A Love Story: 70 Years Later

This afternoon, I have a love story for you.  It’s not my story, but belongs to my friend Jenny.  Her family got a 70 year old surprise this past Valentine’s Day, and she’s letting me tell you about it!

It all started when Jenny’s family {in Pennsylvania} received a package from a stranger in Missouri.  Inside was a letter from 1942 from on board the USS Arogonne.  It was a love letter from Jenny’s Grandfather, to her Grandmother, when he was in the Navy during WWII.

A Love Story: 70 Years Later

The letter was dated three years before Jim and Mary were actually married, and begins, “My dearest darling, here I am writing to you again because I haven’t anything else to do.”  The letter goes on for two pages, describing Jim’s love for Mary.  He states, “…I love you more than anything else in this world….its such a consolation to know that someone still loves you and is waiting for you back home.”

A Love Story: 70 Years Later

The couple eloped in August of 1945 in Maryland, and were happily married for 64 years before passing away.

A Love Story: 70 Years Later

But the most incredible part about this love story is how the letter managed to get back to Jenny’s family.  Apparently the letter was found in an estate sale, and the sender looked up Jim’s obituary to find information  about his surviving family.  Since the obituary mentioned the family business, an address was easily found and the letter finally made it’s way back to the family.

A Love Story: 70 Years Later

Jenny says that her grandfather was an avid stamp collector and would have loved that one of his letters had found it’s way home.  It’s an amazingly beautiful story, but more than anything it “reminds us of their love story and of how much they are still with us even though they are not.”

A Love Story: 70 Years Later

Jenny’s family also told their story on ABC World News:

http://6abc.com/family/pa-man-receives-grandparents-long-lost-love-letter/516932/

A love story for the ages!

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Cleaning for the Cleaning Lady

Today, we have a cleaning lady coming to “assess” our house.  Dave and I mutually agreed that we could squeeze a monthly deep clean into our budget, so we’ve started shopping around.  So today, I’m going to invite a stranger into my home to tell me how messy it is, and how much I’m going to pay her to clean it.

Maybe I’m being a bit of a drama queen here.  I mean, I’m absolutely thrilled that we are able to afford a little help.  But I can’t help but think my “Stay-at-Home Mom Card” is being taken away from me…or at least being scrutinized a bit.  I am the first to agree that raising 3 little kids is hard.  I certainly don’t sit on my couch eating bon-bons all day.  And add to that a 3,000 square foot house that just always seems dirty and cluttered.  And then there’s dinner, and grocery shopping, and laundry….don’t even get me started.

And I do realize that my awesome JOB, as a stay-at-home mom, is to raise my kids.  But also to keep house a little, you know? I feel like I should be able to handle the dust bunnies, loads of laundry, and vacuuming.  After all, I have my monthly cleaning calendars and short bursts of time when children are sleeping or playing nicely.  And I’ve got Dave and the kids that help out a lot too…the kids even have chore charts and age appropriate daily responsibilities. But it’s the deep cleaning that I struggle with.

So admitting that I need a little extra help with scrubbing showers, cleaning baseboards and washing windows isn’t all that bad, right?

But.  Even I know I shouldn’t, I feel like the cleaning lady will always be judging my dirty, cluttered house….and thinking, what does this lady do all day?!?!

So this morning, I am cleaning.  To impress the cleaning lady.

#firstworldproblems

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Valentine’s Day Dance

Our neighborhood put on the cutest little Valentine’s Day Dance for the kids this weekend.  It was the first time anything like this had been put on, so I had no idea what to expect…but I should have known that they’d pull out all the stops!  All the kids were dressed in their Valentine’s Day finest, happy to pose with silly glasses and boas in the makeshift photo booth.

I couldn’t convince the girls to wear their Valentine’s Day shirts, but at least I got their hair brushed!

Even Jo and I made it into some pics!  Lincoln tolerated it, but he would rather have been on the dance floor!

The DJ was fantastic about playing a good mix of Oldies “Love” songs {like Love Potion Number Nine}, tweeny bop music {insert Taylor Swift here} and group dances {the girls heart the Macarena!}, and so the dance floor was filled the entire night with bouncy boys and twirly little girls, and lots of good-sport daddies!

Dave was out of town, but Millie was able to recruit a stand in!

And, you’d be so proud of me….I was totally good, and completely resisted the beautiful display of cake pops, cupcakes and ice cream bar!

Valentine's Day Dance table of goodies

Sorry about the grainy pictures, I was taking with my phone, and it was pretty dark.  The ambiance was complete with candles in votives filled with mini marshmallows!

Everyone had a fantastic time, and it was a great way to start off the Valentine’s Day weekend!

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day! We celebrated with heart shaped pancakes and a photo shoot!

Valentine's Day Photo Shoot with DIY T-Shirts

Valentine's Day Photo Shoot with DIY T-Shirts

Lincoln was a little drooly…

Valentine's Day Photo Shoot with DIY T-Shirts

My little loves!

Valentine's Day Photo Shoot with DIY T-Shirts

For the tutorial on how to make their adorable t-shirts, check out this post, or even this one!

Hope your day is filled with hugs and kisses from the ones you love!

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National Compliment Week

I read on Facebook that last week was “National Compliment Week.”  Who creates these holidays, anyway?  Someone fishing for a compliment, obviously.  But it got me thinking about all of the powerful and influential women in my life.  And so I want to tell you about my friend, fellow mom, and pastor, Jenn.

I met Jenn when I first moved to South Carolina, and she was the intern at the church I started attending.  Although we weren’t friends for another year or so, I was immediately in awe of her.  I mean, here was this woman {the same age as me} who not only was strong enough to know her calling, but confident enough to go out and plant a new church that catered to the outer suburbs and rural areas of our town.  Starting from scratch!  I’m just so proud of who she is, and what she has done…even in just the 10 years I’ve known her.

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And personally, she is a great friend.  She married Dave and me and  baptized our kids.  Our eldest children were born a week apart, so we had the pleasure of going through that first pregnancy journey together.  And now our kiddos are great friends, and learning about Christ each week at Sunday School together.

Jenn and I are also in the same Bible Study Small Group.  And where normally I’d be completely intimidated by having the pastor in my small group, Jenn has become such an integral part of our little circle….not only as a leader, but as a fellow mom.  Our group’s confessions, prayer requests and laughter bring us all closer together…assuring each of us that we are not alone in our trials, and confirming that we are awesome moms, wives and friends.

Getting to know Jenn over the years on a personal level has been integral in my walk of faith.  I know her as a person, I respect her as a pastor.  And over the years, it’s been nice sharing life challenges with each other.  It’s gotten her off of that pastor pedestal and showed me that even she is human.  Just like me, Jenn has her own journey, and despite any challenges she faces, her absolute faith is what has encouraged me to open my heart more and more to Jesus.

So, just a little shout out to Jenn….thanks for being awesome!

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The One and Only

My initial feeling is one of annoyance as my three year old climbs on my back as I attempt to do some one-handed computer work while bouncing the baby on one knee.  The microwave beeps for the umpteenth time {what was in there, again?},  and my five year old hollers for more toilet paper from the upstairs bathroom.  So. much. going. on.  And, if I could just finish this one email…. But, the annoyance quickly disappears as my little one’s arms slide around my neck and she nuzzles her face in my {slightly dirty} hair. “My Mama.”  She says it matter of factly.  Because to her, it is fact.  I am her world.  I am Mama…the fixer, the wiper, the scolder, the hugger.  Anything she needs, she knows she can count on me.

Things to remember when your kids are annoying you!

My kids need me on average, every 3.4 seconds of each day.  And most of the time it is for silly, trivial, {annoying} little things.  But.  My three-year-old now insists on getting her own water out of the “fountain” in the fridge door.  She takes her merry old time, but can now officially buckle herself into her carseat.  And her hair.  Ermagard, her hair. It’s always a mess, because she insists on brushing, headbanding, and pony-tailing it herself.  And once again, I am reminded that she will not always need me.  The days of complete independence will soon be here, when friends and iPhones and sports will take the place of her time with me.  So why is it such a constant struggle for me to remember this daily?!?

Things to remember when your kids are annoying you!

I may not always have a smile on my face as I stop in my tracks to fix the seam on her socks.  Again.  I can’t promise that there won’t be a little attitude or sarcasm in my answer to impossible questions {over, and over, and over again} while I’m trying to concentrate on traffic in the car.  And I can’t promise that I’m not secretly rolling my eyes as I hear the high shriek of “MooooOOOOOOM!” from the playroom…..to think, they were playing so nicely together for the last 2 minutes!

Things to remember when your kids are annoying you!

So, once again….I remind myself to put that negative attitude away and appreciate these little moments….snot in my hair and all.

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A Pain in My Heel {5 Ideas for Plantar Fasciitis}

I think I mentioned last week that both Dave and I have started going to weekly bootcamp sessions.  We both are loving them {and VERY sore!}.  Dave’s been working out very early in the mornings a couple of times a week with about 50 other guys in town, doing F3.  I’ve started going to a Bootcamp here in town that’s been kicking my butt.  And I’ve only been to two workouts so far!

The first one was a skills assessment, so we ran through drills to see how many pushups, squats, etc. we could do in a minute.  I was relieved to see I was not the only one struggling.  But low numbers are ok, right?  My margin for improvement will just be greater that way!!  The second class we did some partner work, alternating a cardio routine {push-ups, squats and sprints} with a strength training sequence {tire flips, box jumps, and pull ups}.

The next morning, I couldn’t put any weight on my right foot.  It improved a bit over the next hour, so I could hobble around, but it was bad.  My foot had been kind of sore for a week or two prior, but it was definitely getting worse.  So Dave took me to the medical center and I got it X-rayed to make sure there were no stress fractures.  Turns out that I have Plantar Fasciitis and Heel Spurs.  Very painful, but as it turns out, manageable.

And as I’ve researched it and talked to my other runner-friends, I’ve found that Plantar Fasciitis is  very common.  So I wanted to share with you the 5 things I’m doing to cope with both problems.

5 Remedies to Help Heal and Prevent Plantar Fasciitis from Palmettos and Pigtails

1. Work out your muscle:  Use a golf ball {frozen if you want!}, or tennis ball to gently massage the bottom of your foot. Roll it around in circles, putting on gentle pressure.

5 Remedies to Help Heal and Prevent Plantar Fasciitis from Palmettos and Pigtails

2. Stretch: By rolling up a towel and wrapping it around the ball or arch of your foot.  Arch your toes upward and slowly straighten your knee and lift your leg slightly off of the ground.

5 Remedies to Help Heal and Prevent Plantar Fasciitis from Palmettos and Pigtails

3. Stretch: Use a wall or stairs to stretch and strengthen your calf muscles {which are attached to your heel and arch muscles}.  Put your good foot against the wall, and put your bad foot slightly behind.  Bend your knees a little and go downward for the stretch.

5 Remedies to Help Heal and Prevent Plantar Fasciitis from Palmettos and Pigtails

4. Ice it down: Freeze a water bottle and use the arch of your foot to roll it back and forth.  Not only will you be working and stretching the muscle, but also icing it down.

5 Remedies to Help Heal and Prevent Plantar Fasciitis from Palmettos and Pigtails

5. Take some Motrin or Ibuprofen as needed to control the inflammation and manage the pain.  Invest in some heel cups or orthopedic inserts, and get a new pair of sneakers that support your feet well.  I’m trying a new pair of Asics sneakers and  Heel Cups from Heel-the-Pain.

5 Remedies to Help Heal and Prevent Plantar Fasciitis from Palmettos and Pigtails

Refrain from high-impact activities, like running or jumping, until your pain is gone!  I’m keeping it low impact in my bootcamp class, and taking short walks with the girls after stretching my arches and calves really well.

I also found this cheat-sheet of exercises on Pinterest, from the site Padel Star.

5 Remedies to Help Heal and Prevent Plantar Fasciitis from Palmettos and Pigtails

I hope these tips give you some relief!

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{From the Archives} DIY Mr. Potato Head Felt Board

This is one of my favorite posts.  I love the kids.  I love the party theme.  And I love my readers….who clearly also love this post {or at least they love Mr. Potato Head!}, because this is one of my most read articles!  Take a trip down memory lane with me today!

June 2013

A couple of weekends ago, Millie’s boyfriend turned two.  I say boyfriend, because:

a) she looks forlornly out the window waiting for him to come home each day,and b) I caught the two of them canoodling over dinner the other night!Seriously though, I love this little boy!  Isn’t he adorable!?!  And his mama threw an awesome “Toy Story” Themed birthday party for him, complete with “Toy Story” jump castle {see it in the background?}.  Did you notice the “Woody” and “Jessie” outfits?

All that was missing was a party game, so I volunteered to make a Mr. Potato Head Felt Game {kind of a twist on Pin the Tail on the Donkey?!}.   And I couldn’t believe how easy it was to do.  I started with a large piece of felt that was the size of the easel we’d be putting it on.  I then “sketched out” with a skinny marker on felt, one half of the Potato Head.  I’m terrible at making things even, so then I folded the felt in half and cut on the line I had drawn, creating a mirror image on the other side {and a perfect Potato Head!}.

I hot glued the blank potato head onto the background felt, and cut little slits at the top of the background, where I tied ribbon through to attach it to the easel.  The greatest thing about felt {other than that it sticks to itself}, is that it doesn’t fray!!DIY Mr. Potato Head Felt Board and Toy Story Party from PalmettosandPigtails.comI used the Mr. Potato Head toys that we got at Disney as my model.  Then, folding all the rest of the felt in half {to make everything even}, I sketched and cut out eyes, a red nose, mustache, feet, ears and mouth.  I did the same for the hat as well, adding a second layer of a black felt strip to give the lip of the hat a little dimension.  I also added black pupils to the eyes.  I’m not the greatest artist, so I tried to keep it simple!  And I didn’t even attempt to go authentic on the hands….five fingers and I was happy!I don’t think anyone actually played the game, but the kids had a lot of fun creating silly Potato Head faces!

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Christmas Traditions

Happy New Year!

Hope the start of 2015 has treated you well so far.  As you know, I don’t really believe in New Year’s Resolutions, but we do have a couple of projects coming up that we are excited about.  My parents gave us the gift of peace this Christmas by whisking the girls away for four days immediately after Christmas, so Dave and I could get some stuff done around the house.  Our first big project of 2015 is the Playroom Renovation…more to come on that later.

Dave and I also have joined a couple of Bootcamp programs to get rid of the baby weight that we’ve gained.  Dave’s program is especially cool…it’s called F3 and is new to our area.  It’s completely free and stands for Fitness, Fellowship and Faith.  Basically a Bootcamp Bible Study!  Wish they had a women’s one….

Christmas was kind of a whirlwind this year.  Both sets of grandparents traveled in from Florida for a few days.  It was great to have the kids surrounded by their grandparents…and I loved that we, once again, got to continue most of our little family’s Christmas traditions this holiday season.  That’s my favorite part about Christmastime…the traditions.

Christmas Traditions from Palmettos and Pigtails

None of them are groundbreaking or terribly creative, but they mean so much to our family.  For instance, we begin celebrating Christmas by decorating the house the day after Thanksgiving.  Dave always puts the tree up, while I decorate the rest of the house.  The kids hang their handmade ornaments on the bottom half of the tree, while the fragile ones go more toward the top.  All the while listening to Christmas music.

Christmas Traditions from Palmettos and Pigtails

Our favorite tradition is our Christmas Eve Morning Brunch.  It started out as 30 of our closest friends and neighbors gathering in our house for a potluck brunch with a last minute visit from Santa.  But this year {our 4th year}, we finally had to move it down to the Farmhouse {our neighborhood clubhouse} to accommodate the 120 people that showed up this year! And with our kids getting older, we finally had to retire our Santa’s helper that used to come {Dave} in exchange for the real deal…who comes in his red car and has a real beard!

Christmas Traditions from Palmettos and Pigtails

On Christmas Eve, we enjoy crock-pot chili, the Night Before Christmas, and new Christmas jammies after visiting our church for their 5:00 service.  I love “Silent Night”, but the glowsticks are the highlight for the kiddos!

Christmas Traditions from Palmettos and Pigtails

And much to the dismay of my father-in-law, we make the kids WAIT to open their presents on Christmas morning.  That’s right…I am a mean mommy who insists on brushing her teeth, starting on breakfast and grabbing a cup of coffee, before settling down on the couch to enjoy the kids arriving downstairs to begin the all-morning process of opening gifts.  We are also a one-gift-at-a-time kind of family.  I’m thrilled that the girls are just as happy to hand out gifts to everyone else, as opening their own.  And they actually take time to play with their new toys and appreciate them before tearing into the next.  It may take us all morning to open everything, but I think that the whole family enjoys the leisurely buffet while watching the Jayna and Millie show!

Christmas Traditions from Palmettos and Pigtails

Christmas Traditions from Palmettos and Pigtails

Christmas Traditions from Palmettos and Pigtails

Later that day, while the “guys” smoke turkey and pork on the smoker and then promptly take naps, the kids play with their new toys and I start fixing supper.  We eat around 4:30 or 5 each year, since we’ve just been snacking all day.  And I just love that time in my kitchen, surrounded by the ladies that raised me, encouraged me and inspired me.  And although my feet are killing me by the end of the day, it’s all worth it as we gather around the dining room table to celebrate the Lord’s birth together.

Next year, we will have the same crazy schedule.  Despite all of my careful planning, we’ll get stressed about the amount of people coming to the brunch.  I’ll panic as I realize that I forgot three ingredients crucial to the feast I’m making for Christmas Day.  We’ll fight tooth and nail to get the children in their Christmas best, hair done and shoes on…AND get to church on time.  But when it’s all said and done, I’ll sit back with {just one more} Christmas cookie and a coffee with Irish Creme, and thank God for all of my blessings!

Christmas Traditions from Palmettos and Pigtails

Hope y’all had a wonderful Holiday too!

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January 2015 Cleaning Calendar

Happy New Year!  So, my father-in-law visited over the holidays and attempted to call me out on my cleaning calendars.  My December calendar was up on my fridge, but he wanted to know if I really used it.

Wanna know too?

Yes.  I really use it.  However, I will admit that I don’t do one chore a day.  Some days, I just don’t have the 15 minutes it takes to do the daily chore.  But then other days, I end up having a free hour, and I can bang out five or six things at once.  I also don’t do the chores in order.  I do the ones that are realistic for me to accomplish on any given day.

And my personal resolution regarding the calendar?  To start holding my family a little more accountable for helping out with the chores too.  I purposefully put outside/garage/heavy lifting chores on the weekends with the intent that Dave will be able to help out with those. There are also a bunch of really simple chores each months that the kids can definitely help with.  For example, dusting the blinds and wiping down the light switches are super easy for kids to help with.  For more ideas, check out my master lists of ideas for age appropriate chores.

Here’s to starting the new year with a clean house! Click on the picture to print your own January 2015 Cleaning Calendar.

January 2015 Cleaning Calendar from Palmettos and Pigtails

click here to download and print!

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