Sunday Scripture: Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope your week has been full of family, laughter, peace and turkey!  We have had an unbelievably busy few weeks {and they will continue into December!}, including traveling to the Gulf Coast of Florida for Thanksgiving with my in-laws.  And although it was a process getting there {both physically and logistically}, the few days of rest were just what we needed.

We are so blessed with our life, sometimes we just need to have a few days of *nothing* to really appreciate it!  Here’s to you and yours!

Sunday Scripture: Thankful

This week’s Sunday Scripture is originally from Moms by Heart.  Head over there to see what today’s free printable is!

Have a blessed week!

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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!!

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… 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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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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Merry Christmas 2014

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!  Here is the Christmas card that I finally decided to go with from…it wasn’t one of the ones I showed you originally, but I’m super pleased with it!

Merry Christmas from Palmettos and Pigtails 2014

And now I’m off to spend the rest of this year with my family!  We have folks coming from all over the South to celebrate with us, and it’s the highlight of my year being surrounded by family!  I wish you and yours the happiest and healthiest holiday season!  See you next year!

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A Minted Christmas Card – A Vote

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

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

Blog Christmas Card

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

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

Choice #1: Year in a Nutshell

Year in a Nutshell Photo Card from

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

Choice #2: Love Tree

Love Tree Christmas Card from

Choice #3: Very Merry Flourish

Very Merry Flourish Christmas Card by

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

Choice #4: Bright Days

Bright Days Christmas Card by

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

Choice #5: Heart, Halo, Hooray!

Heart, Halo, Hooray! Christmas Card by

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

Which one do you think I should choose?

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

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Stay-at-Home Mom: A How-To Guide

I am so very blessed to be able to stay at home with my three kiddos.  And although I loved my job before having kiddos, and completely respect those hard working moms who work outside of the home….I wouldn’t trade my life now for anything.  I have a couple of friends who are, for the first time, now able to stay at home with their kids too, and so I thought I’d give a few tips on how to gracefully make the transition.

Be A Stay-at-Home Mom: A How-To Guide {Tips and Tricks for transitioning from the workplace to staying at home with your kids} - Palmettos and Pigtails

My husband’s advice: stock up on BonBons and Soap Operas.  He jokes around about me sitting on my butt all day, but he knows perfectly well how hard of a job it is to be a stay-at home mom.  And I love to remind him of it on the weekends, by leaving him with all three kids for a couple of hours!

I recently ran across this article on Babble about how being a stay-at-home mom is actually a luxury for your spouse.  I saved it because I find that it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you aren’t doing enough.  As a working mom, you stayed busy with non-household related tasks for 8-10 hours a day before coming home to your family…and now, your primary job is family and household.  And now, in the days of Facebook, Pinterest, oversharing and helicopter parenting…it’s easy to feel guilty about not having a pristine house, themed lunches, and crafty playdates.  Not to mention, a healthy homemade dinner on the table every night.  Sorry, but that’s just not realistic!

Be A Stay-at-Home Mom: A How-To Guide

You may be a Super Mom, but you are still human, and dealing with some very unstable little people who will throw a kink in any plans you make.  So underestimate the amount of “stuff” you’ll get done in a day, and you won’t disappoint yourself.

Be A Stay-at-Home Mom: A How-To Guide

Talk to your spouse about your changing roles in the household.  Establish what “jobs” you will take over, and what he’ll be in charge of.  Dave and I have kind of figured it out by trial and error, but I really wish we had done this.  A specific sit-down chat to determine each other’s expectations of the other will put everything on the table, and hopefully prevent misunderstandings and resentment in the future.

Next, establish a daily/weekly routine.  If you don’t create some sort of organization to your time, you’ll go crazy.  Start simple, day by day.  Personally, I do one major chore a day.  Monday is laundry day, Tuesday is vacuuming, Wednesday is grocery shopping, Thursday is decluttering, and Friday is bathrooms.  So, if I am able to get everybody up, dressed and fed, and do that one chore….I feel like my day has been a success!  I also try to do as many of the Cleaning Calendar chores that I can…not always in order, and some days I am able to do more than one, other days I can’t do any.  My schedule often loosely looks something like this:

5:00 – change and feed the baby
5:30 – shower and get dressed {even if it is just yoga pants!}
6:00 – get Jayna ready for school and Millie ready for the day
6:30 – put Jayna on the bus and eat breakfast with Millie
7:00 – while Millie plays, change and feed the baby, put him back down for morning nap
7:30 – check email and clean up kitchen
8:00 – do daily chore somewhere in here, while Millie is playing and baby is sleeping
8:30 – play or do some sort of project/cooking with Millie
9:30 – change baby, play on the floor with him
10:00 feed Millie a snack
10:30 take the kids out for a bike ride/walk
11:00 while Millie plays, change and feed baby, put him down for lunch nap
12:00 feed Millie lunch
12:30 put Millie down for a nap, change the baby, grab a bite to eat, clean up the kitchen
1:00 blog or sew while baby plays in exersaucer
2:00 finish daily chore if needed and do a cleaning calendar chore
2:45 get Jayna off the bus and get her unpacked and settled in for quiet reading
3:00 change and feed the baby, put him down for afternoon nap, Millie wakes…play with girls
4:00 while girls play together, start prepping dinner, check email
5:30 dinner on the table

It’s funny, as I write this, it seems like there is so much time in the day.  Up until now, I’ve never written down my “schedule.”  In fact, it took me quite a while to think about what I actually do on a daily basis.  So when I wrote down the minimum things in my day, there seems like so many gaps.  But then fill those gaps with potty breaks, tantrums, tying shoes, tears, hugs, time-outs, fussiness, tea parties, lap sitting, boo boos, reading books, etc.  No wonder I don’t get more done!

Be A Stay-at-Home Mom: A How-To Guide

Some of the ways I keep organized, are by planning out my meals.  I do this in a variety of ways, from preparing freezer meals ahead of time, to participating in the eMeals program {and letting them do all the meal planning for me!}.  Either way, I use a Weekly Meal Planner worksheet to get a visual of what I’ve planned for the week, which also helps Dave on the nights that I need him to start dinner for me.

Another important thing to remember is that although it’s important {and your job now!} to spend more time with your kids, don’t feel like it all has to be structured.  As a former teacher and a mommy-blogger, it’s second nature to me to want to have a project, craft or game ready for the kids at all times.  But you have to remember that by having structured activities or even excursions {think zoo, children’s museum, etc.} all the time will create expectations and dependency from your kids.  It’s good for them to play alone or with each other.  It’s beneficial for them to learn to leave you alone sometimes.  And it’s a valuable skill that you may need to teach them, since they will be SO EXCITED to have you at home with them.  All. of. the. time.  I try to balance structured activities {from simple painting to complex slime recipes and scavenger hunts} with free play, and adding the occasional “field trip” excursion about twice a month.  {And the grocery store counts as an excursion, right?!?!}

Be A Stay-at-Home Mom: A How-To Guide

And my final thought is, don’t feel guilty about taking some “me” time.  Whether it’s in the evenings or weekends, when your spouse can take over for a bit, or during nap time, make sure it happens.  It’s easy to get so wrapped up in daily duties and childcare that you forget to take care of yourself.  And if you are stressed out, tired or burned out, you can’t be a good mom or wife.  So don’t feel guilty about that hour on Facebook or Pinterest…I guarantee your working friends and spouses spend at least an hour during the day surfing the internet!

Be A Stay-at-Home Mom: A How-To Guide

And last but not least, enjoy!  Your kids will grow up.  That temper tantrum will only last about three minutes.  That snuggle on the couch will be fleeting.  Soak these kiddie moments up, because there will always be dishes!

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Summer Recap 2014

It’s official….the summer has yet again, flown by!  So today I thought I’d give you a quick recap of our summer in pictures!

Summer 2014 Recap from Palmettos and Pigtails

Millie graduated with honors from the 2 year old class at her pre-school…mastering the potty, recognizing the letters in her name, and making silly faces instead of smiling.  Jayna aced the 4 year old class and bittersweetly moved on to kindergarten.  She is reading chapter books, writing letters and riding her bike!

Summer 2014 Recap from Palmettos and Pigtails

Did I mention that we had a baby?  Lincoln Christopher joined us in mid-May and is rounding into his fourth month already!

Summer 2014 Recap from Palmettos and Pigtails

He is a completely chill baby who will smile at just about anyone!

Summer 2014 Recap from Palmettos and Pigtails

The girls had a whole lot of Loo Loo time while I bonded with Lincoln.

Caution Tape Construction Wreath for Vacation Bible School Decor from Palmettos and Pigtails

Both girls got to experience a couple of Vacation Bible School sessions over the summer.  Although I couldn’t volunteer during the sessions this year, I was able to help out with decorating for the “Workshop of Wonders” construction theme.

Summer 2014 Recap from Palmettos and Pigtails

Summer 2014 Recap from Palmettos and Pigtails

Our summer was filled with neighborhood gatherings, from a festive 4th of July parade and fireworks show, to a laid back Bluegrass and BBQ festival.  There were also less formal occasions, as our closest neighbors shared meals, childcare and old-fashioned fun!

Summer 2014 Recap from Palmettos and Pigtails

We were able to get up to Montreat again this year, to catch up with our best friends and reminisce a little about my summers there.  And last weekend, we were SO excited to welcome our newest God-daughter, Penny!  Lulabelle and Ro will be such great big sisters!

Summer 2014 Recap from Palmettos and Pigtails

Summer 2014 Recap from Palmettos and Pigtails

We had lots of visitors…including Great-Grandparents on both sides of the family!  I’m so proud and thankful that my kids know their Greats so well!

Summer 2014 Recap from Palmettos and Pigtails

We also traveled around the state of Florida to visit the grandparents in St. Augustine and St. George Island.  The girls had lots of beach days and lots of day trips!

Summer 2014 Recap from Palmettos and Pigtails

I was hoping that we’d have a nice relaxing summer…you’d think that would be easy with a newborn, right?  Not for this busy family!  We were just as active as ever, but had a wonderful summer!

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From Florida with Love: Saint Augustine

Our last stop in our roundabout tour of Florida {to visit the grandparents}, was to the quaint old town of Saint Augustine, just south of Jacksonville.

Recap of our Florida Vacation from Palmettos and  Pigtails

We obviously needed a break from all of that relaxing in Saint George Island….so we packed as much as we could into this trip!  Every day was a new adventure.

First up was a quick {and hot!} tour of the Castillo de San Marcos.  Otherwise known by my girls as “The Fort.”  MomMom and GP took the girls here when they visited in the spring….and the firing of the cannons was all they talked about for days after their little vacation!  Millie loves shouting, “Cover your ears!”  We also ran into a few pirates who wander the town on a daily basis.  This guy happened to be a “good guy,” offering to pose for a picture and giving the girls Gold Doubloons {aka pirate booty}.

One evening, we headed into town to find out that the evening concert that we’d been headed to, had been canceled.  But the night was saved when we ran into this pack of princesses, who were participating in a photo shoot.  We did nothing less than stalk them for an hour, posing for pictures and borrowing their props {Ariel even had a Dinglehopper!}.

Right up the road from MomMom and GP’s house is the Saint Augustine Alligator Farm.  It’s a zoo that has at least one of every type of alligator and crocodile in the world.  Not to mention the hundreds of alligators that we were able to help feed in the massive pond there.  As we walked across the boardwalk that spanned the pond, the alligators were literally climbing all over each other to get to the “Gator Nuggets” we were throwing to them.  But the highlight of the girls’ day was the unexpectedly social Komodo Dragons!

On the hottest day of the week, we took advantage of the half price offerings of the Jacksonville Zoo due to the high temperatures.  We actually lucked out, because thanks to a few rainstorms, in never got too hot…but there were no crowds either!  Jayna and Millie  got to actually touch the sting rays {which was exciting because they had seen a few in the water in SGI}, and they had an amazing tiger habitat that let the animals travel through multiple exhibits.

But my favorite part, was seeing family! My grandparents and my aunt came to visit from Ft. Myers and Atlanta to meet Lincoln and spend some time with the girls.  The girls are so blessed to have such wonderful relationships with all five of their great grandparents!  And Lincoln turned out to be a complete Great-Grandma’s boy!

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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…