January 31, 2013

Thirty

Today is my thirtieth birthday. Yay! I'm not freaked out, depressed or otherwise upset about it. In my last thirty years I've learned a lot about myself, who I am and how strong I can be.

On my thirtieth birthday here are 30 Facts and Things Which are True About Me
1) I'm never going to love tomatoes. I might want some bruschetta occasionally but mostly nope. No tomatoes.
2) I am a chronic rule follower. This will never change. 

3) I have curly hair, and no amount of fist shaking or straightening products will change that. I've learned to love my curls.

4) Plain white bride's cake with white butter cream icing is my favorite cake. I don't like chocolate cake or frosting.

5) I like strawberry more than I thought I did. I don't ever count it among my favorites, but in the end I love strawberries, strawberry cake, strawberry starbursts etc. So maybe it really is my favorite.

6) Being a mom has taught me that I am stronger than I ever thought possible. Being stronger than I thought possible has taught me that I can overcome anything.

7) I love to read. I have movies and TV shows I love, but my first choice in entertainment will always always be between the pages of a book.

8) I am a creature of habit, and change will always be hard for me, but the important thing is that I don't let change be impossible.

9) I don't like fruity drinks. I don't. I want to because they look so pretty, but for me a mojito is about as fruity as I like.

10) I actually have self confidence. I think it took me almost thirty years to figure it out, but I have a lot to confident about.

11) If I won the lottery one thing I would do would be cook my way around the world. I'd go to India, Greece, Italy, Vietnam, China, Japan, Mexico, France, London, Spain and NOLA (yes NOLA Cajun and French creole is a cuisine unto itself) and learn to cook authentically, from the mothers and grandmothers in hot home kitchens.

12) Then I'd (buy my way into it if I had to) enroll in pastry school.

13) I have a passion for social media, not just an interest but a real passion.

14) Being a wife and mother is not boring it is perhaps the biggest adventure of my life every day, day after day.

15) I am a bred in the bone Daddy's girl.

16) My momma is my best friend.

17) Food is really good and one of life's greatest pleasures, but don't over do it.

18) I am a slow eater. I used to be a fast eater.

19) Once a cheerleader always a cheerleader, and not just because I can still remember most of our cheers but because I like to encourage people.

20) I have come to know there is an art to making sweet tea. I have not yet mastered it, my mother has though.

21) I order a Shirley Temple every year on my birthday. I've been doing this for as many years as I can remember.

20) I never trust a blinker, and come to a full and complete stop at all stop signs.

21) I am fiercely loyal up until the point you give me a reason not to be.

22) I'm not a bitch, but I am opinionated and I don't suffer fools easily.

23) I have a deep love of science and I really hope to pass this along to my daughter.

24) We have two cats and I love them, but I will never be a cat person. I'm a dog person all the way.

25) I have no clue what the real color of my hair is.

27) I'm a nail polish junkie. I have 12 different shades of red in my collection right now. True story.

28) I'm not what you would call an affectionate person. I don't hug people I don't know or really anyone outside of my family, but you know I love you if I cook for you. That is how I show my heart.

29) I love martinis but after two or three sips my head starts to swim so I only order them once or twice a year. The second martini is never a good idea. Sometimes I still order a second martini.

30) I have a really good life.

I'm pretty excited for what this new decade will bring! Ten years of marriage to my husband, a new house and hopefully another baby, trips to Disney world, first soccer games, Gymnastic meets, a trip to Fiji or The Maldives (hope! hope! hope!), vacations, swimming lessons, more love, more light and more laughter.

I can't wait to share them all with you.
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January 30, 2013

Carseat Sidekick Review & 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.*
 
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Wordless Wednesday: Like Mother Like Daughter

She's my girl in more ways than one.
 
 
{My favorite lovie from my childhood, named Huffy.}
 


{Evie's favorite lovie, named Rufus.}

 
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January 29, 2013

Unititled Post

Being a mother is the hardest job I have ever done in my life.

The job description of a mother is one that changes constantly from second to second.

Sometimes I am the woman who gets up and soothes my daughter through a fussy night. Sometimes I am the purple haired, two headed tickle monster on the prowl for little girls to devour. Sometimes I am a nurse writing down medication dosages and times, washing thrown up on sheets or placing cool washrags on a feverish forehead. Sometimes, I am a cook, a maid, a comforter, a disciplinarian, a fashion consultant, a shoulder to cry on and arms to hug.

I am all of these things and more.

But sometimes I am tired; I am run down.

Sometimes I don't want to give it my all any more.

I'm not saying that being tired or sometimes frustrated alters how much we, as mothers, love our children, but really at the end of the day when we've played more roles than Kevin Bacon, we are tired.

Sometimes we need a break. Sometimes we need to whine because our kids have been whining all day. Sometimes we need arms to hold us and a shoulder to cry on. Sometimes we have bad days that even the purple haired two headed tickle monster can't fix.

And that's ok.

It is not written any place that becoming a mother means we also become super human.

Sometimes we need each other. We need other mother's to talk to, to comfort, to support and to lift up.

I think lately we've forgotten this a little. Mommy wars and what not raging around us. Telling each other that once you have children you become their sacrificial lamb and if you aren't willing to be just that you should not have children. One upping each other over birthday parties and crafting the ultimate Pinterest perfect project. We sit smugly in our paper houses and light matches while one of our own struggles.


I'm done with that. I'm done with comparing myself to others. I done with smiling demurely while someone tells me how I've got it all together.

I'm done pretending that I became superhuman and perfect when I became a mother.

Because I am not superhuman. I am a mother, a mother who is flawed, not perfect, prideful, scared of asking for help and oftentimes flat exhausted.

I am a mother, I need the support of other mothers and I want to support other mothers.

 {Would you take a minute to support me and vote? It only takes two clicks! Once on the banner below and then once on the owl on the left! Many thanks friends!}
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January 26, 2013

Clean Mama Printables Giveaway


Next up in the Celebrating The New Year Giveaway is Clean Mama Printables! Check out what Erin has to say and enter this awesome 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.
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*I was given a copy of the 2013 Starter Kit for review. All opinions are mine and not influenced by outside sources. 

January 21, 2013

Valentine's Day SOLVED: Datevitation Review & 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? 

I Got Your Crazy

If you follow me on Instagram then you saw the comment that someone left me last Friday on my post from Thursday. If you didn't here ya go.


{Oh and for those of you playing the home game, BSC means Bat Shit Crazy, although what makes bat shit crazier than other shit is beyond me. Maybe it's because of the word batty means a little nuts? Personally, I prefer the phrase nuttier than squirrel poo, but to each his own.}

Now my first reaction was physical. I have never gotten a downright personally attacking mean comment before. Yes, I've gotten ones that have pissed me off, but I've never had one that attacked me. So yes, my face flushed red, my heart beat really fast, and I was upset for a split second. I'm a nice person so when others are mean I just don't understand it. I could have left that part out because now you know you got under my skin -- just for a second -- which was, I am sure, your goal, but I share my REAL life here, not just the happy stuff.

I could spend a lot of time here extolling my virtues as a mother, telling you things that refute the bat shit crazy accusation. I could use sarcasm (because if the good Lord gave me anything it was a heavy dose of sarcasm -- oh and seriously curly hair) that would cut you down into five million pathetic little pieces. I won't, though, because the only person who needs to think I am a good mother is my daughter. I don't need to convince anyone else of it.

I could tell you how the Xanax like Tylenol thing makes you look nuts because I haven't taken one of those in over a year. Plus, I don't take Tylenol like Tylenol because it makes me throw up.

I could go on and on.

I'll stop here, though because you've already had your piece of my time.

You don't get anymore of my time or my happy.

Oh and one more thing you should know. After being upset for a split second I remembered what my own mother told me: "Kill em with kindness, Sarah. Pray for your enemies."

So that's what I did. I prayed for the Lord to shower you with His grace, for Him to create in you a clean and peaceful heart, for Him to remove all bitterness and affliction from your life so that you might know joy and happiness as I am oh so lucky enough to.

You share hate. I share grace.

Peace be with you, friend.

{Would you take a minute to vote friends? TBB just reset and I would LOVE to stay in the Top 10! It just takes two clicks, one of the owl on the banner below then once on the owl on the left! Many thanks!}
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January 20, 2013

I'm Here

After receiving a very awful comment on my post last thursday I took a bit of time to reevaluate my space here. I considered changing my blog to private and then just walking away. I don't need that negativity in my life. 

But.. I LOVE IT HERE! I love all of you, one person doesn't change that. 

So, I'm choosing to be here to stay here. I won't be run off by mean people. I'm stronger than that. I will continue to share my REAL life with you, flaws and all.

Today Top Baby Blogs Reset its votes. Your support has kept me in the top 10 over the past few months. I'd love to stay there. I know I've found a lot of my new readers from Top Baby Blogs. So I humbly ask for your vote. Even though I KNOW that trolls go looking for people to harass on sites like Top Baby Blogs. I won't be run off. 

Thank you so so so much for your support and I really I hope I still have it. 

Please take a minute to vote. Simply click on the banner below then on the owl on the left. It takes two clicks that's all. You can vote once every 24 hours, please come back and vote again tomorrow! 


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January 19, 2013

College Just Got Easier

In typical long term planner style Chris and I have already started a college savings fund for Evie. It's not huge, but with small monthly contributions and the occasional gift from her grandparents we've got enough for oh, say one class?

The cost of a university education is high and going up. I discovered all of this while researching what it would cost for me to return to school to get my Master's of Arts in Teaching. It's costly folks. The books alone are insanely expensive.

That's why I was excited to find out about Campus Book Rentals a company that allows you to rent instead of buy your texts books saving you hundreds (probably thousands) of dollars. Just renting this one book would have saved me my parents over 50%! Even better you get all the perks of owning your own books!

  • You get 40-90% off of bookstore prices
  • You get free shipping both ways
  • There are flexible renting periods
  • You get to highlight in the text books (yes!!!)
  • Best of all they donate to their humanitarian partner, Operation Smile with every text book rental.
I really wish that I had an option like this available when I was at CU. I have so many old text books that I couldn't sell that are now out of date; that alone is motivation to try this out next time!

If you are in school or know someone who is check out Campus Book Rentals!

This post is Sponsored by Campus Book Rentals. All opinions are my own and are not for sale.*
 
 
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January 17, 2013

Tiffany Kuehl Designs Giveaway!

Welcome to the second giveaway in our Celebrating The New Year Giveaway Event! 
Erin {The View from 510} and I 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
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You're Not Advocating, You're Shaming

Although, I find it a little ridiculous that I have to preface this I'm going to. Most of you who know me know I wouldn't hurt a fly, I'm sensitive to a fault and just as protective. I believe VERY strongly in a mother's right to feed her kid however she sees fit with out public or private recrimination. So keep that in mind as you read this. It's been on my heart for two weeks now and I've waited to write this in an attempt to let my OWN emotional response settle.
 
I see it a lot on people's Facebook profiles, twitter and blog "about me's": breastfeeding advocate. I often wonder exactly what that entails. I would consider myself an advocate for many things among them, clearing the cloud of mystery and stigma that surrounds mental health issues particularly ante- and post- natal mental health and the prevention of child and animal abuse. I feel very strongly about those things.
 
I would imagine that a breastfeeding advocate probably aims to educate others and protect a woman's right to feed her child in any manner she sees fit at any time in any place without being shamed for it. I'm just guessing here. I didn't breastfeed Evie past four weeks so I don't really know what being a breastfeeding advocate entails. Please if you are let me know what it means I would really love to know.
 
However, there comes a point when advocacy jumps the track and takes a 180 degree turn into shaming formula feeding mothers.
 
A few weeks ago this photo appeared on my Facebook timeline four times. Four. Each time I saw it I was livid.
 
 
 
And ok, I get it I really do. This graphic is intended to remind mothers to avoid doctor's who aren't supportive of their breastfeeding goals. I fully agree, doctors should NOT be offering formula to mothers who tell them they are exclusively breastfeeding. It's very frustrating I am sure (I've never experienced this so I don't know) and absolutely counterproductive to helping a mother who wants to breastfeed.
 
I get that not everyone is as lucky to have such fantastic support, as a mother, from their child's pediatrician as I have. 
 
However, in that clever pithy little graphic is the message that feeding your child formula is akin to giving him or her cigarettes. No matter how you want to look at it, no matter if you think it's not the point the metaphor is there. In order for this graphic to even have a point you have to compare formula feeding to something negative.
 
Another scenario: An obese man, wanting to lose weight and a cheeseburger.
 
Another scenario: A drug addict wanting help and a syringe of heroin.
 
The list goes on and on and on.
 
That's not advocacy, that's shaming.
 
Shaming formula feeding mothers while hiding behind the word advocacy is nothing new and I am so bone tired weary of it.
 
Advocate, advocate, advocate -- I beg of you! Be an advocate for those who are scared to talk for themselves and educate, but don't do it by shaming someone else. Don't do it in words with hidden judgement and heartless cruelty.
 
If this is how you advocate then I'm sorry for you; you won't win supporters with a mean judgemental graphic that shames someone for a choice or maybe for something that was out of their control. You merely create a forum for people who think just like you to talk about how right they are.
 
If this is how you advocate you are not gaining support, you're driving people away.
 
If this is how you advocate then you lose my respect, and if you are advocating for anything you should know that in order for you to have a chance of changing the tides you are fighting you need the respect of others. You cannot broker change without respect. Period.
 
 
If you feel strongly about this too, on either side, I invite you to weigh in. However, I must ask that you remain respectful and kind, to me and to anyone else who might comment. Thank you.
 
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January 16, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Winter Storm Helen

The past two days we've been "battling" winter storm Helen as she has dropped tons of freezing rain on us Southerners.  I say battling because well, there's a bunch of ice on stationary objects like trees, but barely any on the road. Regardless, when there's a threat of snow or ice we Southerners are required to head to the nearest Kroger or WalMart and stock up on eggs, milk, bread and water. Seriously, those aisles in the grocery stores are full of tumbleweeds come sunset. Luckily, I did shopping for the week on Saturday so aside from some K cups and disposable dipes (in case the power went out) I didn't have to brave the madhouse! We are also required to forget how to drive and thus, cause more wrecks than the ice itself. It's not perfect, but hey, it's home!
Aside from the required grocery shopping and bad driving we also get dismissed from work and school early which results in extra family time spent in PJs snuggling on the couch! This is why I LOVE winter weather it always means more family time!
 
Winter Storm Helen in Pictures
 
 
 {Early daycare pick up & snack at home!}
 

{Boo! In my jammies!}


{A little (almost) nakey time!}




{Early daycare pickups and napping toddlers mean couch and coffe time for this momma!}


{We both just woke up from nap. Evie and her dog Maggie.}


{Shut up, yes our Christmas lights are still up. The weather has been too bad to get them down!}


{Ice covered berries}


Anyone else out there getting winter weather?
 
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January 14, 2013

Bum Luv Cloth Diaper Review & GIVEAWAY!

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


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!*
 
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