Family of Five

People keep asking me, “so how is it having three kids now?”

Newborn Shoot by Rachel Weber Photography - Palmettos and Pigtails

I bought the kids’ coordinating outfits from Red Pajamas on Etsy….aren’t they adorable?

And my answer is always, “Great!”  Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade it for the world {well…most days!}.  But we are still struggling to find our groove as a family of five.  All in all, juggling three kids is not much different than juggling two.  The biggest challenges are coordinating “get-out-the-door” time with “feeding-spitup-blowout-time” and teaching the girls to have patience while I deal with baby stuff.  We do a couple more loads of laundry each week now {thanks to Lincoln’s excessive spitting up}, and it’s admittedly a little harder to navigate grocery stores and crowded VBS hallways while lugging a heavy infant carrier too.  Thank goodness for my carrier tent and carrier cushion, which keep germ hands away from Lincoln, and saves my arm!

Newborn Shoot by Rachel Weber Photography - Palmettos and Pigtails

Overall, we are slowly starting to adjust.  Jayna is super helpful with holding, feeding, burping and diapering.  Millie is a little less enthusiastic about her brother, but still loves to kiss him and bring him pacifiers.  Maggie ignores him.  Dave has stepped up and is wonderful about nighttime feedings and dealing with the “girl drama” so I can get a break here and there.  Lincoln is a content baby, and really only cries when he needs something.  He eats every 2-3 hours, but after feeding and burping, I only have about an hour free in between.

Newborn Shoot by Rachel Weber Photography - Palmettos and PigtailsNewborn Shoot by Rachel Weber Photography - Palmettos and Pigtails

So admittedly, my house is a wreck.  I haven’t vacuumed in days.  I haven’t cooked in weeks {stay tuned for how I’m able to pull that off!}.  I have three goals per day.  Goal #1: Keep everyone alive.  Goal #2:  Attempt to keep my sanity.  Goal #3: Accomplish something. Anything.

I keep my expectations low each day, and so far, I haven’t really been disappointed!  Even if that means that some days my goal is to just empty the dishwasher.  Other days, my goal is to get a 20 minute nap.  Either way, as long as I accomplish it, I’m happy!

Newborn Shoot by Rachel Weber Photography - Palmettos and Pigtails

Meet my new family of five!

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All photos on this post were taken by our favorite family photographer, Rachel Weber Photography.  To see more of her work with my family, check out our pregnancy announcement photos, our fall family pics, and Millie’s newborn photo shoot.

Bonus points for you if you can find which of my kids is a model on Rachel’s Portfolio Page…

Four Generations

Y’all.  I can’t even tell you how busy we  have been around here lately.  It’s been C.R.A.Z.Y.  I feel like I haven’t slept in weeks!!  And you’ll have to bear with me in the next few weeks too, because there won’t be any slowing down for us anytime soon!

It all really started last weekend.  It’s kind of become a tradition that my parents come the first weekend of October.  And although it’s a week early, we celebrate my birthday {and sometimes even Loo’s November birthday too!}, and my mom, sister and I work the annual Kitchen Tour in town.  It’s terrible that we can’t take pictures of the homes because they are gorgeous!  We walk through about 10 historic homes in our towns, touring their living areas and kitchens and sampling foods, wines and desserts from local restaurants.  Then, the second half of the day, we volunteer as hostesses in the homes.  The houses are beautiful, and there is always some neat history to learn at each house too.  For example, this year the block of homes on the tour used to be where an old resort was back in the 1940′s…the house that we were stationed to work in was located where the resort swimming pool was.

And the best part about the weekend was that my grandparents were able to come up from Florida with my parents!  We hadn’t seen them in a while, and it’s always really neat to get all FOUR generations together!  Too bad we forgot to get an updated picture of all of us….the last one we did was back on one of our Maryland visits for Mother’s Day of 2012!

The closest we got this year was a giant family photo on the last night that Mom Mom, GP, Nana and PopPop were here:

I just love how close our family is {both emotionally and physically!}….its’ wonderful to see the girls growing up knowing so much of their family!  And the relationships that are growing between the girls and their GREAT grandparents are incredible.  We are so, so blessed.

The rest of my week was filled with preparations for friends visiting this past weekend, a baby shower, and taking care of Jayna and Dave {Jayna had the flu this week, and Dave burnt his arm on our smoker}.  But no one wants to see pictures of that, so enjoy these instead!

Stay tuned in the coming days for a sneak peek at the baby shower I threw, a tutorial on how to make some spooky Halloween barrettes, and a new wreath!

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Potty Training Around the Campfire {From the Archives}

In honor of our beginning attempts at potty-training Millie this week, and of camping-worthy weather, here’s a peek back into the archives on how we did potty training while camping!Potty Training While Camping from PalmettosandPigtails.com

So in September, we started thinking about potty-training.  We hadn’t previously thought about it, but then all of the sudden Jayna took an interest in accompanying us for every one of our restroom needs.  She was very interested.  So, we started the process….buying the miniature potty, stickers, books, yada yada.  We haven’t really pushed the issue, especially since I wasn’t sure how to potty train Jayna while still keeping my eyes on the ever-busy little boy I watch everyday.  So we stalled.  Until last week.  Because of Thanksgiving, I was relieved of my babysitting duties from Wednesday through Sunday, so I thought, “This, is the perfect time!.”  So from then on, every 30 minutes we potty-trained.  It was going very well, until Dave and I decided to go camping.

Yes, camping.  Yes, potty training while camping.  And no, contrary to (Dave’s) opinion, I am not crazy.  We packed up the car and drove to Santee State Park where we pitched our tent, lit a campfire, fished, and pottied in the back of the truck every 30 minutes!!!  It actually was great, other than being a tad cold (30 degrees that night!!).  It was the perfect setting to do all things potty….there were no distractions and any activities we wanted to do (i.e. fishing, playgrounding, campfiring, stick-finding), could be accomplished within that 30 minute time frame before the timer went off.  So, all in all, I would highly recommend the Potty Training While Camping Method!Potty Training While Camping from PalmettosandPigtails.comPotty Training While Camping from PalmettosandPigtails.comPotty Training While Camping from PalmettosandPigtails.comPotty Training While Camping from PalmettosandPigtails.comYes, here she is on the potty in the back of the truck!  You just need a timer, a potty, some blankets {for privacy!}, a few books and snacks, and LOTS of spare clothes!!Potty Training While Camping from PalmettosandPigtails.comProud Girl!!Potty Training While Camping from PalmettosandPigtails.comHave you potty trained in a creative way?  I need more ideas now that Millie is ready!  Leave me a comment!

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Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day!  Hopefully reading this post is just a quick break from your day of surprises and appreciation from your hubby and kids!  Or maybe you are celebrating your own mom today.  Either way, enjoy your day!DSC_1129Palmettos and Pigtails

Let’s Go Fly a Kite!

Today we are headed back to the Lowcountry from a wonderful week up in Maryland.  Not only did we get to see lots of family (think aunts from Maine and cousins from China!) and celebrate Easter in my home church, we also got to fly kites!Sorry for the blurry pictures!  1 camera phone + 3 sqirmy girls = terrible quality photosThe Cherry Blossom Festival is in full swing in Washington, D.C. and this weekend’s celebration was the Kite Festival by the National Monument.  Thousands of people gathered to picnic, fly kites, and compete in various kite contests.Kites in D.C. We mostly just enjoyed the mild weather and being together…..and attempting to just get our kites up off the ground!!Millie pretty much spent the entire day cozying up to whoever had the best snacks….GP and Dave seemed to spend the entire time untangling string…..And Cousin Wouter was the resident expert, teaching Jayna (and some strangers around us!) how it’s done in China!Finally, the girls figured out that it was just as much fun to physically run the kites around as it was to get them up in the air!!Who needs string, anyway?!?!

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Gator Huntin’ at Cypress Gardens

We were lucky enough to have Mom Mom come visit us for a long weekend.  Now, there isn’t much around here she hasn’t done with us.  That’s one of the things I love about the Lowcountry is there is a TON of things to do!  So, even though we have taken her out before, we decided to head out to Cypress Gardens for the day on Saturday.  Even though the temperature had dropped back down to the 50′s (last week they were in the 80′s!), we bundled up and packed a picnic lunch.We love Cypress Gardens.  And I’m not even getting paid to say that!  Although its a bit of a drive out there, they have a ton to do for the whole family.  They have an aquarium with fish, crocodiles, turtles and snakes, and an outdoor pen with some VERY large alligators.  Jayna’s favorite part of Cypress Gardens is the butterfly garden.  And on Saturday, they had cute little birds (full sized, supposedly) wandering around too!We had a picnic lunch and listened to the bluegrass music.  Jayna was fascinated by the lady playing the “bass” bucket!Obviously Cypress Gardens is named for all of the Cypress trees there.  They grow in the swamp, and their roots and “knees” stick out of the water and the soft land.  It’s just beautiful.  Jayna says that the Cypress “knees” remind her of the stalagmites that we saw in Luray Caverns.But my favorite part of Cypress Gardens is the swamp boat tours.  You can pay to get a guided one, but we prefer to paddle ourselves for free!  (Mommy disclaimer: Yes, I know I have Amelia in the carrier backwards….but I figured she would be happier and less squirmy in the carrier facing out, so she could see.  I was wrong though….she wanted out altogether, and screamed for the entire boat ride!)Every time we’ve been there we’ve managed to see at least a couple of gators in the swamp.  We’ve gotten really good at spotting them amongst the logs, lily pads and Cypress Knees.But, thanks to Amelia’s wailing, this was the only gator we saw this time!signature

{Walt Disney World} A Mom with A Plan.

Did I tell you our exciting news?  We are going to Disney World!  Along with everyone else we know.  Not really {just Bets and Jay}, but seriously all of our friends are also going at some point this year.  Now that our kids are 4 and old enough to get excited, it’s about that time!

So when we first decided to do a Disney Vacation with Bets and Jay, I bombarded my Pinterest Boards with any Disney-related posts I could find.  And there are. a. lot.

This mom shares her plan for her family's budget-friendly trip to Disney, complete with hotel, eating and entertainment. Palmettos and Pigtails {Walt Disney World} A Mom with A Plan. #disneyworldWhere to Stay:

I went back and forth about whether to stay on-sight, rent a house, or try to do a time-share.  The pros and cons for each were overwhelming.  You can only do the Disney Meal Plan if you stay onsight.  You can catch a shuttle to the parks for free if you stay on site.  But, it’s waaaaaaay cheaper to rent a house (and you’ll get your own pool that way!).  Time shares seemed the obvious happy medium, with their multiple theme pools, transportation to parks, and eat-in kitchens.  But they were still pretty expensive.  And then my friend Joanna filled me in on Farrell’s Vacation Rentals.  Farrell is just a guy who personally owns a bunch of timeshares, and he’ll rent them to you for much less than the actual resorts. So, we ended up booking a two bedroom condo at the Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort {complete with Disney shuttle and lazy river!!} for $109 a night.  Not bad!Next order of business: Food.

Top of the List? Disney Princess Character Breakfast!  We’d heard from multiple friends to skip the Cinderella Castle meals and head to Epcot’s Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, where Belle, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Jasmine and Mary Poppins dine.  I found all of the menu items, pricing and other options here.  Considering Dave and I will be continuing our Biggest Loser Lifestyle, we figure that we will try to eat in our hotel as much as possible, and pack healthy snacks and lunches for the parks {since I found out you can bring food and drinks into the park!}.Final step: Entertainment

We will be in Orlando for 7 days, so we are still debating whether to get a 3 or 4 day park-hopper pass….hoping to go to a park every other day.  Our resort has plenty for us to do on the off days, plus Betsy and Jay will be staying over at the campground, which will have lots of entertainment there too.  We budgeted for full price tickets, but I’ve found a couple of sites with discount tickets {I’d share them with you, but I’m not sure if they are legit yet…I’ll keep you posted}.  Our plan is to get to each park before it opens at 9 {a little birdie told me that sometimes the characters come out to hang while you are waiting for the park to open!}, eat a packed lunch there and just go for as long as the kids can hang.  Then we’ll head back to the hotel in the late afternoon for naps and dinner.  I’m hoping I can convince Bets to swap off kids for a couple of the nights so we each can grab a date night with our hubby in Downtown Disney!

I’ve got lots more Disney coming at you in the near future, including packing lists, our activities around the house to get excited, and some secret tips I found!  In the meantime, PLEASE feel free to leave any tips or advice in the comments!

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Check out my other Disney-related posts! Click Below:

Secrets of the Kingdom: A Collection of Walt Disney World Tips

Secrets of the Kingdom: A Collection of Walt Disney World Tips

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!  I’m taking a few days off {away from the computer} to celebrate the holidays with my family!  See you next week!

From Tennessee: With Love

We are not really spontaneous people.  We are planners.  We like to map out routes, book hotels and do as much internet research as possible.  But not this time!  We decided to take our Thanksgiving and hit the road with it….all the way to Nashville, Tennessee.  Other than booking hotels (for the Marriott points, of course!), we did not really have a plan.  The “plan” was to drive around exploring Middle Tennessee between Nashville and Knoxville.

Our journey started out in Nashville, where we spent two glorious nights in the Gaylord Opryland Hotel.  You may remember me gushing about it when I was there last February for my Blissdom Conference.

The girls loved walking around in the hotel.  They even had some wintery old-fashioned rides set up in one of the expo halls.

 

While in Nashville, we checked out the super-cute towns of Springfield, Gallatin and Franklin.  Then we headed to Murfreesboro.  The girls needed a break, so we found a replica village of when Murfreesboro used to be the town of Cannonsburgh.  Jayna was in awe of the small, one-roomed houses, the antiques and the outhouse!

 Then we spent the night in the sweet town of Cookeville.  The people were SO nice there….Southern Hospitality at its best!  We had a great dinner at a little place called Crawdaddy’s, and then shopped the next day.  Jayna loved checking out the railroad museum!

 

We spent the next night in Knoxville and then headed home!  This year, I was so thankful to be able to spend some quality time with my family for a few days!

A Night at the Fair

 
With the arrival of Fall in the Lowcountry comes cooler temperatures (as in 80′s instead of 90′s!) and the Coastal Carolina Fair!
 
 
  I’m not sure what it is that makes the Fair so anticipatory for me.  Maybe it’s the fact that growing up, I was never allowed to ride Fair rides. Maybe it’s because the Fair always comes the week of Halloween.  Maybe it’s the characters that come out of the woodwork to attend! 
 
 
 This was the first year that Jayna was really big enough to ride the rides.  And it’s a good thing we got her a handstamp for unlimited riding, because she wanted to try everything!
 
 
While we waited for Loo Loo to arrive from work, we walked around to the “big kid” rides.  Jayna was very intrigued (and a little concerned) about the rides that went upside down.  Usually it’s Daddy’s job to win the stuffed animals….but this year Jayna wanted to play.  She was ecstatic when she popped two balloons and won a stuffed bear!
 
 
Millie was pretty content to sit in the stroller and people watch.  But toward the end of the night, she wanted to ride too!
 
 
And the farm animals never cease to be a favorite.  We especially loved the rabbits (and their names!) this year…they had several out to pet, and a demonstration of how they make yarn.
 
 
And I so should have taken a picture (but didn’t of course) of the deep-fried Oreos that we had!  Delish.  And I kind of wish we hadn’t tried them because now I’m going to want one {or three} every year!