Finally, I tried a couple of “square” pumpkins, with my fabric being just about square in dimensions.  So cute!  Although I did notice that the size of the stem needed to match the size of the pumpkin.  I had used the same branch for all of my pumpkins, except for the “Baby Round.”

DIY Fabric Pumpkins - A Quick and Easy Project from Palmettos and Pigtails

She turned out very cute, since her stem was more perportionate to her body.  Next time I think I will use a variety of sticks for the pumpkins.  But overall, I was very pleased!  The whole “patch” took me about a half an hour to fumble through, and Jayna helped too!

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I See Me! – Farm Friends

*I received the products mentioned in this blog post for free in exchange for a review on my blog.  As always, all opinions are 100% honest and my own!*

Whelp, Lincoln is five months old now.  I can’t believe how quickly time is flying with him.  He has such a little personality now!  He is a super laid back kid.  He really only cries if he’s hungry or over-tired.  The rest of the time he is smiling, belly laughing and squealing!  Here’s a quick video I caught last week:

He is finally loving “tummy time,” now that he can push himself all the way up, and manipulate toys with one hand as he holds himself up.  Most of the time his little legs are going too {even though his big Buddah belly is still firmly on the ground….he’s not going anywhere!}!  Mirrors are a big motivator for tummy time.  Although I don’t think he recognizes his own reflection yet, he sure does like checking out that cute baby in the mirror.

Recently, I was sent a personalized children’s book for Lincoln from I See Me! books.  And just because they are awesome, they threw in a personalized placemat as well.  Now, Lincoln is not quite ready to be at the table yet, so I used the placemat to help out with tummy time.  Propped up against the mirror he loves so much, Lincoln was happy to push himself up to stare at the handsome farmer and his animals!

And next month, when we start introducing baby food and his is up at the table, we’ll be able to use the placemat in a more traditional way.  It’s really big and easy to wipe off, so it’ll be great to catch all of those drips and crumbs that come with first foods.

Lincoln is really getting interested in books now.  He likes to help turn the pages, and will often “pat” pictures of animals.  So when we got a copy of I See Me!’s new book, Farm Friends, complete with farm animals and pictures of Lincoln, we were eager to read it together!

At first, I thought the giant Lincoln face on each page was silly.  But then I realized that it was the perfect size for Lincoln to see, and in the coming months when he starts recognizing his photo, he’ll enjoy it even more!  The book was perfect for even his little hands, with a sturdy cover and pages that will withstand some wear and tear from him as a toddler too.

Lincoln and DadAnd the book is just adorable!  From a Mom perspective, I love how “Farmer Lincoln’s” face is on every page, in addition to his name spelled out or written at least once on each page.  I’m not sure if you can see it below, but his name is spelled out {in subtle humor} on both his argyle sweater, and on the sweaters that each of the sheep in the field are wearing!

And the former teacher in me loves the many talking and teaching opportunities on each page, from counting, to letter identification, to animals and their sounds, and colors.  When  Millie reads it, she loves pointing out all of the silly things on each page.  {Chickens wearing glasses!?!?!?}

And since just about anything will make Lincoln laugh these days, exaggerated animal sounds coming from Mommy and Daddy are just what are needed to entice a few belly laughs from the baby!

 I See Me! books have a ton of personalized stories, including:

The Super, Incredible Big Sister

I Can Change the World

My Very Own Pirate Tale

I’m a Big Boy Now!

I’m also loving their personalized puzzles {and lunch boxes, growth charts, etc.}, for older kids.

I See Me! Books has a great selection of other unique personalized children's gifts, such as puzzles, lunch boxes, stickers, etc. #iseemebooksAnd right now {just in time to order for Christmas!}, they have a bunch of promotions and giveaways going on!  You can enter to win a free book and a Pottery Barn Giftcard, or “like” them on Facebook to receive 15% off.  Or you can join their e-mailing list to get the newest promotions.

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