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Avoiding The Holiday Rush

Avoiding the holiday rush - enjoying Christmas - Jenn Elwell

The months of November and December are a whirlwind for mothers. They consist of not only holiday shopping but school programs, Bible study celebrations, holiday parties, and family gatherings. As a mom our days of celebrating this special time with our children can fly by without a second look from us as we are consumed by our list of tasks. But with three simple changes we can better manage our time during this season so that we don’t rush through it, but get to savor and enjoy the time with our family.

Tip 1: Say no to what is not important

There is only so much time to give and especially during the holidays its important to clarify what is a “must do” versus what is a “nice to do.” Do not feel bad saying no to engagements, events, or other activities that are not important to you. Something that is important to someone else might not be important to your right now and that is fine. Do not agree to help with something just because you think it is the right thing to do. Stay confident in your decision about your priorities and eliminate all the other extras that don’t contribute to the success of those priorities. And remember that what is important to others may not be important to you and vice versa. Set your own value of importance and do not be ashamed to stay true to it.

Tip 2: Schedule in time to relax or spend time with your family

It is a sad fact but often our families receive the last of our attention. During the holiday season especially this is tragic and something that we definitely do not want to happen. In order to make sure that this does not happen, we can schedule our family time before we commit to any other activities. Then we when look at our calendar or planner to say that we will attend another gathering, we will see that we already have family time planned and will keep that time set apart for those who we hold most dear.

Tip 3: Get as much done beforehand as you can

There is a lot that can be done before the holiday rush begins. Christmas cards, baking, teacher gifts, and gift buying are all tasks that can be relegated to November or earlier to free up your time in December to enjoy the things that you hold most important. Bake early and freeze the treats. Use a picture from your summer vacation for your Christmas card and keep a running spreadsheet of addresses to ease the time consuming task of address gathering each year. By planning ahead we can remove items from our to-do list before our time gets even more overcome with last minute plans.


MyPapa’s #writeyourlove #tbt

Tales of a Peanut #writeyourlove #tbt Gramme and Papa

Written words can convey so much with so little. If the text is heavy and bold, the writer was angry. If the text is loose and soft, it was written with joy and hope. With a few scratches of the pen we share our emotions and love for everyone to read.

Our handwriting is also intensely personal and unique to each of us. I can always recognize MyPapa’s handwriting with just a glance. It’s so distinctive and I’m thankful that I have lots of samples of it because he was really great at writing notes. This week’s #writeyourlove #tbt is a letter that my grandparents sent me when I was in college. They used to take the time to handwrite me little notes. My grandmother would share details about her days — the apple pie she just baked, how my cousin was enjoying dance — and my grandfather would slip in a piece of paper with some quotes that he thought would be applicable to my days. Simple acts that meant so much to receive them.

My grandfather would always end his letters with the text “Love you” and more often than not the text read “Love You Every Day”. Because that was “his thing” and his handwriting was so unique to him and because we lost him four years ago, I decided to try my hand at vectorizing this summer to create a special gift for my mom’s birthday.

WriteYourLove Custom - Tales of a Peanut

I was able to take the text that he wrote me on a card and turn it into a vector image and get gold foil prints printed of it. It’s extremely simple in look but pricks my heart and gives me all the feels every time I see it. There were, of course, tears when I gave my mom her present and it’s now sitting in her kitchen for her to remind her how much her dad loved her every day.

Since this was so meaningful for my family, I decided that I wanted to share the experience with others as well. Today I’m launching another part of my #writeyourlove collection by offering you the same service that I provided my mom. What better time to announce it than with a throw back to one of the letters that gave me the idea.

WriteYourLove Sunshine Flat - Tales of a Peanut

Starting today, you can go to the shop and purchase a gold foil print from your handwriting or the handwriting of someone that you love. You simply upload a picture of the text that you want on your print and then checkout. I will then vectorize your writing into a usable form and create a gold foil print from it. You can take a picture of something that you have from the past or write something new. The picture above is something that I had my six year old write last weekend as an example. This is a great gift for those mourning or just as another piece of writing down your legacy for those in your life.

We could all use a little more love in your life, so why don’t you write your love down today!

Tell me, if you want a print like this around your home, what would you want on it? Something that you wrote or something that someone else wrote to you?

Family, Throw Back Thursday, WriteYourLove

Dad’s #writeyourlove #tbt

I love my Dad. I think that’s been well documented (like here, here, and here) on this blog but today I’m sharing something special…his handwriting.

Tales of a Peanut #writeyourlove #tbt Dad

Now, I’m not telling you that my Dad wrote me letters all the time, but on occasion he did, especially when I was out of town. And in college I went and interned in the Senate for a month and spent about six weeks in Washington, DC. During that time Dad wrote me a few notes like this one. It’s short and quick and on company letterhead, but it’s in my Dad’s handwriting and I still have it all these years later.

Dad and Jenn 1985

Even when someone is still with you, like my Dad, having a piece of them in their handwriting means so much. Thinking about my dad taking time out of his ridiculously busy workday to write a note to me like that just reminds me how deep his love for me is. I’ll treasure notes like that and pictures like the one above forever.

Do you have any handwritten notes from your parents? What do you think about when you look at them? Please share them with me on instagram using the hashtag #writeyourlove! I might just share your post with my followers!

Family, Throw Back Thursday, WriteYourLove

Granny’s #writeyourlove #tbt

Today over on instagram I’m starting a new #tbt (Throw Back Thursday) series showing examples of handwritten letters that I’ve received in the past. I have always loved stationery and handwritten letters and I want to share some with you and tell you about why they are so important to me.

Tales of a Peanut #writeyourlove #tbt Granny

I’m starting this series with a Valentine’s note sent by my great-grandmother, Granny. Granny passed away when I was a freshman in high school so I still have vivid memories about my time spent with her. She lived in Jackson, Tennessee and we would travel up to her and Gramps’ house occasionally. I credit her with passing down her creative genes to me because she was always crafting something. Whether it was a wooden block nativity and Christmas ornaments or her own flower pressed notecards, she was always working on crafting projects.

Granny with great-grandchildren

Granny loved her family and was very good at writing notes. This example shows that even just adding your own signature and a short line on something that is typed or pre-printed means a lot. I know that I wouldn’t have kept this random poem if it didn’t have Granny’s sweet note to “Be My Valentine! Granny” on it. But as it is it’s lasted for decades now and I have no intention on letting it go anytime soon.

Tales of a Peanut #writeyourlove #tbt Granny2

I can just imagine her sitting at her typewriter, typing out this poem and signing it with her own unique scrawl. If you showed me just the message without her name I could still tell you that it was Granny who wrote this. Handwriting is so special and extremely unique to each and every person which is one reason that it is so precious.

Do you have any handwritten heirlooms that you treasure? I’d love to see them! Share them on instagram with the #writeyourlove hashtag and I might share it on my feed or on my blog!

Family, Handwritten Heritage, WriteYourLove

#WriteYourLove Challenge – Day 4

Handwritten Heritage Instagram Challenge Tales of a Peanut

Well, we’re halfway through with the #writeyourlove challenge and I’m really enjoying getting to know everyone participating and seeing them write to their families and friends. I was on my way back from vacation yesterday and so didn’t get a blog post up about my prompt, but yesterday’s prompt was who was receiving your letters. I am writing some to a number of different people, but I’m writing the most letters to these three who have my heart.

WriteYourLove - Tales of a Peanut

Today’s prompt is to show your handwriting. It is so neat to me that everyone’s handwriting looks different. It is so unique to all of us and, therefore, we should treasure it. But, if you’re anything like me, you might not like your handwriting very much. But when I look at it from my children’s perspective, or my friends, I know that I treasure everything with my Mom’s handwriting on it and think it’s beautiful, even if she might not agree! So here’s my handwriting on a letter that I wrote to James about the songs that we sing together at bedtime.

Handwriting - WriteYourLove - Tales of a Peanut


So tell me, what do you think of your handwriting? Love it? Hate it? What about your loved ones — does their handwriting give you warm fuzzies? Tell me about it!


First Year Months, Hadley

One Whole Year


Happy Birthday Sweet Hadley Girl!

It is near impossible to believe that you are on year old, but every time I look at you I am reminded that you are. This year has flown by and I absolutely adore this one year old stage that we’re in!

You are super sweet and love to lay your head down on my shoulder when I ask you to give me a hug. You like to be held more than anything which works out well for all of the times that you’re waiting on Sissy to finish an activity and I’m holding you.

You love your Daddy! As soon as you hear the door open you crawl as fast as you can back to him and then sit up on your knees with your arms up for him to pick you up. When he goes to wash his hands first you start wailing until he picks you up.

You also love Charlotte and James. You really want to be right there in the fun with them and will crawl up to them and try and read books with them or lay with them when they’re watching tv. They take good care of you and keep an eye out for you so that you’ll stay out of trouble.

Even though it seems like you want to run around with them, you have no desire to start walking! You won’t even really stand up without holding on to something and don’t like taking steps with us holding your hands although you will if we insist. You will stand between Charlotte and James for a quick picture holding their hands but those times are very limited and very, very short!

You’re somewhere between being a good eater and a bad one. You still eat baby food great but love to pick up a cheerio and stick it in your mouth between baby food bites thus getting you even messier. You will eat crackers and goldfish and baby food snacks (puffs, yogurt melts, etc) but don’t even like pieces of bread or muffin. You made a hilariously not amused face the first time I gave you a sippy with whole milk in it but you have adjusted and drink it like a champ now. I’m almost finished weaning you and you’ve done really well with it.

You talk constantly but not really anything that we can identify. When you want more food you usually just yell or squeal when we ask you if you want more. And when you’re not happy with something you stick that lip out and squeeze up your eyes and let out a pitiful wail. With two older siblings you are getting knocked around more than they did and you’re pretty tough but occasionally a foot to the belly or them dumping you out of their lap will really hurt your feelings. You do bounce back quickly though!

You’re wearing 12 month clothes and size 3 diapers. The clothes are sometimes still big on you but most fit great. I think I’m going to move you up to size 4 diapers soon though due to an abundance of leaks lately. I have no idea how much you weigh and moved your checkup back until June so that I could go on Charlotte’s last field trip of the year (sorry!). You look tiny when you’re just in your diaper but look pretty normal when you’re dressed. Your brother and sister were petite too so I think it just comes natural.

You are still a great sleeper even if you do sometimes play for the majority of a nap time these days. We’re sticking with two naps a day for a while but you do fine when you have to skip one of them for church or an event. And you wake up pretty early in the morning (between 5:30 and 6) but are content just to hang out in your bed and doze until I come and get you at 7.

We love you so much precious girl! You are a gift from God that we didn’t even know that we were missing. I am so glad that he has allowed me to be your Mom. Happy Birthday!

I love you every second, of every minute, of every day.