The Summer Scene 2017

Hard to believe that summer is already half over.  Just like every year, I swore up and down that we were going to take it easy this summer…not do to much.  And just like every year, we’ve managed to pack it completely full yet again!Our summer started with a lot of gardening.  Rita’s Roots is amazing.  Rita herself comes out once a month or so and helps us clear out, spray for bugs, replant, etc.  And our garden has never looked better.  The kids love helping out…we’ve currently got okra, carrots, peppers, sweet potatoes, garlic, potatoes, kale, and tons of tomatoes.  I make salsa almost daily, and luckily my kids can’t get enough of kale chips.And we have the most beautiful Caprese Salads for lunch every day.  The yellow tomatoes are much sweeter than the red…YUM!These little guys helped us with our kale overload earlier this summer.  We borrowed them from our friend Mr. Paul’s farm for a few weeks to help socialize them so they can find forever homes.  But we may have bitten off more than we could chew with three bunnies….they eat and poop ALOT!  Meet ‘Camo,’ ‘Chillax,’ and ‘Oreo.’  They loved escaping out of their bin in order to play in the dollhouse and climb all over Lincoln.Jayna tried her hand at swim team this year and loved it!  She regularly placed 1st in Freestyle and in the Freestyle Relay, and usually got 3rd in backstroke.  We’re still working on Breastroke and Butterfly so she can rock those next summer.  I think Millie will be ready for swim team next year too….she finally got strong enough this year to swim across the pool without stopping!

Lincoln looked on (next year, Buddy!) as the girls went to Vacation Bible School and Cheer Camp again this summer too, before we headed out for a three-week long vacation!First stop was a house (and boat) rental for a week at Lake Keowee.  This is our absolute favorite place to vacation “locally”…just a few minutes away from Clemson and less than an hour from Greenville, it’s the perfect combo of lazy lake days and fun excursions.  We rented a big house with three of other families from the neighborhood….not quite as extravagant as our New Year’s Eve Vacation with 15 families last winter, but still fun!We spent all day, just about everyday out on the boat; cruising, tubing and waterfall-hunting.  Perfection.  And Lincoln apparently just needs a speedboat in order to take a goooooooood nap.  He fell asleep on those windy rides every single day.  The evenings were spent eating ice cream and playing board games…perfection!

Straight from Keowee, I drove the kids down to St. Augustine for a week with MomMom and GP while I flew out to join Dave in Las Vegas for a week.  There, I went to the spa, hung by the pool, and people watched mostly.  When Dave wasn’t in his workshops, he was at the craps table….breaking even (luckily!).Meanwhile, the kiddos were taking over St. Augustine.  They just love the pirate tours, the lighthouse and the beach.  And now that they’ve met a friend who works at the Alligator Farm, they have gotten to go behind the scenes there as well as Marineland….where they’ve made new friends with the dolphins and Galapagos Tortoises!  I don’t think they missed us at all….Although Dave had to go home to work, I went back to Florida to pick up the kids….and my parents…and we continued on to Ft. Myers on the Gulf Coast to my sister’s house for a few days.  Loo is about to have a baby in a few weeks, so we decided to spend the 4th of July with her and Doc.While we were there, we also threw her a surprise baby shower.  All of her friends and family live far away, so my mom organized a virtual baby shower on Facebook.  She had all of the invitees send gifts to her, and we wrapped and brought them with us to Loo’s house.  And while she was down at the pool with Lincoln one morning, us girls decorated Loo’s condo and prepared for the surprise shower!  She opened all of the gifts and we showed everything live on Instagram and Facebook so that everyone felt like they were there in spirit!It was a huge success and we all had fun helping Loo set up all of her new baby stuff to get ready for Baby “Bean.”  And it was double fun for me, because there is nothing more fun than being pregnant at the same time as your little sister!!

That’s right!  If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you know that we are expecting another Baby Boy this November!  We are all surprised by the news, but couldn’t be happier about our growing family!  It’s yet another reason why I’ve backed off on so many blog posts too…be sure to follow me on social media @Palmettos and Pigtails to follow along with the rest of our summer adventures!Here’s to a relaxed and completely boring rest of the summer!

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One Day at a Time

Hi there!  Remember me?  I know, it’s been months…I’ve missed you!  Life somehow has gotten in the way lately, and blogging has had to go to the back burner.  Or maybe off the stove completely.  I’m so humbled by those of you who have reached out to me….I don’t even know you, and you were worried about where I’d gone!  I’m still here…hanging on by a thread sometimes, but here.

I’d love to blame it on Flowertown Festival.  But in reality, I was super prepared this year, and did very little last-minute prep (usually I’m up late the whole month before doing last-minute inventory).  The festival weekend was beautiful and successful…and after a few rainy and slow years, it made me appreciate my crafty side of life again!  So…. if Flowertown isn’t why I went M.I.A……what happened?!?!In a nutshell, life has exploded.  I started working part-time for our church.  Y’all.  We LOVE our church.  Our faith has grown so much since becoming members, we’ve made an incredible tribe of friends and our kiddos are loving learning more and more about Jesus every day.  We found our place once we got involved.  Dave helps out with all things technology-wise and has an awesome group of Godly men that he meets with weekly.  And I have been helping out with curriculum and weekly logistics for the church’s kiddos for about 5 years now.  So I feel incredibly blessed to know officially be on staff and be even more involved with our church community.  They are doing great things in our little corner of the world, from feeding hundreds of people each week from our food truck to building an actual church building to allow more people to worship with us and learn about Christ.  And our kids’ ministry has exploded with over 100 kiddos in our program every. single. week.  Crazy!  And so exciting!The staff I work with is just incredible.  I’ve never been around such a creative, hilarious and Godly group of people…and I have the privilege of hanging out with them for a few hours each week.  I love my new job.  However, life with me working even for a few hours outside of the home each week has been a transition.  The hours I normally spent blogging and sewing have been re-dedicated to church stuff and meetings, so I’m learning how to structure my days….again.And let me tell ya, life didn’t slow down any to accommodate any of these changes.  Lincoln is a full-blown preschooler now {where did my chill toddler go?!?!}…with his own opinions on everything and a vocabulary that has exploded.  His little “certainly” and “you bet I am” quips keep me in stitches.  He runs, jumps, and climbs on everything he possibly can, but  doesn’t hesitate to pause for a snuggle.  The day before Easter he fell at the farm and busted his head open.  5 hours in the ER and 6 stitches and 8 staples later, he was a miniature Frankenstein….but back to his old self.  A week later, he got everything taken out and you’d never know about the gray hairs he caused me that week!Millie is finishing up kindergarten, and has absolutely blown me away with her reading skills.  This second half of the year something must have clicked because she has turned into quite the bookworm!  She pretty much has two modes…..dramatic and hilarious.  Everything is a big deal and possibly the end of the world.  So, she might as well talk in funny voices and do silly dances!  She is rounding out her school year with the first of many sleepovers and the start of gymnastics at the YMCA.Jayna blew through second grade this year…acing everything on her report card.  She was one of literally a handful of kids in her school that tested into the Gifted and Talented Education class for next year, and gets to attend the GATE summer program.  She’ll be doing chemistry, computer programming, and other STEM stuff for two weeks this summer.  Softball started late this spring and so we’ve been having 2 practices and 2 games a week.  Which would be fine except that swim team also has started 4 days a week so we pretty much live at the ball fields, at the pool and in the car every evening.  We have yet to master the art of carpooling (or family dinners, for that matter), but it’s moved to the top of my list because….well, something’s gotta give.  She and I have had some great mother-daughter dates this spring, including going to the Secret Keeper Girl Show.  If it ever comes to your town, I highly recommend it for your 7-10 year old….it’s a live Christian show that focuses on modesty.  It’s really well done and a really fun mother-daughter time!As for Dave and I, we have been in constant travel mode lately.  St. Mom Mom has come to corral the children a couple of times as Dave and I jet to conferences and business trips, with the occasional trip to Orlando as well!  We joined a few of our neighbors to head to Disney for the “Dark Side” Half Marathon….a Star Wars themed 10K and half marathon, which Dave ran two days in a row.  I am so proud of him-a 10K and then a half marathon the very next day!!  Then, all six of us headed to Universal Studios for a day of rides, Harry Potter and Butterbeer.  Although we love doing Disney with the kiddos….there is something to be said about that place during an all-adult weekend too!

So there you have it….a few things we’ve been up to the past couple of months.  We have a few more things up our sleeves, including a massive rearranging of the house.  More on that later! Thanks for checking in….I’ll be back soon!

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An Unplanned Wedding

My baby sister finally got married! We are absolutely thrilled for her and her new hubby, Doc.  And her wedding weekend was absolutely perfect, and just her style.She stressed me out a bit with her “unplanned wedding.”  As a Type-A personality, I couldn’t fathom not planning every second of the weekend, but a laid-back event was just up her alley.  Once they finally picked Labor Day weekend for their wedding date, they decided to keep it to just immediate family.  They’ll have some separate celebrations with their friends later on.  As for the weekend, we were able to relax and hang  out with our “new” extended family.Our side of the family decided to rent a property in Fort Myers.  It was perfect because it had just the right amount of bedrooms in the main house, plus an adorable 2 bedroom guesthouse that our little family {we had the only kids} could invade.  The main house also had a huge living area and a nice pool, perfect for entertaining.
My mom took over the hostess role by opening up the main house to Doc’s side of the family too.  On the day of the actual ceremony, she hosted a brunch and pool party so that the two families could bond a little.The ceremony was held at a property that’s right by Loo’s apartment, right on the water.  There was just enough indoor area for us girls to get ready for the ceremony there.  Jayna and Millie loved getting their hair done professionally, and the flower crowns were perfect for my little flower girls.

The wraparound porch had a bar, some tables and a bluegrass band that played during the ceremony as well as the reception.  And although the girls were disappointed that the band didn’t know “Big Rock Candy Mountain,” the music was fantastic and fun to dance to.

Millie had the official job of throwing the flowers.  And she took it VERY seriously.

Lincoln did great during the ceremony too; he cheesed the entire time, and got in every.single.one. of the family wedding photos after the ceremony! The ceremony itself was gorgeous.  Overlooking the water at sunset, the ceremony was performed by a good friend of the family.  And since there were only immediate family members there, we all got a front row seat!Congratulations Loo and Doc!

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A Seaworld Birthday

I love throwing parties, but I’m an “all-in” type of party-thrower.  If I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna do it right, and you bet it’s gonna be themed.  I had a blast planning all three of my kids’ first birthday bashes.  Even though they will never remember, I had a great time planning them, and I think the neighbors enjoyed themselves too.  But, after three kids who have birthdays spread throughout the year, I just can’t do big parties every year.  So we decided to only do big stuff on big birthdays.  You know, the milestones.How we celebrated our five year old's birthday at @Seaworld #aquarium #seaworld #birthdayHow we celebrated our five year old's birthday at @Seaworld #aquarium #seaworld #birthdayExcept, we broke the rule immediately when Jayna’s birthday request was to get her ears pierced and get “anything American Girl” as a gift.  For her 7th birthday.  Not a milestone.  But we splurged anyway, and I whisked her to see my sister in Atlanta for the weekend; where we went to the zoo, had lunch at the American Girl Store and got her {and her doll’s} ears pierced.  A big birthday, as far as I was concerned.Seaworld has many indoor exhibits {including a shark tunnel!}, so it is a great activity for a cloudy day in OrlandoSo naturally, when Millie’s 5th birthday {a milestone!} rolled around in August, we felt like she needed something special as well.  Millie’s birthday always kind of sneaks up on me, as it’s usually the first week or so of school, so we are settling into new schedules and routines.  But this year, I had a wedding on my side!  My sister, Loo, had her wedding date set for Labor Day weekend in Florida, and we were already going to have to pull the kids from school for that.  So Dave and I decided to drop Jayna and Lincoln off at my parents’ house, and head to Orlando with Millie to celebrate her birthday at Seaworld.How we celebrated our five year old's birthday at @Seaworld #aquarium #seaworld #birthdayHow we celebrated our five year old's birthday at @Seaworld #aquarium #seaworld #birthdayMillie, being the typical middle child, never gets alone time with us.  She always has a sibling hanging around, and kind of gets lost in the shuffle.  So spending the entire day at Seaworld being the focus of attention from both parents was a perfect birthday celebration for her!How we celebrated our five year old's birthday at @Seaworld #aquarium #seaworld #birthdayAnd Seaworld was the perfect park to take her to.  Unlike Disney, there aren’t a ton of rides at Seaworld.  They have three big coasters there, which cater to the mopey teenager who is getting dragged along on the family vacation….I don’t think I even reached their height requirements!  And since Millie isn’t big on the rides anyway, she adored the shows and animals.Seaworld has many indoor exhibits, so is a great activity for a cloudy day in OrlandoThe animals and silly shows at Seaworld make it the perfect park to take a 2-5 year old who may be too small for rides at other Orlando theme parks.We added on the dining plan for the day, which ended up being a good value for us.  We were there from park opening til closing, so we got all three meals included, as well as as many snacks as we wanted.  And since it was a special day, I didn’t even flinch when Millie ordered Fanta and a bowl of cookies for her snack.  Rest assured, she also made some healthy choices, a bowl of watermelon and a cup of strawberries throughout the day too!We splurged on the Seaworld DIning plan and found that it was a great deal for our trip. Read more tips and about our experience at Seaworld.For $10, we also got the “Animal Dining Plan.”  This consisted of tickets to exchange for food to give to the sting rays, the sea lions and the sharks.  Our favorite was the rays….we are a little partial to them, I suppose.  Millie loved their silky feel as they glided by.  Throwing sardines to the sea lions, was a noisy affair, but they were fun to watch as they barked and argued over the fish flying at them…even though half of the fish were swooped up by birds who were watching our every move.  Millie loved petting the sharks, but feeding them was totally anti-climatic.  I think they were already well feed…they didn’t seem to care about our offering!For $10, Seaworld gives you food to feed sharks, stingrays and sea lions....great interactive activity for cheap!For $10, Seaworld gives you food to feed sharks, stingrays and sea lions....great interactive activity for cheap!And I know it is a controversial program, but we really enjoyed the Shamu show.  I was eager to take at least one kid to Seaworld while they are still there, since they are discontinuing the Orca program.  And being able to see them up close really heightened our appreciation of them.  They are so, so big…and beautiful!  It was really magical getting to see them swimming and jumping.Since the Shamu show and Orca program is being discontinued, it was our last chance to see these majestic creatures up close at Seaworld.Another stroke of luck was the weather.  Since we didn’t have any flexibility regarding the date we went to Seaworld {since we were on our way to a wedding!}, we ended up going on the day that Tropical Storm Hermine was hitting the lower Southeast.  As we stayed in touch with our rained-in neighbors back in South Carolina to check on the house and dog, we were enjoying a cloudy Thursday at Seaworld…in an almost empty park.  We didn’t have to wait for anything, and the rain held out all day!Seaworld has many indoor exhibits, so is a great activity for a cloudy day in OrlandoAnd since there were hardly any other people there, we had most indoor places just about to ourselves.  We especially liked the sea turtle and manatee aquarium…we not only got a guided tour, but also a private showing of the 4D movie from the perspective of a baby sea turtle.Seaworld has many indoor exhibits, so is a great activity for a cloudy day in OrlandoThe arctic exhibit and the penguin house were also great exhibits to spend time in, although visiting the freezing, open air penguin exhibit might not have been the best place to visit right after riding the one “Splash Mountain” type ride.  Millie was soaked, and therefore immediately freezing!  But she was super cute in the gift shop afterwards, picking out baby belugas and macaroni penguins to bring home to her siblings.Seaworld has many indoor exhibits, so is a great activity for a cloudy day in OrlandoI was initially kind of disappointed to find out that the park closed at 6pm, but it turns out that we had plenty of time to do everything we wanted to do, and not be completely exhausted.  We headed back to the hotel, and while Dave did some work stuff, Millie and I enjoyed the pool and the lobby.  Turns out we are completely entertained by free coffee, aquariums and Seaworld/Disney brochures.How we celebrated our five year old's birthday at @Seaworld #aquarium #seaworld #birthday

We had a fantastic 24 hours with our Middle Little to celebrate her 5th birthday at Seaworld!  Happy Birthday Millie!

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Camp RaKuhn

If you didn’t already know, I am kind of a dork.  The only jokes I know are cheesy.  I can recite random lines from movies.  And I love me a good mash-up of two names.  So when I randomly tried to get the attention of my kids as well as my friend Betsy’s….it came out “Ray-Kuhn kids, let’s go!”  And, Camp RaKuhn was born.  Complete with a raccoon mascot, of course.We normally go somewhere to see each other every summer {either Montreat, NC or West Jefferson, NC}.  So when Betsy and her crew decided to come to our house for a week instead this year, the pressure was on to create the same kind of memories we do each year together.  Crafts galore, outings, porch sitting, splashing in creeks.Too bad all of our bodies of water have gators, we literally could not fit all 8 of us in a single vehicle for outings, and our porch is hot and dirty.  I was feeling discouraged.  I was worried Camp RaKuhn at our house was going to be a bust.

But, with a little last minute prep from Dave, we were able to transform our back porch into a lantern-lit, canvas-curtained, coffee-cozy retreat that Betsy and I were able to sit on while the kiddos came and went.  It was a great in-between for yard play and house play.We managed to get a couple of outings in over the week.  The big trip was to Bee City, our favorite little local petting zoo.  The price is right, the animals are so sweet, and there is something new every time.  The kids had a blast!I’m not sure if you can count the grocery store and the pool as outings, but we sure were a spectacle while traveling.  One mama loaded up with all 6 kids under 7, plus supplies….and the other one laughing and posting to Instagram….The nice thing about being local for our staycation is that Bets and I were able to sneak out  for an afternoon alone, thanks to a babysitter and naptime!  So naturally, we went to Walmart and Hobby Lobby.Our final group outing was to Cracker Barrel in town, where we had a lovely last-brunch before Betsy and the girls hit the road to head back north.  And just a few more photos….after all, the kids were sporting their brand new Camp Rakuhn tee-shirts!The tee-shirts were SO easy to make.  We worked on them a little each night {we had 6 to make after all!}, and customized each shirt with different colored lettering.  I’ll show you how we did it in another post, but we were able to find numerous images of the same cute little raccoon doing different things, so we’ll have shirts again next year!!Overall, I think Camp RaKuhn was a hit, and as soon as they got here and the kiddos all just jumped right back where they left off last year, I stopped stressing about activities.  One day, they literally entertained themselves for 45 minutes making the babies run back and forth between them!Upcycled Sock Donuts using Puffy Paint, Felt and SocksThey were more than content to just play with each other…although the Sock Donut Shop was also a hit!  Betsy and I got many hours of coffee and catching up, as well as out fill of crafts at night.Til next year, my dear!

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Weekend Wedding in Atlanta

Last month, we went to one of Dave’s cousins’ wedding in Atlanta.  We had a blast….and took ALOT of pictures.  I’ve been editing every night trying to get this post out to you!  Dave comes from a HUGE family, most of whom live in the Atlanta area.  So when his cousin Abby got married, we packed up our clown car and headed west.

We don’t get to see everyone very often, but Dave has a bunch of cousins that are our age, and then all of our kids, who are about the same age as well.  It’s amazing how kids who haven’t seen each other in years {or ever!} can pick up immediately and become best friends…at least for the weekend!The girl cousins pose before the wedding in Atlanta!We started the weekend hanging out with the family at one of the Aunt’s houses.  The girls hung out with the bride and played piano, the bigger ones played board games in the basement, and the boys rough and tumbled all over the house!  And the adults talked…and talked…and talked…

Friday, we had kind of a free day as half of the cousins went to bridal luncheons and hair appointments.  So, naturally, we went to the mall.  And immediately spent way too much money on the first thing that we saw….trampolines.  We harnessed the girls up and video-taped their every jump for the next 10 minutes.  Millie enjoyed jumping all over the place, and *ahem,* trying to flip. Jayna caught on to the flipping right away, and I got dizzy just watching her!

On Saturday, we spent the morning napping and swimming…my perfect vacation!  And it was a good thing we rested up, because the reception turned out to be quite the party.

The reception was held in this old converted train depot…huge chandeliers, exposed brick, and the wood bathroom stall doors were even gorgeous!Our weekend away for the wedding in Atlanta! Cousins, dancing and a Photo Booth of course!And the groom’s cake was so cool, featuring a Georgia Tech stadium complete with a real jumbo-tron!The traditional cake, and the groom's "cake" for the wedding in Atlanta....a Georgia Tech stadium with truffles as spectators and an iPad Jumbo-tron!But the highlight of the wedding in Atlanta was the Photo Booth.  I just can’t.  The kids were so stinkin’ adorable in that booth!  And it was set up in a way that I was able to sneak behind the camera and get some priceless shots!Our weekend away for the wedding in Atlanta! Cousins, dancing and a Photo Booth of course!These three were immediately pros…especially when it came to silly faces.  I guess all 4ish year-old kids are naturals when it comes to silly faces.Our weekend away for the wedding in Atlanta! Cousins, dancing and a Photo Booth of course!Little Lincoln {in his adorable bow-tie!} spend the evening with a full dance card….all the ladies wanted to boogie with him, but his favorite was “Princess” Abby!Our weekend away for the wedding in Atlanta! Lil' Man has a crush on the bride! Everyone had a blast dancing the night away!  We can’t wait to hang out with the whole family again soon!

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Road Trip Bingo with Chick-fil-A

Well, it’s about that time in the summer where we pack up the kids and go on road trips!  All throughout the month of July we are in and out, with and without kids, beds full of company.  Just like every other family, we love traveling.  And since we started ’em young {they were each about 6 weeks old for their first road trips}, my kids are used to being the car for hours on end.  That being said, it doesn’t mean they don’t get bored.

So when Chick-fil-A came out with a Road Trip Bingo on their blog, I pounced on the opportunity to download the free printable  for our next trip.Free Printable Road Trip Bingo from Chick-fil-A #sponsored #ad #roadtrip #freeprintable #cfamoms #chickfilamoms #cfaone @ChickfilA

With four different versions to print, the whole family will be able to play.  And with my new Chick-fil-A One app, I’ll be able to order lunch ahead of time….and maybe a cookie for the winner!

Happy travels!

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An Atlanta Birthday Surprise

My baby turned seven last week.  It’s just so hard for me to believe that it’s been seven years since our little family of two became three {and then four, and then five…}.  Her birth was the just the beginning of the chaos that we lovingly call our life now!  But unfortunately, Jayna was born in the beginning of February, which is usually the first month of “real” winter here in South Carolina {meaning, it may get below freezing!!!}.  And it kinda falls during the hole of a week somewhere between the Superbowl and Valentine’s Day.  And it sneaks up on me every year.Jayna's Birthday Weekend in AtlantaSure, she had parties back when she was an only child and the center of my universe, but lets be honest….I don’t have the time, energy or money to through a party for every kid, every year.  And so far, she’s been happy with getting pedicures and eating cupcakes with her best friend from next door {and I’ve been happy with her contentment!}.  But this year I decided to do something a little different and actually celebrate her.  The Atlanta skylineSo I made a last minute plan to surprise her on Friday by picking her up a little early from school and taking her to Atlanta for the weekend.  My sister lives there, so we had a free place to stay, and Jayna loved the one-on-one attention she got all weekend!Jayna's Birthday Weekend in AtlantaOn Saturday, we had a lazy morning and then hit the mall to get her ears pierced!!  She’s been dying to get it done, so I figured it needed to happen on a special occasion.  She did great, claiming that her American Girl Doll helped her stay brave!Jayna's Birthday Weekend in AtlantaThen, we headed to Zoo Atlanta, where we saw the animals that she wanted to see.  Usually when I take the kids to the zoo, we follow the path to see all the major animals.  But this weekend, we followed Jayna’s lead…even if it meant visiting the naked mole rats {ew, ew, ew} and spending half of the afternoon in the Reptile House!Jayna's Birthday Weekend in AtlantaJayna's Birthday Weekend in AtlantaI love going to different zoos, since they’ve all got different animals…my favorites were the pandas and the red pandas at Zoo Atlanta.  The other {secret} highlight for Loo and me was that it was mating season.  Ok, that sounded a little creepy, but all of the “romance” that was happening unbeknownst to Jayna was quite amusing to us!Jayna's Birthday Weekend in AtlantaLater that night, we hit Ikea {surprised?} and had a impromptu jam session while Jayna taught Chris the words to “Big Rock Candy Mountain.”Jayna's Birthday Weekend in Atlanta On Sunday, we surprised Jayna again with a trip to the American Girl Store and Cafe for lunch and shopping.vJayna's Birthday Weekend at the American Girl Store in AtlantaJayna's Birthday Weekend at the American Girl Store in AtlantaShe and her doll loved getting dressed up for lunch!  And let me tell you, I was really impressed by lunch.  The amount of food {and good!} was really good for the price, and included an appetizer and main course.  But my favorite thing is the attention to detail when it came to the doll’s dining experience…Jayna's Birthday Weekend at the American Girl Store in Atlanta

From her own high chair, to doll sized servings of lunch, to a flower for her hair….Jayna’s American Girl Doll got pampered in every way.  And she got to take everything home with her!Jayna's Birthday Weekend at the American Girl Store in AtlantaThe store was huge and overwhelming….Jayna loved it.  They were pushing the new doll that’s out {who is now on Jayna’s short list of}, down to a life-sized display of her living quarters.  And can I just say, that I don’t understand where people keep all of their props and accessories for these dolls.  Everything is either huge or teensy.  Cost aside {$$$}, where does one keep a 18″ doll sized treehouse with outdoor barbecue?  Seriously, they must have separate rooms to store their little {big} doll house collections!
Jayna's Birthday Weekend at the American Girl Store in AtlantaIt took us about two hours to explore {every single detail of} the store, and Jayna finally settled on a few small accessories for her doll….”she needs glasses in case she wants to be a teacher.”  And we also decided that since the doll had helped Jayna through her ear piercing, she deserved to get hers done too!!We had a blast over the weekend, and I just loved connecting with my firstborn again.  Happy birthday Jaynabug!

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Holiday Recap 2015

Happy New Year friends!

I know I was MIA over the holidays….but hopefully you were too busy with your families to really notice!  We hosted Christmas at our house again, with both Dave and my families coming into town for a few days.  The week was a blur of wrapping paper, Christmas cookies, giggles and snuggles….couldn’t have been more perfect!  So here is my little Holiday Recap:Holiday Recap 2015 from Palmettos and PigtailsWe held our annual Christmas Eve Brunch for our friends again this year, down at the Farmhouse {our community center}, and once again, Santa made room in his schedule to squeeze in one last visit.Holiday Recap 2015 from Palmettos and PigtailsLincoln was pretty tolerant of Santa, but this was the year that Millie was really intrigued by him.  Santa always sits the kids down and tells them the story of Baby Jesus’ birth and how Santa plays a role in Christmas too.  Holiday Recap 2015 from Palmettos and PigtailsHoliday Recap 2015 from Palmettos and PigtailsAnd sure enough, it didn’t take long for Millie to make her way up and stand by Santa’s side for the rest of the story!Holiday Recap 2015 from Palmettos and PigtailsBut the highlight of our party this year was that we were able to get a ton of family here in time.  In addition to my parents and grandma, we also managed to get about half the cousins on my mom’s side of the family in one big picture too!  Hard to believe that this is only half of us!Holiday Recap 2015 from Palmettos and PigtailsChristmas Morning was delightful when the girls realized that they lucked out with two American Girl dolls each!  Santa brought them new ones, and Mommy and Loo Loo also gave them the dolls that we had as kids, including their whole wardrobe!  Holiday Recap 2015 from Palmettos and PigtailsSo we spent the morning unwrapping, and undressing, and redressing, and combing and playing with the American Girls.Holiday Recap 2015 from Palmettos and Pigtails And as for Lincoln, he was more interested in the fruit and cracker tray that was put out for breakfast than toys, but he lucked out with a bunch of new balls and a push mower from Santa!  The kiddos loved spending time with all of their grandparents, and we loved having a full house again!

My parents took the girls for a couple of days so that Dave and I could renovate the playroom {and make some much-needed room for dolls!}….it turned out beautifully, but I still have a few finishing touches to make on it before I can show it to you…that’s on my to-do list for this weekend.

On Tuesday, we swapped out the girls for Lincoln, and my parents whisked him away to FL while the girls, Dave and I made the trip out to the Smokies for New Year’s in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  We’ve visited Gatlinburg several times now, both as a family {before Millie was born!} and with friends {to ride the Polar Express!}…but nothing like this!Holiday Recap 2015 from Palmettos and PigtailsThirteen families from our neighborhood all rented one ginormous house and partied all weekend!  A total of 57 people in one house! We celebrated New Year’s together {at 8pm too for the little ones!}, watched Clemson rock the bowl game together, and spent time snow tubing and shopping together. Holiday Recap 2015 from Palmettos and PigtailsYou can see more highlights from our vacation if you check out {and follow me on} my instagram account.  Needless to say, it’s back to the real world now…the laundry is mountainous, the Christmas decorations are still up and I am still recovering from the late nights on vacation.  So, these have to take priority for the rest of the week while we get back to the grind.  And as for the first part of the year?  It might be a little slow for me here on the blog as I’m once again really going to concentrate on increasing inventory for Flowertown Festival and Etsy.  And since I’m doing some appliqué and embroidery now too, I’ve got my hands full!Holiday Recap 2015 from Palmettos and Pigtails

So hang with me this year, as I get back into routine.  Be sure to subscribe by email so you’ll know when I post, and follow me on Facebook and other social media to see more of my day to day life…it’s way easier to update that than write a whole post!  As for us, we wish you and your family a blessed 2016!!

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How to Entertain a Toddler on an Airplane

Recently, my sister Loo and I took Lincoln on a plane trip up to New Jersey.   It was his first time on an airplane, and we lucked out that the ride was a quick, 2 hour non-stop flight.  But being the over-prepared, Type-A mom that I am, I was prepared for the worst.  I thought I’d share with you the items that I brought in my carry-on diaper bag to entertain a toddler on an airplane.

How to Entertain a Toddler on an Airplane

First of all, the basics:

I had 4 diapers, wipes, Wet Ones {for his/my hands}, Clorox Wipes {for the airplane tray and other surfaces}, a disposable changing pad, 2 changes of clothes, and an assortment of diaper cream, lotion and sunscreen, all in trial sizes.  I also had zip-lock bags with different little snacks in each….spreading out the snack process as long as possible!  {I used baby goldfish, Cheerios, Puffs, dried apples, dried blue berries and mini club crackers}

I also brought a couple of our favorite board books {I brought 3, the above picture is just some of my favorites}.  I try to choose books that  have multiple ways of engagement.  For example, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is a repetitive favorite, but can also be a time-killer.  On each page, I can cover animal names, noises, and colors.  And Lincoln loves the last page with all of the animals on it….he makes it into a “point and find” game.  And the book can end up taking 5-7 minutes to read one time.  Another of his favorites is Little Blue Truck, which has an actual story to read, as well as detailed pictures to talk about and find animals in.  I also brought Lincoln’s Farm Friends, which is an I See Me! Book that I reviewed last year.  It features a photograph of “Farmer” Lincoln on each page and has a story, as well as opportunities to talk animals, colors, numbers, letters, etc.  It’s an easy one to drag out too, and Lincoln loves seeing his face in it!

I made this little I Spy bag for Lincoln’s Cowboy themed first birthday, but he is now just getting interested in it.  He like squishing the beads and looking at the little horses and boots and such inside.  I’m hoping to make a few more of these to start selling on Etsy…what do you think?

But my secret weapon is my treasure box of goodies!  I made it to entertain a toddler on an airplane, but I’ve just kept in in my diaper bag and it’s come in quite handy in restaurants and in doctors’ offices!

I have a couple of small toy animals, four blocks {just enough to stack, and with the letters of his name on them}, a car, some stickers, some Washi Tape, pom pom balls , and empty thread spools.  I used the thread spools because he likes playing with them at home, but the blocks really serve the same purpose for stacking and knocking over {and the blocks don’t roll!}.

And everything fits compactly in a empty Cottonelle Flushable Wipes Tub!

That particular brand of tub is important, because the fun of the pom poms is putting them into the tub through the rubber flaps.  This seriously entertained Lincoln on the plane for over 20 minutes….dump, stuff, repeat!

The washi tape was also a good distractor because it’s a light weight tape, which means its really easy to pull off or reposition.  I ripped off pieces and stuck one end to the tray.  Lincoln would pull them off, try to get the sticky part off of his fingers, and then push down the tape on something {or someone!} else!  And repeat.  I also packed the Felt Busy Book that I made for him, and the stickers were great to use and reuse on the empty pages in the back.

DIY Easy Felt Busy Book for Toddlers on an Airplane

And just like that, we were landing!  And my little kit entertained him the rest of our trip in restaurants and while visiting family.  It’s nice to know I have some tricks up my sleeve for when he gets antsy!

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