Sunday Scripture: Not my Will

Because sometimes my plans just aren’t supposed to work out.  Have faith…
Sunday Scripture: Not my will, but Yours

Today’s Sunday Scripture photo is courtesy of Table for One Ministries…a site for Christian singles of all sorts!

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How to Survive Restaurants with Kids

I am no Julia Child, but I actually enjoy cooking.  Especially if I have a plan and a little time to prep.  But some nights, a home-cooked meal is just not in the cards. I have a few friends that avoid going out to dinner with their kids at all costs.  And we’ve all seen “those” families in restaurants that disrupt everyone else’s meal by allowing their kids to be noisy and out of control.  I try my very best to be somewhere in between.  I actually enjoy taking my kids out to eat.  But let me tell you, we started early on our “restaurant manners!”  So I thought I’d share some of my tips for going out to restaurants with kids.

Free Printable Activity Sheet for Kids in Restaurants - Palmettos and Pigtails

1. Start early.  I literally went out to eat with Jayna when she was three days old.  Obviously, it’s easy to take a newborn who sleeps the whole time to a restaurant.  But we continue to take her {and the rest of ’em} out on a regular basis.  We also eat as a family at home, and expect good manners there.  So we teach our kids from a young age how to act at the dinner table – regardless if it’s in your kitchen or in a restaurant.

Some of our Table Manners include:

  • praying before we eat,
  • putting {and keeping} away all electronic devices,
  • taking appropriate sized bites,
  • chewing with our mouths closed,
  • not talking with food in our mouths,
  • staying at the table for the entire meal,
  • using low voices and waiting our turn to talk,
  • keeping feet under the table and bums in the chair,
  • using napkins and silverware appropriately,
  • taking at least one “Thank You Bite” of everything that is served to us,
  • remaining seated until everyone is finished eating,
  • asking to be excused at the end of the meal,
  • taking our dishes to the sink

All of these rules are simultaneously taught to our kids {and modeled by the adults} from birth.  As far as I’m concerned, these same “rules” apply to restaurants as well.

2. Model “Table Manners” at home, consistently.  Like I said before, modeling and consistency is key.  We make sure that our phones are put up and the TV is off before meals, to model the “no technology” expectation…it won’t be a surprise when they are actually old enough to have their own phones!  But believe it or not, the hardest one for us to model is “no talking with food in your mouth.”  You’d think that would be a no brainer, but once I started correcting the girls on it, I noticed I was constantly doing it too {I’m just a little more discrete…}.

3. Practice at home first, and make your expectations clear.  I found a couple of little games on Pinterest that get the whole family in the spirit of “minding” their manners.  The first one is a game where the offenders get a popsicle stick each time they are “caught” having bad manners.  The winner is whoever has the least amount of popsicle sticks at the end of the meal.  The second one is along the same lines, but only has one “thing” to be handed out.  For example, a toy pig is given to the person who has bad manners, but then passed to someone else who is “caught.”  Whoever has the pig at the end of the game loses {or has to do the dishes!}.

4.  When you do venture out with the kids to a restaurant, set them up for success.  Choose a restaurant with food options that appeal to them.  A lot of those same restaurants have programs where kids eat free with a paying adult…so check what day it is on Out to Eat with Kids!  Be mindful of possible wait times if it is a popular place.  Go at dinnertime, or before your kids are starving.  Choose a place that is kid-friendly: moderate noise level, children’s menus, appetizers that can hold them over.  One of my kids’ favorite places to go is Logan’s.  It’s noisy in there, there are kids’ menus to occupy their wait time, buckets of peanuts on the table {and they are encouraged to throw their shells on the ground!}.

5.  Keep some small things in your purse or diaper bag to pass the time.  I collect kids’ meal toys from Chick-fila and other places that often have small books or interactive games.  Currently, I have a couple of “Doodle Books” from Chick-fila.  I also keep a Mad Libs Book, which is interactive for the whole family.  And because I have little ones, there is usually a couple of animals at the bottom of my bag too.  Above all else, make sure you have a couple of pens….you can always play tic-tac-toe or hangman on a napkin!

Activity Ideas for Kids in Restaurants - Palmettos and Pigtails

Recently, we’ve been to a couple of restaurants that didn’t have interactive kids’ menus.  Fail.  So I decided to kind of make my own to keep as back-up.  I just fold them up and stick them in the diaper bag.  Again…make sure you have pens!  Click here, or on the picture to download and print your own copies of it!

Free Printable Activity Sheet for Kids in Restaurants - Palmettos and Pigtails

Where are your favorite places to take your kids out to eat?

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*Palmettos and Pigtails is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

As always, all opinions in the post are 100% my own.*

Sunday Scripture: Beauty

After spending the week with 6 of my favorite girls, today’s Sunday Scripture is in honor of them.  A Bible verse that hopefully will resound in both of our girlie houses as they grow!

Thanks to the Educated Owl over on Etsy for today’s Sunday Scripture print.

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{From the Archives} Disney World Countdown Chain

Well, we are at it again!  We are headed back to Disney at the end of the summer for another week of family fun.  Today, Jayna and I made our Disney World Countdown Chain for us to keep track of how many days left until our trip.  We made it just like last time, but added a few new Countdown Activities to our bucket this time.  Stay tuned and I’ll tell you all about them.

But for today, I thought I’d revisit how we made the countdown chain two years ago when we went to Disney.  It’s amazing to look at the pictures and see how young Jayna looks!!!

Disney Countdown Chain

You might say there is a little Disney excitement going on inside our house lately.  And the kids are excited too! But, I finally grew tired of the “Is it  Disney World Day yet Mommy?” {Plus, I kind of wanted to know how many days left too!}.  And we all know that kids {and I} learn better with visual aides.  So I scoured my Disney Pinterest Board for ideas.By far, my favorite was the Disney World Countdown Chain by Get Away Today. Plus, it allowed me to control how many links were included {which was key since we had over 90 days left until D-Day}.  Several of the other countdown ideas were only for the last month.  Jayna and I had a great time making it too.  We did it in several parts….spreading out the “Disney Project” over several days.  Lately she is all about projects and having some quality {no-Millie} time with Mama.  I let her cut out the circles and 2 in ch strips.  Then we used glue sticks to add white hole-punched dots to the red strips to make them look like Mickey’s pants.Then DAYS later {when Jayna needed some more Mama time}, we connected the chains.  Jayna worked on her patterning skills while I attached the chains with tape.Because we kept spreading out this project, I had to keep modifying the number of chains used….we waited another couple of days to finish the project with a cute topper {with fun, sparkly scrapbooking stickers and paper}, and hang it up in our dining room.  I kind of underestimated how long the chain would be!To add to the excitement, on the white strips, I drew a little Mickey…and every time Jayna cuts a white strip, she gets to choose a fun-filled Disney Stick from our Bucket o’ Fun Disney ActivitiesMore Jayna and Mama time later that day with a special Disney activity!


I’m linkin’ up!

Check out my other Disney-related posts and plenty more to come!!

Overnight Oats Recipe

Once again, I’m participating in my bootcamp class’ Summer Transformation Challenge.  Last time, I lost 30lbs and won the entire contest with weight loss and strength improvement.  Huge win, literally, not to mention a great boost to my self esteem!  Well, after missing a bunch of classes and getting lazy about what I put in my body, I’m up another 6lbs…Time to get rid of it {and the rest of my baby weight!} for good!  I’m hoping to lose 15lbs by Labor Day.

Overnight Oats Recipe

I found this recipe on the SITSgirls blog originally, and decided to try it.  It ended up being a huge hit with the kids too!  I did all the prep in about 5 minutes the night before.  In a mason jar, I layered:

  • sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 Steel Cut Oats
  • 1/3 mashed banana
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

Overnight Oats Recipe {chocolate and strawberry}

I found the Chia seeds at Publix for about $4 {but they were on sale for half price!}.  They don’t really taste like anything, but absorb the flavors around them.  But they are the perfect ingredient for breakfast because they are loaded with anti oxidants, high in fiber and omega 3, and they give you energy for the rest of your day.

Overnight Oats Recipe {chocolate and strawberry}

I gave all the ingredients a quick stir, screwed on the lids and then stuck the mason jars in the fridge over night.  The next morning, I stirred them again and they were ready to eat.  The steel cut oats were a bit chewy…it reminded me of how sometimes my jaw gets tired while chewing granola.  But the taste was good and chocolatey, so the kids liked it.  I will say that the chewiness added to the satisfaction factor….it took a long time to eat, so my stomach really felt full after breakfast.

Overnight Oats Recipe {chocolate and strawberry}

Tonight I’m going to try the recipe with old fashioned oats {which are a little lower in calories too}, to see if  they are a little easier to eat.  But either way, this Overnight Oats recipe was a delicious and ready-made morning meal for us!

Try it with blueberries, almond milk, nuts or agave for some different flavors.

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Sunday Scripture: Retreat

I am on retreat this week.  I’m holed up in a little cabin in the woods, resting and rejuvenating with my Bible, my best friend and our 6 kiddos {and lots of wine!}.  Not sure how much resting will actually take place, but I’m excited to take a break from the world for a week!

Sunday Scripture: Retreat

Thanks to Adelle Gabrielson and Pinterest for the image of this week’s Sunday Scripture!

Have a blessed week!

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How a Las Vegas Vacation Made Me a Better Mom

Y’all.  If there is one thing I have realized since having three kids, it’s that sometimes you need to just get away from them.

Not even kidding.  I’ve found that I can be a better, {and much more patient} mom after an hour or so by myself.  Not by myself cooking or cleaning, but by myself doing whatever I want to do.  And sometimes that is a solo grocery store trip, sometimes it’s a 2 hour haircut.  And sometimes it’s a four day Las Vegas vacation!

Ok, so I wasn’t completely alone.  But a little Hubby-time wasn’t too shabby either! {*wink, wink*}  Dave had a conference at The Venetian in Las Vegas for a week, so I flew out for the first half of it with him.  My parents were saints, and kept all three kids so I could have a little R&R.  Dave had workshops all day, but we were able to spend the evenings together.

During the day I wandered up and down the strip, window shopping and people watching.  I did some computer work, and sat by one of the 6 pools on the hotel grounds.  The weather was perfect…about 80, but that dry desert heat was a nice reprieve from the humidity of the south.

There is a reason why the call Las Vegas “Disneyworld for Adults.”  Everywhere you look, there are people in costume, street shows and bigger than life animatronics!


One of the coolest things about The Venetian is The Grand Canal Shoppes.  Almost every casino and hotel in Vegas has an indoor mall, but The Venetian has canals too!

The casinos obviously don’t want their patrons to leave {and stop spending money}, so you won’t find clocks or windows anywhere.  The shopping areas are made to look like they are outside, complete with outdoor cafes, and ceilings painted like the sky…with lighting cycles that mimic only daytime skies throughout the day.  The “sun” will set into a beautiful dusk, only to come right back up into a sunrise before morphing into full-blown daytime.

So when I walked through the Canal Shoppes, I really felt like I was strolling through Venice! The shoppes themselves weren’t really my style…lots of designer stores {you know, the ones that have three purses on display, and a security guard at the door}.  But it was fun seeing the mixture of people who looked like they could afford said purses, and the ones who may have stepped out of one of the “People of Walmart” videos…. Dave and I found a fun hat shop to play in, but stayed out of the stores for the most part!

The restaurants are to die for in Vegas….some of the best food in the world.  But also some of the loftiest prices too!  I was under the impression that staying and eating in Vegas was relatively inexpensive, with the casinos wanting their patrons to spend money gambling.  But I think the $5 buffets and “stay one night, get three free” days are over.  There are SO many other entertainment choices in Vegas now other than gambling, that people are coming from all over the world for the shows and food.

Last time we were there, Dave and I caught the “O” Circ de Soleil show at The Bellagio.  It was a mix of theatre, acrobatics, and synchronized swimming.  The floor of the show constantly changed back and forth between surface and water…to the point where your heart is thumping as acrobats flip off of trapezes headed straight for the “stage” with it turning into a giant pool of water, just in the nick of time.  Incredible!

This trip, we went a different direction in our entertainment and went to see The Blue Man Group.  It’s funny, because there are SO MANY inappropriate things about Vegas….between the bigger than life billboards featuring showgirls and the “Flippers” on the street that literally throw cards displaying naked women at you as you walk past.  We commented several times on the number of young children we saw with tourists.  However, The Blue Man Group Show was fantastic!  And the girls would have loved it!

It was equal parts rhythmic play on pipes and various spontaneous “instruments,” neon and black light illusions, and silent sketch comedy.  And lots of audience participation!

After a couple of days, including one at the spa, I was thoroughly rejuvenated and ready to go home to my Littles.  It’s amazing how much you can miss your babies in four short days!  I hopped a plane home, with a connection in Dallas.  During my layover, I wandered the airport shops, stumbling on these sweet cowboy-style rain boots!

A couple hours later, I was back home and ready to handle {with much more patience} life with three kiddos again!

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Apple Pie and Family {aka The Perfect Weekend}

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

A few weekends ago, we were finally able to get my entire family together for a Father’s Day celebration.  We had four generations in town, including my grandparents from Jacksonville and my aunt from Atlanta.  In the sweltering 100 degree heat, we lined everybody up and managed to still get some amazing pictures, courtesy of Rachel Weber Photography!

Apple Pie and Family

It was amazing to have everyone together again, especially my grandparents…who are the ones who started it all!  My kids just love them, and I love that they are able to have a relationship with their great-grandparents.

Hot Apple Pie from Bi-Lo and a Family Reunion!

It’s so inspiring to see them together…that they are still so in love after all these years.  I can only hope that Dave and I are like that 50 years from now too!

Hot Apple Pie from Bi-Lo and A Family Reunion!

It’s always a welcome challenge to feed a houseful of people.  Since this was a short visit, and oh-so hot…we opted for grilled chicken, watermelon and corn on the cob for dinner.

And for dessert?  Hot apple pie topped with vanilla ice cream!

But there was no way I had time to bake a homemade apple pie…so I had to go for second best.  I picked up an 8” Fresh Baked Apple Pie with Caramel Drizzle from the Bi-Lo down the street.  For $5 {all summer long}, it was a great deal and fed our whole gang!

Bi-Lo’s Apple Pie is made with crisp apples, picked at the peak of ripeness.  Every apple is carefully selected, cut and blended with sugar and warm cinnamon for a real homemade taste.  And my favorite part was the delicious caramel sauce that was drizzled on top of the pie while it was warm that brought out an amazing flavor combination.  It was the perfect sweet ending to our little family reunion!

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

Don’t forget to enter my Giveaway this week for a Beach Day Prizepack including some brand new sunglasses!!

Sunday Scripture: Overwhelmed

After a tough week of highly emotional and defiant little girls…I desperately needed this Sunday Scripture. Here’s to a better week next week!  Thanks to Fizz Finds for this adorable scripture rock found on Etsy.

Sunday Scripture courtesy of Fizz Finds

Have a blessed week!
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My Favorite Summer Hacks

Now that we are in the full swing of summer, I thought I’d give you a few {hopefully} new ideas for Summer Hacks.

My Favorite Summer Hacks - Palmettos and Pigtails

I know there are a ton out there, but these were new to me… and oh-so clever!

My Favorite Summer Hacks - Palmettos and Pigtails

Source: Lancaster Online

Feel like making s’mores?  Don’t have a fire pit handy?  All you need is a terra cotta pot, foil and charcoal.  Oh, and marshmallows!! Click here for this Individual Terra Cotta Campfire Tutorial. 

My Favorite Summer Hacks - Palmettos and Pigtails

Source: Lifestyle’s All Women’s Talk

That first {and hopefully only} sunburn of the season seems to be the initiation into summer.  No matter the SPF, I seem to get one doozy every year.  I love this idea to freeze Aloe Vera in Ice Cube Trays to have on hand for miserable, toasted children {or adults!}.  Fun shapes and the cold gel without the mess will get smiles back on faces, which will in turn, get those kids back outside! {Lather up again first!}

My Favorite Summer Hacks - Palmettos and Pigtails

Source: Mom with a Prep

This Redneck Air Conditioner seems like the perfect solution to working in a hot garage, or even to place by a dog kennel.  And in case you were wondering about giving dogs ice or ice water this summer….turns out it’s totally ok! 

My Favorite Summer Hacks - Palmettos and Pigtails

Source: Instructables

This Noodle Cooler is such a simple concept…I can’t believe I hadn’t seen a tutorial for it before.  Now I can cool off without getting out of the pool {or having to dive for my beer….}

My Favorite Summer Hacks - Palmettos and Pigtails

Source: Yesterday on Tuesday

Stick a little marshmallow in the bottom of your ice cream cone before scooping ice cream on.  The Marshmallow in the Cone absorbs drips and plugs the hole, creating a mess free ice scream experience!

My Favorite Summer Hacks - Palmettos and Pigtails

Source: Morning Creativity

This is a must-read for any boaters out there.  Always put your boat key on a Floating Key Ring, in case it goes overboard somehow.  I would imagine one of the newer plastic corks would be even better for bouancy without any deterioration.

My Favorite Summer Hacks - Palmettos and Pigtails

Source: The Make Your Own Zone

Between keeping your summer drinks cool, and icing off bumps and bruises, these DIY Icepacks are handy and way cheaper than store-bought.

My Favorite Summer Hacks - Palmettos and Pigtails

Source: My Pinned Life

And last but not least….one of my favorite Summer Hacks ever.  I’m still surprised at how many people don’t know about Baby Powder to Get Sand Off.  Sprinkle it on wet, sandy body parts to clean ’em off and be ready for a sand-free drive home!

Have you ever heard of any of these?  Do you know of any other good summer hacks?  Do share….

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I’m linking up this week!!