December 18, 2012

Day of Silence

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December 17, 2012


It's been a hard December, friends. A hard hard December.

In the wake of Christopher's grandmother's death came the news that two police officers had been shot in Memphis, one losing her life and leaving behind four children, and directly (I mean minutes later) news of the shooting in Sandy Hook, CT broke. 20 babies dead. Seven adults dead. Twenty seven families who will never know the same joy around the Holiday season.

My anxiety has been in overdrive. Friday I sat at my desk with my heart pounding, my arms weak with their need to hold Evie, to twirl her curls, sniff the special spot on her neck just behind her ear and drink in her whole aliveness with my own eyes, until it was mercifully time to leave. I've gone through the motions all weekend. Making a breakfast brought to us by elves, painting ornaments, making salt dough Santas, going to Zoo Lights, ordering presents and going Christmas shopping.

And the second I stopped there it was again. Crushing grief. Dead babies. Major anxiety.

I prayed for anger, for bitterness, for rage to overwhelm the despair and sadness. It never came and likely never will. I'm not one to go around with anger in my heart. I feel things too much to let anger in like that. So while others have let the anger bubble over and called for vengeance, others have debated gun control and mental illness, I've just felt... sad.

But it's Christmastime, and I've got the world's brightest most beautiful toddler to introduce to it all. I've got 10,000 more "Woah, momma! Woah!"s to hear, cookies to bake, presents to wrap, the Christmas story to read, snuggles to snuggle and cocoa to drink. So I am trying to pull myself out of the funk.

I've been practicing my self care by taking a walk at lunch, eating something healthy, sitting near the sun and now writing. I've wanted to write all weekend but couldn't get the words past the lump in my throat, the coldness in my heart. And it seems in remembering that there is still good in the world, that I deserve to be happy, that it's ok to feel joy still I've manged to clear those blockages and put a bit of it into words.

When I feel the weight of this unspeakable heinous tragedy start to bear me down I try and remember the good I see in the world, people carrying groceries for the elderly, a couple holding hands, random acts of kindness, a quiet morning at the beach, my toddler's infectious giggle and that I believe in angels.
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December 11, 2012

Our Family Traditions

Chris and I both grew up with family traditions of our own. Since both sets of our parents live within thirty minutes we've really had to work at combining our two sets of traditions. We both have our favorite parts of Christmas and we've taken those parts and combined them to make them our own.

Growing up Christmas Eve was always my favorite. As a family we would attend Christmas Eve Candlelight Service and then have dinner. Dinner was mostly at Macaroni Grille because it's one of the few restaurants open on Christmas Eve. Afterwards we would go home and my brother and I would open one present each (always new jammies) and then take pictures with our dog (or dogs as the years went on).

Christmas morning we would get up and have breakfast and open presents and see what Santa brought. My mom would make a huge amazing meal and after we watched movies all afternoon. We never went anywhere on Christmas Day. It was always a wonderful day.

Christopher grew up celebrating family Christmas on Christmas Eve and then driving to his mom's family's house on Christmas Day. They had a big Christmas Dinner on Christmas Eve and then watched movies. The year that Chris turned sixteen lives in infamy in his family. According to legend he was sent to Blockbuster to pick out the Christmas Eve movie that year. Being a typical sixteen year old boy he returned with Anaconda (or something along those lines). Nothing gets you in the Christmas spirit quite like giant snakes.

We've combined our two favorite traditions, and added some new ones to create our own.

After attending Christmas Eve Candlelight Service with the whole family (his and mine included) we have dinner. This year we decided that every other year we will switch between Macaroni Grille and dinner at Christopher's parents. Then we will return home, let Evie open her one Christmas Eve present (which will be new jammies) and after she goes to bed we will watch Home Alone and drink hot cocoa in front of the fire.

Christmas Morning we will do Santa then breakfast and then open gifts. We are also inviting all of the grandparents over at any point on Christmas Day so that they can hang out with Evie. Then in the afternoon we will do our Christmas Dinner. I dream of the day when I can make a fancy roast AND a turkey (I grew up with roast and Chris with turkey and neither of us will budge) and serve a huge meal on my wedding china in my formal dining room. Until then though we'll just do fancy little appetizers.

We are also awesome and get matching family jammies this every year. This years jammies are EPIC. I'm so excited to finally be able to wear them!

Do you have any favorite family traditions for the holidays? Come link up and share with Melissa at Growing Up Geeky for Toddle Along Tuesday!

PS -- I'd like to thank every one of you who sent supportive tweets yesterday. For those of you who don't know my grandmother-in-law passed away yesterday. It was both expected and completely unexpected at the same time. I had this post pre-written and scheduled. I stopped it from posting because how could I talk about Christmas traditions when it feels like, in a single second, everything changed? But then I realized traditions are how we keep family alive.

Thanks so much again for your encouragment, and for your patience as our family works through this. We always appreciate your prayers and thoughts.

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December 10, 2012

No! No!

Y'all we have entered the "No! No!" phase, and, friends, it's wearing me thin.
Me: Evie are you ready for night night?
Evie: No no!
Me: Evie do you want to stay up, eat cookies and watch TV?
Evie: No no!
Me: Evie do you love Momma & Daddy?
Evie: No no!
Me: Evie do you want to go live with a new Momma & Daddy?
Evie: No no!
Me: Evie do you want to eat Marshmallows?
Evie: No no!
Me: Evie do you want to stay in your highchair?
Evie: No no!
Me: Evie do you want to get out of your highchair?
Evie: No no!
Me: pass the wine.
Here's to hoping this is just, yet another, toddler phase.
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December 7, 2012

Comfy Rumps Cloth Diaper Review & Giveaway!

I love cloth diapering for serveral reasons. First, it's easy on Evie's skin and when she is in sposies we have to keep her lathered in cream to prevent a rash. Second, it's cost effective. Second, it provides relief for our pocketbook, and we have more than recouped the cost of cloth diapers in savings. Third, Evie is one less baby who creating over a ton of toxic waste per year. We aren't the greenest family, but we are taking small steps to make our family greener and freer of toxic chemicals. Cloth diapering is just another way for us to accomplish this goal.

When Christie of Comfy Rumps Cloth Diapers contacted me about reviewing one of their cloth diapers I immediately went and read her about me page. I was floored because her values are right in line with mine. Furthermore, she is also passionate about making cloth diapering accessible to everyone who wants to, not just folks who can handle the cost of buying a whole stash all at once. That's pretty important in a time when being eco-friendly simply out prices most families because it is trendy.

December 5, 2012

Celebrating the New Year Giveaway Event!

Great, big, huge EXCITING news y'all!

My friend Erin from The View From 510 and I are teaming up this January to bring our readers a ton of great giveaways in our Celebrating The New Year Giveaway event! We are so excited about what 2013 is bringing for us and for our families and we want to share it with all of our fans! 

We've got a bunch of great sponsors for some awesome reviews and giveaways lined up already, but we are looking for a few more! We want this to be the best event yet! 

Do you have a great company you would like to see promoted? Do you own an ETSY shop and want more exposure? Do you have a fledgling business you want to see grow? Do you need to increase your direct sales numbers?

Then this event is for you! 

It's a Vol has 660 GFC followers, 300 Facebook fans and 850 Twitter followers, a Google PR of 3 and see 30,000+ pageviews per month. The View From 510 has 741 GFC followers, 1271 Facebook fans, 1,123 twitter followers, a Google PR of 2 and sees 7,000+ pageviews per month. We would love to use our resources to promote you and your business!

If you would like to sponsor the Celebrating The New Year Giveaway Event please contact me at itsavol {at}yahoo {dot} com, on Facebook or Twitter!

Wordless Wednesday: A New Christmas Tradition

Back in October when we visited the pumpkin patch at Cedar Hill Farm we happened to notice that they also have a Christmas Tree farm and put on a breakfast with Santa on Saturdays and Sundays in late November and December. We immediately decided we wanted to make this a family tradition at Christmastime. The Saturday after Thanksgiving we loaded up the families for Evie's first time picking out and cutting down a live tree and breakfast with Santa.

It was freezing cold out (unlike now where it's 70 degrees in December) which was perfect for the beginning of our Christmas festivities. We spent awhile perusing the firs before we spotted the perfect tree. Chris actually pointed Leroy* (our tree) out to me. I couldn't help but agree that he was gorgeous: full of fluffy branches and ideally shaped. He was neither too thin on top nor too fat on bottom. Did I mention he was almost thirteen feet tall? After that there was no going back; I was sold on Leroy. No amount of perfectly shaped nine foot beauties could convince me that Leroy wasn't meant to be our tree. So down and home he came with us.

After we picked out the perfect tree and my stud muffin of a husband cut him down we took our pink noses and numb fingers and headed inside for breakfast with Santa! We all had a great time, and the food was really delicious. All of it was homemade down to the pumpkin spice donuts!

After breakfast we lined up to take Evie's picture with Santa. She was not sure about it, and wanted her Momma right by. Santa was kind enough to let Rufus sit on his lap too and even autographed Evie's book for her!

It was a great day, and we can't wait til next year!

{a part of the tree farm}


{my mother in law in her fab-o hat! She's so cute!}


{Hanging Out with Grandpa & Nana!}

{Peace Out Homies!}

{Riding on Uncle William's Shoulders!}

{Family Photo in Front of Leroy!}

{The ENTIRE family in front of Leroy!}

{Chris Sawing Away & Me Helping!}

{Ready for Some Breakfast!}

{Santa! I know him!}

{Santa's Helper!}

{Rufus Wanted to Sit with Santa Too!}

{So over it!}

{Playing on the Playground After!}


*Yes. I named our tree. I name all the things.
 {A vote for us is a vote for Breakfast with Santa! Thanks for all of your support friends!}
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December 4, 2012

These Are My Momfessions

Alright here we go folks, the good, the bad and the downright flameworthy (thanks Melissa for that term). These are my momfessions.

1) Sometimes Evie eats the most random dinners because I am so far past tired that pulling out and reheating leftovers is all I can do. The other night she ate left over au gratin potatoes, green beans and fish dip (tuna fish salad) on crackers. She loved it. I felt terrible but I was so tired I could barely see straight.

2) Sometimes, in my head, I STILL judge other moms. I try hard not to but sometimes I can't help it. I never voice any of it, but I can't help thinking it. I might share with my husband, but that's about it. I think we're all guilty of it though.

3) Once Evie rolled off of her changing mat onto the floor while both her father and I were in the room. Talk about parents of the year. I still don't know how it happened, but it did. I also managed to scratch Evie as I tried to keep her from falling. The tears were minimal and between the efforts of her father and I she really landed in my lap, but it was still an awful awful moment. Oh and did I mention this happened on Mother's Day. Yeah. FTW.

4) If I wake up in the middle of the night to pee I sneak out of our room and into the nursery to snuggle Evie back up in her blankets if she needs it and just to watch her breathe. She's so peaceful and calm. I'll stand there for five, ten maybe even twenty minutes just drinking in this tiny human that I grew in my belly and basking in my love for her. I realize that might make me sound all creepy and whatnot but I can't help it.

5) Evie has been licked in the mouth by our dogs. I try really hard to stay on top of this. I do not mind if they lick her hands and face, but I'm not real big on the mouth thing. And with four dogs and a very active toddler sometimes I can't prevent it I just have to stop it when it happens. I tell myself that I used to willingly share popsicles with my dog Heidi when I was a kid and I am no worse for the wear.

So what are you momfessions? Link up with Melissa at Growing Up Geeky and share!

{If you have a minute could you spare a click or two? Thanks friends your support means the world!}
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December 3, 2012

Turn Your Photos Into Custom Art! My Own Art Giveaway!

I spend a lot of time taking and editing photos of my darling Evie. It's a small passion of mine, recording her life in detail and creating what I think are beautiful photos. However, my skills are limited and my creativity is sometimes limited. So when Elin Tidbeck of My Own Art contacted me about doing a custom digital illustration of Evie I was thrilled. I took a look around her website and was super impressed. Elin uses her back ground in architecture, knowledge of photoshop and desire to be near her family while supporting them to turn your photos into beautiful gallery quality art.After looking around my blog Elin suggested using this picture of Evie: 

I was totally on board because this is without a doubt one of my top five favorite pictures of Evie, and just look what she did with it!

And just in time for Christmas you can have one too! 

BUY: Using code 30offitsavol you are entitled to $30 off any custom digital illustration of your choice until December 14th. A custom illustration would be the perfect Christmas or Holiday gift for a loved one! 

WIN: Elin has offered one lucky reader a custom digital illustration of their choice. Once you email Elin your photo she will have it back to you within three days. Once the final edits are made she will email you a file that you will have full rights to. You can then make as many prints as you like! 

In order to win you must complete the Rafflecopter form. The first entry is mandatory. You must visit My Own Art and leave me a comment letting me know what your favorite work of Elin's is. You must do this entry exactly. Once you complete this entry the form will unlock the remaining entries. The more you complete the better you chances of winning are! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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November 29, 2012

Lessons from a Toddler Mom Numer 5

More Lessons from a Toddler Mom!
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November 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Tree Insanity

Since we have been married Chris and I have always had a lovely eight foot pre-lit tree. It's had gorgeous white lights and has always been decked out with ornaments. Christmas of 2010 a few sections started crapping out on us and last year there were even more, so at the end of the season we pitched our tree. This year we decided we wanted a live tree, and I totally made my husband buy a twelve and a half foot monster somehow we ended up with a 12.5 foot tree, covered in 2000 colored lights. It's awesome, and I love it.

Have you put your tree up yet? Do you love it?
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November 27, 2012

Evie's 20 Month Update!

On Thanksgiving this little turkey lurkey turned 20 months old! She's growing so big, smart and strong every day! I am so proud to be her Momma!
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