Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Rachel Ray. Not Sure I Could Say No.


Kiss the Cook Event

Organized by: Mom Powered Media
Prize: Rachael Ray Cookware Prize Package
Event dates: 6/3 - 6/24

New Design, BlogLovin, BlogHer, Oh My!

Oh hai there. Yes, it's me coming to you with two posts in one day. I mean business, y'all.

Typically I'd tell you to jump out of Google Reader and take a look around my new blog design. However, we all received the life-altering news that Google Reader will be shutting down come July 2013. So, I guess that little saying is out the window and creates more business to tend to.

If you're still in Google Reader, I recommend heading to Bloglovin' immediately and setting up a profile. I tried Feedly first and just didn't take to it as quickly as Bloglovin'. So, yeah, I'm jumping on the bandwagon.

Follow me? Ahem, just click the icon...I'll wait while you add me to your feeds.
Follow on Bloglovin

Now that we've gotten that out of the way: Are you seeing my new design?! This has been many moons in the making. For far too many months this design has been sitting in pieces. Thanks to some help from my dear friend Tiffany, I finished things up and managed a fresh look for our Spring season.

You'll see some updated topics in my sidebar as I'm hoping to make things a little more user-friendly
Looking for a recipe? printable? parenting tips & disasters? It's all there!

Last, but certainly not least, I'm attending BlogHer 13 this summer. I've made this announcement once or twice before on the ole blog but now? Now, it's just a few months away and things are getting real. Between now and July 25 I have lists galore, plans aplenty and excitement building. 

It should go without saying, there are some great things in the works for The View From 510.

Have you switched to Bloglovin, Feedly, whatever other option and I'm not seeing your blog? I'd hate to miss out on your blogs just as much as I'd miss you reading mine. So, leave me a comment if you've moved as well!

Missed my posts lately? Be sure you're caught up:

Teacher Appreciation Gift Card Printables
Thin Mint Truffles {recipe}
Cleaning: Toddler Style
Our Fear of Infertility

Teacher Appreciation Gift Card Printables

Teacher Appreciation Week, May 6-10, has been marked in my calendar for months. I've been back and forth on what exactly to do for Jackson's teachers and have finally landed on gift cards. It's as convenient to my wallet as baking and saves my kitchen a round {or two} of dishes. 



To spruce up my cards, I've scouted some of the best free gift card printables! Because even though I have zero guilt going the convenient (aka non-crafty) route, I do love a good printable. I hope you'll find one to use for your teachers!


Pinterest Inspired Free Printable via Chikabug and Skip to my Lou



Helping us Grow via Plumb Adorable


Thanks a Latte via eighteen25


Creative Juices via Tater Tots & Jello


Thanks for Keeping my Learning on Target via g*rated


Munchkins via Happy Home Fairy

Don't forget to share a little extra appreciation for your teachers next week whether through a gift card, craft or baked good or even just an extra thank you

For more Teacher Appreciation Ideas visit my board on Pinterest.

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Be sure to follow our blog on Bloglovin' or another RSS feed. Soon Google Reader will be gone! 
Follow on Bloglovin

Monday, April 29, 2013

My Husband does laundry, like a boss.

Prior to becoming parents, Brandon and I lived together for four years. And in those four years, I could count on one, okay maybe two, hands how many loads of laundry Brandon did in that time.

Now, for a shocking confession: I liked doing laundry.

Gasp!

I know!

When it was just me and him with maybe a load or two of laundry each week it was no biggie. Plus, he worked full-time and went to school full-time during most of those years. I, on the other hand, had more flexible school and work schedules. So, it just worked out.

Over the last two years though, I've been singing a much different tune when it comes to laundry. Working full-time, mom-ing full-time, wife-ing full-time (husband may disagree) and blogging part-time (?), my plate is overflowing.

It was during the first few months following maternity leave that I noticed Brandon did not one but two loads of laundry. I remained mum, high-fiving myself for that unrequested awesomeness.

And wouldn't you know, the laundry trend continued. Here we are two years later and laundry has officially become his chore along with many others. Some days my jaw still hits the floor when I see how many loads of laundry he cycles through the house in a day. In this sense, he'd make one damn good SAHD.


He's done so well lately keeping our house in order and Jackson smiling that I left him and Jack for a day together while I attended an out-of-town wedding shower this weekend.

I'm not going to lie, I had full confidence in Brandon until just hours before leaving. Jackson was throwing one of his worst fits to date and my mama and wife guilt was coming on heavy. Brandon thankfully assured me things would be fine and pushed me out the door.

To have been a fly on the wall during their day together would've been priceless. The few moments Brandon managed to capture for me were enough to show that their day together was one for the books.


In true toddler tantrum fashion, Jackson woke up with an attitude. I was sent the "he's standing in the corner crying" text. Thankfully, a handful of minutes later I recieved the "we're getting out of the house" text. And? They even remembered his sunglasses (Jackson's current must-have item). Hours passed as I mingled at the shower and headed to the outlet mall with my mom.

I began to worry, things had been too quiet. But alas, I received the "we're at McDonald's because he kept asking for fries" text. And in that moment I knew: they were good. Just wait though, this toddler's life got even better, he got an ice cream cone on the way out. Say what?! Someone sure was trying to sneak in as the favorite!

Missing bedtime that night by just thirty minutes, I returned to a husband who was calm, cool and collected.

My heart grew three sizes that day hearing Brandon sum up his day with Jackson. Their father/son relationship blossomed that day, in those few hours. And then, when questioning Jackson the following day, my heart beamed with happiness hearing his happy recollection of his outings with Dad.

Brandon and I both underestimate his innate ability to be a top notch husband and dad some days.

So, husband, if you're reading this, you rocked this weekend. Truly, every notion I've ever had for you as a partner was fullfilled in the last 48 hours. From laundry, to yard work, to bonding with our wild child you're the best. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Our fear of infertility

In one longwinded, run-on sentence text to my best friend I detailed the potential timeline for Brandon and I getting pregnant with Baby #2. No detail had gone overlooked. Not a single one; trust me.

From the three month span of our potential trying-to-conceive time to the spacial planning between other national holidays, birthdays and anniversaries {& football season}. This was it:  pregnancy planning. Something I've never done before.

Medical science was said to be essentially the only way I'd have a biological child. At least, that's what the doctor said when I was just 18. As the years passed, this fact soaked further into my soul, enabling the greatest fear we have as women.

Infertility. 

For years, I convinced myself motherhood was not for me. I just wasn't born for it, clearly. And then, at the ripe age of 22, God stepped in and swiped away that fear in one manic meeting at a walk-in clinic. That stomach bug? Yeah, not so much.

While the miraculous manner in which Jackson became a little being reaffirms my faith, I find myself wavering on the brink of Baby #2. And that brink is no small matter.

Baby fever has certainly not stopped me from dreaming of adding one more baby to our family. We have gone back and forth for months regarding budgets, timing and whether or not it's what's best for our family. The debate continues; however, it's clear where our hearts lie.

Our friends and family are set on: if you've got one then what's two? 

For them, two is an exciting addition, another little to spoil. For me though? It's an intimidating journey, one which may not be as miraculous as the first.What if it's not as easy? What if pregnancy doesn't just happen? What if the infertility the doctor's predicted the first time becomes our reality this time?

Infertility: what if it's meant to be part of our story?

For months, I've kept this sliver of fear close to my heart. That is, until Brandon said in conversation: what if it doesn't just happen? There it was; he has thought it too. He knows this fear of mine; he sees the potential blessing and just the same, the potential tribulations.

We cannot know for certain what lies ahead, and that terrifies me to the core.

Infertility is synonymous with depression, in my book. A harsh statement, I know, but it's the truth that's burned into my heart. Over the last four years, we've managed to see me out of my darkest and into my brightest. I fear if we pursue another child, infertility may be in store. My emotions? They.Can't.Handle.It. 

And now, I know Brandon can sense this fear himself. Sure, he'd probably say this post is out of proportion to his comment that day. Typical man. But I know it's more. I know budgets and patience set aside he too has this fear of infertility, and rightfully so.

I've supported others through battles of infertility, praying restlessly through their journey. And, if infertility becomes part of our story, I will have to forgive this part of myself, this part of our story. An act that is so much easier said than done in the preceding sentence. It's something I have a hard time wrapping my head around. So, I bury this fear of infertility in the miracle that is our first child; our greatest blessing and beacon of my faith.


*linking up with Amanda to share the message of National Infertility Awareness Week. Find more information about NIAW here.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cleaning: Toddler Style

For the life of me I could not find the right lighting in our house to capture the perfection of my most recent recipe. So, I headed to the back deck for some natural lighting.

I could've sworn Jackson was right at my heels as usual, but somewhere along the way I began snapping photos of my truffles as he'd shut himself in for some cleaning.


Or, you know, a toddler's version of cleaning: spitting on the door then proceeding to wipe said spit with an already used paper-towel.


The hilarious face makes up for every germ he spread and acquired in those few minutes.
Oh, and so did these truffles.

Toddlers, can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em. Am I right?!

linking up with Jenni From the Blog, Project Alicia, In the Moment With

Thin Mint Truffles {Recipe}

Every year, my mom set back one box of Thin Mints. In fact, she'd put them in the freezer saving them for that moment of Thin Mint weakness between Cookie Seasons. It is a genius idea, one that I highly recommend.

And now, I'm going to recommend you pull that box of Thin Mints out of the freezer to make these delicious truffles. No. Really. Go get your Thin Mints. Call your MIL if you have to; these truffles are worth it!
Thin Mint Truffle #recipe

Ingredients:
1 box Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies (or other mint cookie)
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 package green chocolate melts

Directions:
1. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper; set aside.
2. Blend the Thin Mints until they're a fine texture (you may prefer to use a food processor). Then mix them with the cream cheese.
3. Roll into one inch balls and place onto the cookie sheet. Place them into the freezer for 30 minutes.
4. Melt the green chocolate as directed. You'll want it to be well melted for maximum truffle dipping! Then dip each truffle in the green chocolate. I prefer to use a cake pop stick to dip the truffles, but a couple of forks will do as well.
5. Optional: Allow the green layer to set, and add white chocolate drizzle. I simply melted 1/4 cup white chocolate, cut a small slit in the corner of a plastic bag and drizzled over the truffles.
6. Once the chocolate has set, serve the Thin Mint Truffles at room temperature.


You will be so thankful for that box Thin Mints you've stowed away!


Recipe adapted from Six Sisters Stuff

linking up with Semi Homemade Mom, Lil Luna, Tatertots and Jello, Southern Lovely, Mostly Homemade Mom, Somewhat Simple

Monday, April 22, 2013

Times Like These

Toddlerhood seems tragic enough most days, top that off with actual national tragedy and well, you'll find most mothers carrying a heavy heart. But as I was glued to the live-stream of the Boston Manhunt on my computer while simultaneously drafting motions for work Friday, the lines of life begin to blur together: the reality of our fallen world and the protective bubble we enclose ourselves in with our children.

Sunny days, park trips, finger painting and cake-pops fill the lives of the children in these parental bubbles. But the reality of our fallen world shows a darker picture of a child. One who, despite his apparent traditional upbringing, has seen moments in his life no mother could ever dream.

We're drawn to every step of breaking news during these moments. From the outside looking in, a picture of Brandon and I would be the pair anxiously on the edge of the couch debating tactical preparations of the FBI, comparing reasoning logistics behind the Boston bombings and checking social media for the latest 140 character update. 

And then there's Jackson. Our innocent child, whom I by all means want to shield from this reality. 

At this moment in life I'm so thankful I can turn the television off, open the blinds and hold my child tight knowing he's none the wiser. He's still too young to see, to understand, to comprehend the trials our nation has seen in the last week. 

The days of our innocence are much more appreciated in our later years, this is no secret. My initial reaction is to shield Jackson completely from such tragedy, but to shield him completely in life would be a disservice to him. How will he ever know or see the need for help, if he does not witness any hurt?

And so, I thank the Lord he's still too young to understand and brace myself for the years ahead of us. For now, I'll turn off CNN switch the DVR to Little Einsteins and skip around singing the latest Fresh Beat Band song. 

Jackson will be far more aware of our reality and much less aware of his innocence, in the blink of an eye. How we handle these moments of tragedy in the presence of our children now will have every impact on their actions in the future. Sometimes the lines blur, our bubbles burst and we must readjust our vision of a perfect life, an American life. 

In times like these, we must remember it's not just about the here and now; it's about the innocence of our children and how we work to preserve and prepare them for all occasions of life. In times like these, we hold them closer, we pray for them harder and we hope their hearts are humbled when the time comes that the fallen world enters their sunny bubbles.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Marriage is a choice, everyday.

It's a choice to share your days, good and bad, every one of them.

It's a choice to look past the imperfections of your loved one.

It's a choice to pick your battles.

It's a choice to go to bed mad if that's what's best for your relationship.

It's a choice to watch your words and respect your spouse.

It's a choice to have faith in the person walking the road of marriage beside you.

***

Brandon and I tend to be a couple who bicker. Some days I wonder if it's because we are too similar or is it we're too different? All I know, is our relationship is colored with highs and lows.

We are not that subtle couple in the corner who can share a whisper and poof any tension has faded. No, we are each much too vocal, indecisive and passionate to just let it go.

Many times in life I've wished were that couple. You know the one I'm talking about. In fact, I think my best friend has this relationship. I'm not certain they even ever bicker. Life just isAnd that's good for them. Our relationship cannot be compared to theirs, though, or anyone else's for that matter. I must remember, we're each making our own path in marriage.

***

It's a choice to see the sunshine through the rain.

It's a choice to find the middle ground when we've moved too far apart.

It's a choice to love the other for their growth, change and aspirations.

It's a choice to commit a friendship to one another despite all obstacles of life.

It's a choice whose abundance of blessings far outweighs any bicker-filled, bad day.

***

The beginning, middle and ending may vary, but each day we make these choices in marriage to keep up us growing forward. Yes, growing forward. Because really that's what each choice boils down to, growing together in our future.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Future of Music

As the Toddler and I rode to school this morning, I cranked up the music for some early morning sing-alongs. My loud signing quickly drowned out the tiny voice coming from the backseat. Though, once I heard his voice I turned the radio down a bit, praying Jack wouldn't catch onto me listening into his jam session.

Boooonngggg, Boooonnnggg, Boooong. Beh-dong, he sang with so much heart.

Our crazy kid was back there not signing the song on the radio, but once again humming the tune to the beginning of his favorite Eric Church song, Creepin.

This determined singer did not stop at just one round of this prelude. No, he repeated it over and over and over. Right on beat and always a bit off tune. Jamming nonetheless.

My mommy heart was bursting as my smile spread from ear to ear. Through the rearview mirror, I could see the slight nod of his head and the expressions of his sweet brows as he belted out his favorite little diddy.

I couldn't help but think, here he is: my future musician. Just like his daddy, never singing the words but focusing on the beat. Perhaps this is the drummer in him. Or guitar player. No matter the instrument, I just adore seeing his love for music already blossoming.

He surprises me everyday, and I'm so thankful for this morning sing-along reminder.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Happy, but heavy hearts.

Life lately? Well, it's been busy; it's been full; it's been demanding; it's been cherished. 

Amidst the DIY projects, the onset of big work things and Jackson's birthday, I've taken some time to step back. This step has allowed me the opportunity to soak up every possible second, not just of my wild toddler but also of my husband and my work. 

From the silly enunciations of Jackson's words, to the many lovely gestures from my husband to the thriving career I'm paving for myself with Firm B, I've opened myself to the opportunity of embracing these moments more readily. 
Little did I know, this finite change in my social routine would affect my sprit so strongly. By disconnecting just a few extra moments each day, I've found so much more enjoyment in the bustle that has become our everyday. The stressors aren't so stressful, the planning isn't so structured and the moments are more meaningful.

We're quickly cruising through the April calendar and I've found myself so lost in documenting the moments, in finding that post topic, and capturing the photo that I lost touch with life, with what we are really doing. 

I was losing my ever-loving-mind that my toddler won't pose for a single.picture.ever. My Pinterest projects were epic fails, with the exception of the husband's book shelves. Work has been the calm before the storm, and now, we're officially in the heart of the storm. All this as I battled case 53,203 of writer's block. 
2013 is not showing any signs of slowing down; in fact, we are just getting going. And with each email, Facebook and crazy app alert we're adding more to our calendar every day. Anniversaries, weddings, vacations, oh my! 

And this? This is what matters. These blessing we see in our lives. These moments of joy and sorrow. This is what my blog is about, er, supposed to be about. Sharing our story, our view from 510. Expect to find a bit more of me, our family and the raw situations life is presenting to us within my posts.

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Special Announcements: 

As of today, I've owned this domain name for a year. Yep, one year ago we became The View From 510 and I couldn't be more excited to get back to the basics! 

Over the next seven days, I will be approaching some big events at work and we (Brandon and our friends) also hope to find some closure in regards to our friend and brother Jimmy. I hope to be back to regular posting from here on out, but only my heart will know when it's right to come back. Prayers for our friends and family are much appreciated as we approach some life-altering milestones in the next weeks. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Unsolicited Advice from Suze

Hi, everybody!  Erin is such a sweet and real blogger- don't you just love her?!  I sure do, and that's why I am so excited to have the privilege of guest posting on her wonderful piece of blogland today.

I'm Suze from straight on the ground.  I'm a working mom with a sweet eight month old baby. As the first of my friends to have a baby, I was a little clueless as to what to do.  And you know, you get lots of unsolicited advice as a pregnant lady- or really, when starting any new stage of life.  Can I get a what what from the engaged ladies who know what I'm sayin'?

Anyway, so here's a bit of unsolicited advice from me.

 photo advice_zpsb108a951.jpg 

Three things I'm really glad I did as a pregnant lady and three things I wish I could have told myself before labor day, as we lovingly refer to it.

Things I'm really [glad] I did
[one] Took weekly bump photos:  At first, I thought this might be a dumb idea.  But at the end, I was glad I did.  It was fun to see  all the progress we had made!
[two] Took bubble baths:  and just generally made time for myself.  Before pregnancy, I was a big "yes" girl and was addicted to overcommitment.  Being super pregz took care of that!  I had to put myself first as my baby was in there, and he became my number one priority.  Lots of life lessons learned.
[three] Refrained from Google:  Google is not a doctor and Google is not your friend.  Okay, Google is your friend.  That one friend that when you say something like, does this skirt make my hips look huge? totally gives you a sideways glance, like yup.  And you possibly have an incurable disease.  So did my friend's mom's dog's groomer's aunt and her skirt was that EXACT same skirt.

Things I [wish] I could have told myself
[one] A lot of people secretly just want to scare you.  Including people on the Internet.  Not me of course, but others.  Anyway, don't listen.:  So you know that thing I said earlier about unsolicited advice?  Sometimes, people are it it just to scare you.  I guess because they were scared and think it's a rite of passage?  I don't know, but I know that lots of stuff people tell you is not as bad as they make it sound.  In fact, it has been way, way better than anybody made it sound.
[two] Nobody knows it all.:  You might see someone who seems like they have it all together, but just remember- don't compare your behind the scenes with everybody else's highlight reel.  Find some people in your life who will support you and love you- you got a friend, a mom, a husband, somebody like that?  That will be very helpful.
[three] You will learn a whole lot, but the greatest lesson will be love.:  So I thought I knew what love was, but this is a whole new sort of love.  I can never put into words the feeling of love I felt as that baby was growing inside of me and when they placed him in my arms that day.  The closest I can get is the feeling of heaven kissing Earth.  It's beautiful and wonderful, and I know it's just going to get more so.

 photo meandbaby_zpsbaf0c531.jpg

So those are my lessons to share with you.  I learned a lot about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness throughout my baby experience (Thomas Jefferson would be so proud!) and I hope that you could take a little something away from this.  Have a happy day and come visit me over at straight on the ground sometime!