Thursday, January 31, 2013

Finding The Thankfulness

For far too long I went to God with the why me, why now prayers. This was at a time I was leaving work in tears as my workplace environment was crumbling. It took me many days of tears to work up the courage to put myself out there professionally.

And now, I find myself going to work each day intrigued by the day's prospects. Sure I'm living on coffee, sure I spent nine hours yesterday tacking down a six-year-old letter and dealt with people losing their minds but I was respected by my bosses each and every second of the day.

Not long after starting this job, a friend shared a devotional with me and I realized that going to God with the why me's wasn't going to cut it. I wasn't going to get anywhere praying in that manner.

via
I've learned, no matter the circumstance, find the thankfulness in every moment. Then, take that thankfulness back to Him. The rewards of this thankfulness are abundant; this is certain. 

So, today when that person who I've left five messages for still doesn't return my call, when the copier jams on page 255 of my project, when we inevitably run out of creamer in the morning, I'll be thankful for the intelligence to find a way around that woman who won't call me, a co-worker who is a pro at fixing the copier, and some hidden creamer in the back of the fridge.

I'll be thankful

Take a little moment today, one of those not-good ones, and find the thankful. I promise it's there.

Short Stack Jack {Giveaway}

Welcome to the next Giveaway in the Celebrating the New Year Event, brought to you by me {It's a Vol!} and Erin {The View from 510}!
   

You know that awkward moment when you put your kid in his or her car seat and then you have to root around underneath to find the stupid straps for the car seat? You know how frustrating it is and how much it really doesn't make your baby a happy camper?

Well, fear not friends. There is a solution.

Meet the Carseat Sidekick (aka the solution).


Using powerful magnets and a bit of creativity the Short Stack Jack team came up with the idea of how to keep the straps from falling down into the child's seat. while still keeping them handy for mom and dad to easily strap baby in.  

The Carseat Sidekick is compatible with all major car seat brands (bucket seats only). The magnetic strips wrap around the carseat straps while the kettle bell magnet attaches to the handle of the bucket seat. When you take little miss or mister out simply place the strip and the kettle bell near each other and voila! You are done and ready for easy baby installation next time you need the car seat!


{Photo Courtesy of Short Stack Jack!}

Plus the car seat sidekick comes in three super cute patterns and colors! We chose orange (because duh, VOLS!) and it is so cute!

The best part is you can have one for yourself!

BUY: Shop at Short Stack Jack use code VOL20 for 20% off!

WIN: The folks at Short Stack Jack are generously giving one of a readers their very own Carseat Sidekick! Hooray!

HOW TO ENTER: This is a Rafflecopter giveaway! The first two entries are mandatory, once you complete them the rest will unlock. You do not have to complete the rest but I highly suggest doing so in order to maximize your chances of winning! GOOD LUCK!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


*I was not compensated for this post. I was given a product for review in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Jackson: A Very Much Over-Due Update

I've been blatantly ignoring Jackson's milestones lately. 20 months? 21 months? 22 months?! Gasp. It's really happened. Thanks to my best friend's reminders of Jackson's quickly approaching birthday, I've decided to face the facts.  My baby is not-so baby.

We are so close to the second birthday milestone I can taste it. In fact, I'll be tasting a yummy lunch with a friend today to plan Jackson's joint birthday party. Sigh. Since I can't stop time, I guess I'll take advantage of this space and get back to the root of this blog.

Jackson. His milestones. His developments. His growth. His love.


When a tiny voice came over the phone pronouncing "Hi, Daddy. Hi, Mommy." as we talked to Grammie while out of town the other weekend, my heart lost a bit of itself. I had to stop my MIL's jabbering to ask if that was really Jackson on the phone. Certainly, that little boy's voice could not have been my baby! But alas, it was.


I sit here searching for updated photos of this shaggy-haired 22-month old, but the only time my real camera made an appearance this month was our trip to the farm.

My camera has been tucked away lately as I've held this ever-growing boy tightly in my arms. I cannot get enough of his laughter, his words, his scent. Everything has been so much sweeter lately. Perhaps it's because the toddler tantrums are running ramped in this house. This makes those hugs and kisses infinitely more meaningful. 

Our documenting of late can be found mainly on the iPhone. How thankful I've been for this bit of technology the past few weeks! We go from bedtime cuddles to running through Lowe's in a blink of an eye. That's a bit how all of life has felt lately, in fact. I've blinked and the baby that once lived within these walls is now a little boy.


In the name of a classic monthly update, we're going to break this down as though you were still a teeny little baby...

Weight: 27-28 pounds, you won't really let me weigh you
Height: Thankfully 1/4 inch shorter than the tables at the deli. a/k/a no idea but we've avoided any severe table-to-head injuries.
Diaper: 4 (also note: your big boy potty is now sitting nicely in your bathroom.)
Clothes: Nothing fits. 18 months are too small, 24 months swallow you. I'm sorry if someone some day points out that you often look homeless and mismatched. Blame the clothing industry, not your mama.
Shoes: size 7


Essentially everything you touch becomes a hat. Outside is still your favorite place to be and you're happy to go out the door with any willing stranger. Your vocabulary is expanding every single second of the day. Uncle Travis tells me in the next two months you should have acquired well over 130 words in your vocabulary. So far, you seem to be right on track.

Daycare. Well, I've been kind of mum on this issue since our big debacle last August. I guess this is the time to say, our new daycare really was that blessing in disguise everyone said it would be. Your teachers are amazing. You chant their names even on the weekends when we drive by the school. Ms. Mamie and Ms. Andie, those are your teachers.

Honestly, and a little shamefully, I don't know really any of this kid's names in your class. I've tried to remain low key at this daycare, and part of that has entailed leaving everything in your teacher's hands. With them doing such a great job, and you having serious issues whenever I leave you, I hand you off and run most days. Watching from the window, you calm down easily within a minute. While you've taken to your teachers, I haven't seen you take to the children as much. Your teachers, however, assure me that you have your "group of boys you like to play rough with." Oh yes, this sounds right on and just what I know you need.

You're pretty much an awesome student. Since the first week at this school we've seen an explosion in your development. Learning Baby Signs has been the greatest gift to all of us. You pick up on the signing so well and melt everyone's hearts each time you say "more, please" with those coordinating signs.


As with most of your life thus far, Millie and Baxter are your BFF. You chase those dogs around the house hollering "go-go Minnie, Bater, go-go" or "come, sit, please Minnie, Bater." Melts my heart how much you love those dogs. Two things we're still working on here: pronouncing the "x" in Baxter and the reciprocating love from your furry friends.

You're emotional, bursting with love, a natural comedian, a future engineer, choo-choo admirer, Elmo caller, crazy bouncing ball of a toddler. But each night, you grab our hands, walk down the hallway and ask, "up, please." And then we cuddle as our little family of three. This is my favorite time of all.


We've endured bouts of sleep regression, teething, tantrums. You know, the classic almost-two-year-old myths coming to life. In fact, just last night you woke screaming, thrashing and almost inconsolible. Is it teeth? Night terrors? I'm not sure. But, I know my love for you does not waiver.

I'm so proud to be your mama. The sweet boy you're becoming is such a beautiful reflection of your father and me. Thank you for showing us this love. Thank you for being our baby.

To the moon and back, 

Mama

{Be sure to follow along on Instagram and Twitter for daily doses of Jackson love. And? Be a friend and vote for The View From 510 by clicking the banner below then the owl to the left? Thanks!}
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Monday, January 28, 2013

Valentine Cookie Gift Basket {Giveaway!}

The other night Brandon came home with wine and dessert saying, "I thought I'd get you flowers but I knew you'd like this more." A smart man, he is. So, I guess this post can be a hint to him and a suggestion for all of you...Perhaps, this year, we'll forgo flowers and just go with cookies!

Cookie Gift Baskets is giving away not one but two cookie gift baskets this Valentine's Day. Winners will choose from three gourmet options:



As beautiful as these baskets are, can you even imagine how tasty?! Um, yes, yum! Cookie Gift Baskets has been serving up these beautifully crafted cookies since 2002 building a strong community of loyal cookie eaters! Now's your chance to have these sweet treats delivered right to your sweety or you this Valentine's Day!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest Rules:
You must complete the specified entry task in order to be eligible to win the contest. If you hit the green entry button without completing the task, your entry will be thrown out (disqualified from winning the prize). Open only to those 18 and older, and US residents. Winners will be chosen randomly. See the full list of rules here.
*photos via Cookie Gift Baskets

A Not Too Shabby Giveaway

The likelihood you've already heard of Shabby Apple is high. The chances you've got a spare $50 gift card to this boutique? Not so much. For those of you who aren't familiar with the brand, Shabby Apple brings the modern woman a retro look for any occasion. And don't worry, this is the best form of retro you could ever envision.


This vintage lace look is one I'm tagging for this year's wedding season. As are many others in Shabby Apple's Cocktail Dress category...


You won't even have to change browsers find those essential accessories thanks to Shabby Apple's selection of jewelry, shoes, and even aprons. I could stare at their jewelry all day, y'all!


Now, want $50 of your very own to spend however you'd like at Shabby Apple?!

We're going to forego Rafflecopter this time, and stick to the classic giveaway entry method...comments!

Follow these simple rules to enter the giveaway:

1. Like Shabby Apple on Facebook.
2. Head over to Shabby Apple and tell me your favorite item!
3. Tweet about the giveaway with this post's link then come back here and leave your tweet link in the comment.
4. Pin the first image of this post and come back leaving the link in the comments.

*For every entry leave a separate comment letting me know you've completed the task. The giveaway will run through February 5, 2013. The winner will be chosen via random.org. US residents only please.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Poppy Seed Ham Rolls {Recipe}

These delectable rolls are something I've coveted at various showers, weddings, get-togethers, insert whatever occasion the hostess chose for years. It's one of those recipes I adore, but never made. Why is that? I have no idea!! We were really missing out, y'all!

I'm happy to report after several different recipe attempts, we've finally perfected this little sammie in our household! Whether you're cooking for a Super Bowl Party or just a Tuesday night you'll be thankful you gave this one a try.


Poppy Seed Ham Rolls:

Ingredients:
24 Sweet Hawaiian Rolls
24 slices Brown Sugar Baked Ham
24 small slices cheese
1/3 cup mayonnaise

Poppy seed Sauce:
1 tablespoon poppyseeds
1 1/2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1/2 cup of butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Instructions:
Slice bread in half; we typically slice straight through the rolls without even separating them.  Spread the mayonnaise evenly across the bread, and place a slice of ham and swiss cheese on each roll. Close the rolls and place on a baking dish or cookie sheet.

In a medium bowl, whisk all of the poppyseed sauce ingredients together then pour over the sandwiches. Begin by spooning the sauce into all of the cracks between sandwiches. Please know, you don't have to use all of the sauce! Let the mixture soak in for about 10 minutes {if you can wait that long!}. Then cover with tinfoil and bake at 350 for 12 minutes or until cheese is melted. Last, remove foil and bake for 2-3 more minutes to create a nice crisp top to the sandwiches. Serve warm.


The balance of mustard and Worcestershire with the brown sugar ham is out of this world. My husband and Father-In-Law are still raving about these little sandwiches! Enjoy!


i love you more than carrots


*recipe adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything

Clean Mama Printables: Getting Organized With a Giveaway


We're just days away from the end of January, and I'm looking to my new year resolution list thinking I better get going! You see, if I were graded in "homemaking" last year, I'd get a big fat F. I lost track of our house, our cleaning, budgeting, all of it. Getting all of this back on track? Well, it's a rather large undertaking, and it's left me a bit starry-eyed.

Now steps in Becky a.k.a. Clean Mama


Becky creates an efficient way for anyone to regroup and get organized. Printable packets range from cleaning and meal planning to blogging or working from home. Whatever aspect of life you need put back into place, Clean Mama Printables has a solution. 

If you're like me and need more than one part of life organized this year, Becky offers a 2013 Starter Kit which includes The Busy Mama Kit, The Cleaning Kit, The Budget and Bill Pay Kit, The Menu Planning Kit, and The Dockets and Calendars Kit.
All printables are received {almost immediately} as a pdf to your email. For now, I've compiled my kit in a new home binder! I've seen other bloggers do this over the years with an assortment of printables they found through Pinterest.  I'm thankful I had no research to do with this project! There it all was, right in my inbox!



Take a simple binder, a few dividers, and voila. I do, however, foresee a few of these calendars making it to the refrigerator soon :)


Life, organized. Who would've thought it could be this easy to get started?!


Becky is kindly offering one 2013 Starter Kit to a lucky reader! Follow the Rafflecopter prompt below to enter for your chance to win, and be sure to keep up with all things Clean Mama! {Blog} {Facebook} {Pinterest}

To get get 20% off your next Clean Mama purchase use the code, 20VIEW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I was given a copy of the 2013 Starter Kit for review. All opinions are mine and not influenced by outside sources. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

So What, It's OK. Kind of a mish mash.

You know those weeks when you take just a day or two off?
It's bliss and misery all wrapped into one by the time reality hits again.

Our long weekend was amazing to say the least, but getting back into the swing of things can be tough. Especially when you return to a toddler still in the throws of sleep regression, dogs who are feeling deprived of love, a house that consistently needs cleaning and oh yeah that thing I call a job which welcomed me with piles of paperwork and ridiculous messages.

It's just enough to make you question that time off.

And then? You get an email enclosing a photo...


Yep, it was worth it. Every.Single.Second.

*linking up for So What Wednesday and It's Ok Thursday

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Valentine Gift Ideas: Datevitation {Giveaway}

Welcome to the third giveaway in the Celebrating the New Year Giveaway brought to you by Erin {The View from Five Ten} and me {It's a Vol!}



If you really knew me you would know that Christopher was my very first Valentine. Ever. I was 24 years old.
 
Every other boyfriend I had ever had either started right after or ended right before Valentine's Day. I was super excited to finally have a Valentine. Until I realized that I would actually have to get him something for Valentine's Day too. Well, hell. Valentine's Day is supposed to be about flowers and candy for me, right. Wrong.

For the past seven years I've struggled to find something for Christopher. One year I think I got him an Xbox game? Fail.

Not this year. This year I have a custom love coupon book from my new sponsor Datevitation! Datevitation is the world's first site that lets you create your very own coupon book for dates! Their site contains over 200 dates you can add to your book! Best of all the coupons are totally customizable! The coupons range from sweet and silly to the ahem, more adult range of things. The books come ready to give in their own gift boxes. Can you say easy? EASY! Easy, but totally thoughtful! I had so much fun putting one together for Christopher!

For $20 you get a totally custom love coupon book with 5 coupons. Additional pages are only $1 each!

Check out some of their great ideas!



{Stargazing}



{Go Cart Racing}



{make out session. bow chicka wow wow.}

Want one for your sweetie? 

BUY: Use code ITSAVOL for $10 off your order at Datevitation!

WIN: One lucky reader will win a Datevitation book for his or her sweetie! 

HOW TO WIN: This is a rafflecopter giveaway. There are two mandatory entries. Once you complete those entries the rest will unlock. While the rest are not required I highly suggest filling out as many as possible to maximize your chances of winning! This giveaway will run from January 22, 2013 through January 29, 2013. Winner will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

{Top Baby Blogs reset their rankings over the weekend. We'd so very much appreciate you taking the time to click the banner below then the owl to the left to show some support for our blog. Thanks, y'all!}
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Monday, January 21, 2013

Inauguration Day & A Favor

We danced the night away at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum last night during the SC Inaugural Ball surrounded by a wooly mammoth, the hope diamond and many other extraordinary exhibits. It's one of those nights that's a once in a lifetime experience, and I'm lucky enough to have done this twice now!

I have so many details and a few photos of us all dolled up that I can't wait to share with y'all! As part of the Inaugural Ball Committee, we put a lot of time and many emails into planning last night's event. To see it come to life last made my heart so happy.

More details to come, I promise, but for now I'm off to watch more coverage of today's Inauguration from the comfort of my hotel room.

Also, Top Baby Blogs reset their numbers this week. We've slowly been working our way up the charts and its all thanks to y'all taking a couple second to vote. I can't even explain how much those two clicks mean to me.

So? Like this blog? Enjoy following along as I sort out motherhood? Want to see more awesome things like our giveaway event happen? Take a second to click the banner below and then the owl to the left!

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Tiffany Kuehl Designs Giveaway

Welcome to the second giveaway in our Celebrating The New Year Giveaway Event! 
Sarah {It's a Vol! } and I {The View From 510} hope you'll continue to join us over the next few weeks for many more fabulous giveaways!


Today, I'm excited to be introducing a fabulous designer, blogger, mother, friend, the list goes on but I digress. I've known Tiffany a little over a year and in that time I've watched her grow a passion for graphic design into a flourishing business.

I think it's safe to say there are many great blog designers out there, but it's rare to find one that creates the personal experience Tiffany Kuehl Designs provides to each client. I'm telling you, her kind personality shines through in each project!

What aspect of design do you enjoy most?
I most enjoy collaborating with my clients. I try to get to know them and get to know what they really want so that their design represents them as much as it can. Most of the time, I end up talking to some of these women months later and grow to think of them as great friends. 

What do you do to push yourself as a designer? 
I try to keep my designs constantly changing, and I work on learning new things as much as I can. I am self taught and sometimes I feel like I have so much to learn!

Show us your favorite design!
Oh and this? Is just a handful of Tiffany Keuehl Designs' recent portfolio. 
Head over to her site for any design, branding or social media needs. Yes, you read that correctly, she does it all! 

WIN: One reader will have the chance to win her Keeping it Simple package {a $55 value}! 
This is a rafflecopter giveaway, there are two mandatory entries once you complete these the rest will unlock and you can complete more! While only the first two are mandatory I highly encourage you to complete the rest to maximize your chances of winning! Good luck and happy blog makeovers!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bum Luv {Giveaway}

Welcome to the CELEBRATING THE NEW YEAR GIVEAWAY EVENT brought to you by It's a Vol! and The View From 510!


Over the next few weeks, Sarah and I will introduce some amazing giveaways to get the new year started on the right foot, and we couldn't be more excited about the items we'll be sharing! 

First up, Sarah is here to introduce Giveaway #1 :)
See you back here Friday for our next giveaway announcement!

***

We all know how much I love me some cloth diapers right? I especially love super girly patterns on diapers so I was super excited when Brandy of Bum Luv Cloth Diapers sent me one of her diapers to try out and review in the bohemian pattern. So stinking cute! 

Aside from being adorably girly this diaper has some other great features. It's a waterproof one size pocket diaper with a super soft micro suede inner. It comes with one super abosorbant microfiber insert. It fit babies from 12 to 34 lbs and can take your child all the way from baby hood to potty training. Plus, Bum Luv diapers are very very affordable. At less than $10 a diaper Bum Luv proves that cloth diapering your little one doesn't have to have a huge upfront cost! 



We've been using our Bum Luv diaper for a few months now and I have to say we really love it! In addition to all of the great features it just works well. A good diaper should, in my mind, hold in pee and poop and fit comfortably. We are three for three on this diaper! We've not had any leaks, poosplosions or read marks on Evie's super chunky thighs! Win! 



The best part is you can try them out too! 

BUY: Visit the Bum Luv Shop and shop all you want! With diapers this affordable you will really get a lot for your money! 

WIN: Brandy has very generously offered one of our readers THREE Bum Luv cloth diapers! How awesome is that! Perfect if you want to build your stash or give cloth diapering a try! THIS IS A RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY, there are two mandatory entries once you complete these the rest will unlock and you can complete more! While only the first two are mandatory I highly encourage you to complete the rest to maximize your chances of winning! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

GOOD LUCK! 

*I was not compensated for this post. A product was provided at no charge for review purposes only. My opinions are mine and mine alone!*
*by entering on The View From 510, you are also entering on It's a Vol*
 

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Last Time I Was Single

2,553 Days ago an unsuspecting me left Tuscaloosa to meet friends in Nashville for a long weekend. We'd made absolutely no plans for the weekend except to be complete gypsies.

These were the days where every minute need not be planned to a T and living out of my car consisted of a "daytime outfit" and a "going out ensemble" rather than "if he has a blow-out outfit" and "if I get too much snot on me outfit."

That weekend, I disconnected from my life and allowed myself to be free.

2,554 days ago I went to my friend's childhood church in Nashville and met people from her past. Smiling and nodding as I fought a nasty hangover, I heard my friend finding us some party plans for the evening, at church nonetheless.

2,555 days ago my friend dragged me to the other side of Middle Tennessee to a tiny farm house. My feet hardly entered the house before I heard an acoustic guitar and voice which spoke to my soul. In that moment, that house latched onto me, the people in that house became my life.

That night, my friend was reunited with the boy who'd been her best friend when she was just a pre-teen. That boy, would just so happen to become my husband.

It's hard to believe all those days have passed. I can still hear the band playing until early morning and smell the fresh Tennessee dew on the farm as if it were outside our window now.

Seven years ago a boy and girl met not knowing their lives were finally in line. That one weekend was all it took.

Now you know why this is my favorite week of the entire year.

*learn more about our story here
*linking up with Melissa for Toddler Along Tuesday

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Can I Sub Out?

Pushed to our limits, Brandon and I found ourselves pleading to Sulli {grandma} for babysitter time this weekend. The thing of it is, we've been in dire need of extra babysitters often lately. Not because of a busy schedule, but because we just need time to refresh our sanity levels.

We're worn. Frazzled. Exhausted. Insert every other applicable synonym; that's us.

Between cutting 2-year old molars, a nightmare of sleep regressions and the onset of 2-year tantrums, we as parents find ourselves at a loss. Days are spent working our tushes off to pay bills, then we're welcomed home by a toddler who both wants to be attached to our leg but not have us in the same room. Which, FYI, none of us have figured out how to make happen yet. 

The #1 word in our house is currently no. From both the wild toddler and sleep deprived parents, we all seem to be set on repeat.  So? We started time-out last weekend, and my heart may have shattered to a million pieces in those 60 seconds. 

And then? Then there's the sleep regression. The blood curling screams. The far too early mornings which really still fall in the "nigh nigh" category. Jackson's days of wanting to sit in bed with mommy and daddy are gone. That sure went quickly

Officially one week shy of being 22 months old, it's safe to say the real two-year tantrum tendencies have arrived. And, well, it's more challenging than expected. 

To pile onto our already overloaded plates, we each seem to be getting a case of the sickies. Curse! 

Brandon looked to me the other night, lost in parenthood, and asked me, how? how do we do this? In that moment. All I could think was that silly little engine's mantra. 

I think I can. 
I think I can. 
I think I can.

It's in these cycles we question ourselves the most as parents. Are we doing this right? How could we do this with two? Are we insane for thinking we can add another to our brood next year? In this moment, at this juncture we'd be crazy. Hell all I want in the world right now is the largest stock of white wine known to man and just one whole week to sleep past 5 a.m.

But If there's anything I've learned in parenting thus far though is this too shall pass and those moments of joy will rise above. These weeks take more faith, more fight, more forgiveness and more love. 


No matter the strife of our days, each night when I lay my head to rest I know we're blessed. 
He's our miracle and I'll never forget that.

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Valentine's Printables {for the home}

Well, y'all it's officially time to prepare for Valentine's Day! Yes, Valentine's Day. It's crazy how quickly you blink and it's time for another holiday. I may or may not have forwarded my sweet husband a Groupon for a swedish massage earlier today. Hey, when it's time to get prepared for a holiday, you may as well do it right!

So, to help you spruce up your abode with some extra V-Day love here are a few of my favorite free printables!


Want one of these in a different color? Be sure to follow their links as most of them come in a variety!














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