Saturday, March 30, 2013

Baby Butler is 33 Weeks!!

Baby Growth: Baby Jase is over 4 lbs and about the size of a pineapple!! He is losing his little wrinkles and looking more and more like a little newborn!!

My Symptoms: I’ve still had that burning under my boobs, but it really only bothers me when I lay down. It’s strange because it feels like it’s my skin stretching & being rubbed raw. Sometimes it makes it tough to fall asleep…

I’ve also got one spot in my back (low, almost at the top of my booty on the left side) that bothers me, but I’ve been going to the chiropractor so hopefully that will help clear it up. (By the way, he said he’s helped turn several breech babies with adjustments, so maybe worth a shot if your baby is breech?)

Other than that I still feel good & am moving and getting around pretty well. I am loving the Bradley exercises

Weight/Belly: Right at +21 lbs pre-pregnancy weight (from my first appointment where I found out I was pregnant). I haven’t gained any weight really in a couple weeks, but my belly is still growing!! Looks a little lower to me. No stretch marks as of yet, but the veins are very visible & my belly button is serious. Sometimes I feel like he is running out of room & my belly is just going to pop (and I know I still have a long way to go!) because my tummy is so tight. The only time anything feels uncomfortable is when he pushes out on my belly button.  Still loving coconut oil daily…IMG_2896IMG_2898

Maternity Clothes: OVER THEM!! So glad the upcoming week is Spring Break so I can just wear comfy workout clothes all week. My fave!

Movement: He’s still a little wild man in there!! His back/booty are pushing out around the center of my tummy (our awesome midwife felt around my belly & gave me an idea of how he’s positioned)…so he’s definitely towards the front. I can see lots of rolling around and he is still moving a good bit for being so far.

Sleep: I overslept for work…again….twice!!! What the heck?!? I NEVER do that!!! I think it was from getting ready to have the shower at our house. You know that means LOTS of cleaning, so that wore me out.

I’m obviously needing some sleep, so again, I’m looking forward to catching up some over Spring Break.

I have to switch from side to side several times throughout the night, and because that is an act of congress, it wakes me up every time I have to roll over. I’m not really waking up to go potty though.

Cravings: Just sweets. I really miss the MNS vitamins that helped me get control of my sweet tooth…I try to avoid sugar because I can really do some damage if we have it around.

Oh, and ORANGES!! I have eaten 1-2 oranges EVERY day this whole pregnancy. Jase loves citrus & moves like crazy every time I eat an orange or drink my lemon water.

Best Pregnancy Moments This Week: Our last shower!!! LOVED seeing some sweet friends!!

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And getting the nursery ALMOST done! I LOOOOOVE it!!!! Jon worked like a champ to finish his forever long to- do list& get the nursery almost done, & mom and Tammie came over while I was at work one day to help organize some of his goodies in the closet. I seriously could NOT have done it without all my helpers!

Here’s a little preview:

(All the pillows are for the glider/rocker…)

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Goals for next week: Oh I have LOTS!!!  Take a long walk & long bath every day. Finish thank you cards. Finish the nursery completely. Bradley exercises. Lots of reading.  Get house TOTALLY clean & ready. Pack hospital bags. Install car seat. Complete registry. Go to Costco to stock up on the essentials. Organize our office. Finish birth plan. Visit with some friends. Get my teeth cleaned. Spend a special weekend with my boo!

Thank goodness for a week off of work, huh? I have quite a to-do list, but it’ll feel SOOOO good to have all that done so I can just coast & rest for the next few weeks until our lil man gets here!!

Thoughts: I’m a little behind on blogging, so I honestly can’t remember what I was thinking during week 33. That’s why I need to stay caught up!! But we are excited for sure ready to meet our little blessing!! I hope he stays in there till he is 39-41 weeks so he has time to fully develop, but I can’t WAIT to hold him in my arms!!

 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Eating Clean: An AWESOME Weight Loss Story

I am SO excited to be sharing Meredith's story with you guys today!! I just love this lil cutie to pieces!!  She is truly an inspiration & proves that you CAN change your lifestyle if you just make your mind up to do it. I'm not going to steal her thunder & tell her story, but I'll tell you that by eating clean, she was able to go from over 200 lbs down to 135, and she feels better than EVER!

Eating clean is SO important...for our health, our well being, our weight, our energy, our confidence. It is not always easy, but it CAN be done, and the results are immense. Check out her incredible story & be prepared to be inspired!!

Meet my friend, Meredith...
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Hi there! My name is Meredith and I blog over at More Than Faith . I am thrilled to be giving the beautiful Mrs. Butler and her little Jase a blogging break by doing a guest post!

Here are some facts about me:
I used  to weigh 208 pounds. I now weigh 135 pounds. I have a daughter who is turning one. I have been on many diets. Eating clean changed my life. 

Having been over 200 pounds for several years, I had tried the South Beach Diet and Weight Watchers several times. I always lost some weight on them (15-20 pounds), but eventually it crept back up. I did not have a desire to stick to them.  I prayed about it often asking for the strength to do what I had to do be healthy. 

About a year and a half ago I started reading Danielle’s blog. I admired her health status and I had never heard of Clean Eating before so I was intrigued and started checking out some of her archives about it. I emailed her about my struggles to lose weight and she was so nice and told me to (and I quote) “Eat as clean as possible.” So that is what I did.  And WOW…..there are no words to describe my results.
 
I bought the book she had talked about : The Eat Clean Diet Turbocharged. I stuck to the rules and within two weeks, the weight started falling off more rapidly than I had ever seen. I was doing light exercise 3 or 4 times a week as well.  Every time I saw the numbers on the scale, I would experience an intense joy, a satisfaction like no other, a “high on life” if you will. And I was hungry for more (hehe). Never had I been on an eating plan that made me WANT to wake up the next day and do it again. After eating this way for months, my body was accustomed to it and I was no longer having to work hard to “stay on a diet.” I had a fabulous new lifestyle that I wasn’t planning on changing.
 
As the scale dropped every week, I told myself that my goal weight would be 150. I am 5’5 and that seemed reasonable. But when 150 came and I realized I could do even better, I kept going.  I am now 135 pounds. 
 
Before ...holding my niece
 After
After I had lost the weight, I emailed Danielle just to let her know that she had changed my life. She is brave for putting herself out there on her blog and sharing her thoughts and knowledge and I thought she deserved to know that she helped me. 

The changes: The changes in my life following this weight loss were endless. I have always been an outgoing person but when I was heavy, I became a hermit and was scared to speak my mind. I was embarrassed to go to social functions. Now I can't wait to go to functions and I enjoy shopping again. I had lost all confidence in myself. I was having trouble with my hip hurting constantly. I had no energy . I never felt  “great”. Now, All of that is just the opposite. I feel like a powerhouse! I let my true personality shine through because now I am not hiding from the world! I have energy to keep up with my baby. My husband is so proud of me and so am I.
 
Now that I am healthy, I have my splurge meals (every girl needs ice cream, wine, or an enchilada now and again), but I get right back to my normal eating and I have not gained any weight back. The funny thing is that I used to crave the bad stuff: doughnuts, Cheeze-its and coke, etc. But now I crave avacado with tomatoes and an apple with almond butter is like dessert to me. Funny how things change if you give your body the time it needs.
 
I often wonder where I would be right now in my health journey if had I not stumbled upon a little blog called “Butler Party of 2”. I thank God that I am where I am today and mark my words: I will never go back to eating the way I used to. I am not only healthy physically, but my heart, mind, and emotions are healthy too now. Thanks, Danielle! I can’t wait to see pics of your little blessing!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Baby Butler is 32 Weeks!!

Baby Growth: And we are 8 MONTHS!!!!  Finding out so early meant the first part of this pregnancy went by sooooo slow, but these last couple months (weeks especially) have FLOWN by!!! 
Jase is around 4 lbs now and 19 inches now, and he COULD be growing hair too!  It looked like he had hair during our 3D ultrasound, but it was too early to tell. I could really care less either way.


My Symptoms: Braxton Hicks!! Who knew?!? I’ve been having them this past week and a half & had no idea until I looked them up (thank you to my L&D nurse who commented). I was expecting them to be painful, so I think that’s what threw me off, but they don’t really hurt. It feels more like a tightening (where I thought he was just pushing out really hard) in the center or my tummy & below my belly button.
Last Tuesday I had some lower abdomen discomfort (same day as my doctor’s appt- she said it was probably round ligament pain). I thought it might have been from working out too hard (which seemed unlikely because my workouts are pretty low key), but I think it was just my body stretching and getting ready.  I felt completely back to normal by Wednesday, although I had SEVERAL people tell me I looked like I had dropped some that next day.
My hands started swelling a little for a day or two as well, but I increased my water intake and that went away.
I do have one spot in my lower back that is uncomfortable when I am doing Bradley stretches, so I’m going to the chiropractor to get an adjustment & hopefully that will take care of it.  I try to get Jon to massage it for me, but he’s pretty terrible at massages. (Hey, he can’t be perfect!)
Weight/Belly: At my appointment last week I was the same weight I had been at the previous two appointments (almost exactly), so at 32 weeks I am right at +20 lbs from pre-pregnancy weight. I’m pretty certain a big chunk of that is in my boobs!! (I DEF prefer normal size to these monsters!) No stretch marks yet. (Stretch marks are genetic & have a lot to do with skin elasticity, but it’s still important to keep skin hydrated so I am using Coconut Oil daily on my tummy.)  My belly button is all the way out & not very attractive (ha!), but I am definitely mostly belly. Jon can no longer “palm” my belly with one hand either- it takes two!
Maternity Clothes: Thankfully it’ll be warm after Jase is born so I  can start rockin’ all those comfy cotton dresses that I love. SO ready for some (consistently) warm weather!!
I’m also thinking about writing a post on maternity clothes on a budget too.  I know everyone has different priorities, but for us, clothes are just not really a priority.  Jonathan & I do not spend very much money on clothes at all (and hey, we still look decent!). I have spent less than $100 total on maternity clothes, and part of that was even for new sports bras AND a formal dress! And I still feel like I look pretty cute. (I get compliments, so something must be workin’.) I think the key is to accessorize! (Thankful for the Mart so I can have lots of cute accessories on the CHEAP).
Honestly, I am MUCH more concerned about what I am putting IN to my body than what I am putting ON it.  I’m sure I’ll get some eye rolls for that one, but just seems like a pretty smart and logical concept. And after hearing Dr. Redman speak this weekend about nutrition during pregnancy, it just further validated everything I’ve read & studied. Nutrition during pregnancy plays a HUGE role in your child’s metabolic and overall health as they grow up. I’m kicking myself now for some of my food choices (especially early on), and although I’ve definitely eaten healthier in the past few months, this is a time when proper nutrition is absolutely crucial. At least I know for next time & I can help educate other expecting moms on the importance of this!!
Movement: I feel lots of rolls, elbows, knees, shoulders, etc. now The movement is so different now than the kicks in the beginning…It’s hard to describe, but feels more like the whole lava lamp thing. They are very strong & intense movements, so I can tell he is starting to get a little snug in there!!
Sleep: I miss a good night’s sleep!! I am not getting in bed early enough (such a simple solution- GO TO BED EARLIER!!!!! WHY is that so hard for me??). It takes me a while to get comfortable when I first get in the bed, and I wake up a few times each night to turn over. I HATTTTTTTTE to be on my back for even a second….I feel like I can’t breathe at all. I hope they don’t put me in that position very often at the hospital because I HATE it.
And crazy story. (Yea, livin’ the wild life if staying up too late doing laundry and oversleeping for work is your idea of a “crazy story,” huh?) Monday night I stayed up pretty late putting away clothes & doing the dishes (WHY? I have no idea! Nesting, maybe??). Tuesday morning I woke up to Jonathan calling me, & when I looked at my phone to answer I panicked when I realized it was 8:30!!!! And I was still IN THE BED!!!! {P.S. I’m supposed to be at work at 8:15!!!} This is the first time that has EVER happened to me. Normally I am at work doing morning duty by 8:30 and he never calls at that time, but he was calling to check on me because he heard there was a wreck on the road I take to work. I am SO glad he called! And so thankful for my friend at work that covered my class till I could get there. Whew! Not a good feeling.
Cravings: No cravings this week. I did make some “healthy tacos” (with lean ground organic turkey, Ezekial tortillas, & Greek yogurt- which tastes just like sour cream!) & they were SUPER yummy!! I’ve also still been eating an orange EVERY single day. Guess that’s my “thing.”
Best Pregnancy Moments This Week: We had our last childbirth class this week, and I am SO GLAD we decided to take the classes!! Jon & I both learned a lot & feel way more prepared, so I definitely recommend them. (Double plus if you can take them with a friend like we were able to do….made it more fun for sure!!) Of course Laura & I were teachers’ pets because we were taking LOTS of notes & asking lots of questions! She said that was typical from teachers and nurses- ha!
Another great moment this week was spending time with Megan & Dana (and meeting some of their sweet friends!) while Mrs. Mary taught us how to do applique!!! Woo hoo!!!! I’m PUMPED I know how to do that…I have a feeling that will be a very useful skill in the future!!
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Ignore my rough looking picture! I didn’t think anything could be more exhausting than Fridays as a teacher. Boy was I wrong! Fridays…as a teacher…AND 8 months PREGNANT….are by FAR the most exhausting ever!!!
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Oh, and getting our nursery bedding back!!! We went with all grey and white so I can use it again for future Baby Butler’s (& use PINK accents if it’s a girl), but opted for some blue on some of it just to jazz it up. Mom (seriously, I think I am surrounded by some of THE most talented people ever) made a couple of pillows for our big chair to help bring out the blue. Can’t WAIT to see the whole nursery put together!
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Goals for next week: GO TO BED EARLIER!!!  Finish thank you cards. Work on nursery. Practice Bradley exercises/techniques with Big Jon.
Everything else on my list is being postponed until Spring Break….and my game plan is to get everything DONE that week so I can just kinda coast until the baby comes.
Thoughts: This was a little bit of a tough week for us. It was super, super busy!!!! Jonathan is SWAMPED at work (which is DEFINITELY a blessing seeing as how he is in construction… and I am NOT complaining about that part because it’s an answered prayer)…But between being overloaded at work, finishing their cabinet shop, and finishing our nursery & table, we haven’t had a whole lot of quality time together this week. {Insert pouty wife here} It was pretty stressful for him because he did not get ANY breaks….he had something to do all day and night, EVERY day, and although we are used to life being like that during the week, it’s a little tougher when you don’t have a chance to recover on the weekend.
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Plus, we didn’t get to work out, which is something we both NEED. It helps me have more energy and sleep better at night, and it helps him relieve stress….so that was a bummer too.  Thankfully next week we seem to be slowing down some. I am also REALLY looking forward to a weekend “away” with him soon! Just us!!!
I definitely won the husband jackpot when it comes to being a hard worker though, & I SO appreciate that about him!! And not only is he just a hard worker, but he is MEGA talented!!! Check out this GOOOORGEOUS table he built!!!
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On another note, I cannot BELIEVE how nice everyone is when you’re pregnant!!!! I feel like I’m being treated like royalty everywhere I go. People give up their seats, hold doors, make polite small talk, smile, help you carry things…it’s crazy! And I LOVE it! Hahaha! I was loading the crib mattress into my car the other day & two young guys came rushing over to help me, and then took my buggy back.  I could sure get used to everyone being so kind and helpful.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Even More 24 Day Challenge Results…(And more FAQs answered)

Jonathan is currently on day 14 of his 24 Day Challenge and he is feeling AWESOME!!! He is down about 3- 4 lbs already and can tell his pants are fitting looser.  Gotta admit, I am a little jealous & wish I could do it with him because I LOOOOVE the challenge!! But hello, obviously 8 months pregnant is not the time for me to be cleansing OR losing weight. He’s doing it with his business partner/buddy instead. (It’s awesome to do the challenge with a partner for accountability, encouragement, and maybe even a little friendly competition.)
Here’s his BEFORE: (Yes, I know…usually you don’t post before pics until you have the after to go with it. Gotta wait10 more days….sorry!)
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When I’m not pregnant (which is obviously all the time prior to these last 8 months! ha!), we do the challenge together EVERY 3 months like clock work. It’s important for us because it helps us keep on track and the (gently & uneventful) cleanse is AWESOME for flushing out toxins & resetting our system so we can absorb nutrients better.  We do it to maintain our weight of course (everyone is maintaining their weight, whether trying to gain, lose, or maintain), but mainly for health purposes. After hearing Dr. Redman (from the  Science & Medical Advisory Board) speak this past weekend, it just further validated for us why these products are safe, healthy, and necessary.

It keeps your body functioning the way it should, your metabolism burning, restores balance, and fills in nutritional gaps of your diet. I wrote a post a while back about WHY we need supplements to begin with.
So, here are a few of the FAQs I get asked often: (Here’s a previous FAQs post I wrote about the challenge.)
1. What IS the challenge?
This little 5 minute video gives you a pretty good overview, and you can learn more HERE too. In a nutshell, it’s a jump start to a healthier lifestyle.
What is the 24 Day Challenge?
And it comes with ALL this!

And WHY do I need it??
This pretty much sums it up.
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2. What do I do after the challenge?
This is where your coach comes in. If it’s me (and I’d LOVE to help you get started! If you can’t tell, I am SUPER passionate about helping people live healthier lifestyles), you & I will talk about your goals and decide towards the end of your challenge what you’re looking to accomplish next to determine the next steps for you. Wanna keep losing? Start leaning out/toning up? Build some muscle mass? Maintain your current size? It’s totally customizable & we can figure out exactly what’s best for you. Of course you don’t HAVE to continue taking anything, but once you try the products, I’m pretty sure you’ll fall in love.
Here is what Jon & I take daily between our challenges:

Danielle: (Again, this is when I’m NOT pregnant. Here’s a list of what I’m taking now while expecting. I also added in Pro20 because I started taking that too after researching Bradley & the importance of nutrition during pregnancy. Protein is SO important for expecting mommies- 100+ grams a day- and that can be a little tough when meat is grossing you out & you have to be cautious about fish consumption, which is one of my go-to sources for protein.)
  • MNS
  • OmegaPlex
  • Catalyst & ThermoPlus
  • Meal Replacement Shakes
  • Spark & Rehydrate
  • Citrizinc
  • Arginine & 02 Gold before workouts
  • Post-Workout Recovery after workouts
Jonathan:
  • Coreplex
  • OmegaPlex
  • Probiotics
  • Joint Promotion
  • Clear Mood & Oasis
  • Spark
  • Before Workouts: Muscle Fuel + Arginine + Mass Impact
  • During Workouts: Rehydrate
  • After Workouts: Post-Workout Recovery (Nighttime Recovery after intense workouts)
  • When cutting grass: Rehydrate Gels
  • When golfing: Slam
3. What do I eat while on the challenge?
This Daily Virtual Coach gives you an idea of what each day on the challenge looks like, and here is a sample grocery list. What I love about the challenge is that it’s not a fad diet, diet pills, crazy weight loss system where you starve yourself, etc. It’s BASIC, HEALTHY EATING principles paired with the top nutritional supplements on the planet. The challenge just gives you the tools to get started & to maintain it as a true lifestyle change. Just gonna be honest….you have to have a desire to make some changes. If you want to keep eating your junk food every day, this is not the plan for you. But if you’re truly ready to make some changes, then this could be for you. You drink a LOT of water, eat lots of lean protein, veggies & fruit, & healthy complex carbs, & take your supplements the right way. (I can give you some meal suggestions too.) Here was our dinner one night last week just to give you an example (quick, easy, & delish!!!!).
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4. Can I afford it?
Well, that’s up to you. To us, it’s more of a question of “Can I afford NOT to?” First of all, we consider it an investment in our health. We would MUCH rather pay for prevention now than medicine/illness down the road.  Secondly, it has honestly been a trade out for us. We stopped drinking expensive coffee, quit eating out as much, and quit stopping at the gas station or driving through for random convenience foods. Plus, with our discount, the challenge costs less than $5 a day! The average American could save that by simply packing their lunch instead of eating out or going to Starbuck’s. Right?? Plus, you can become a member to get a discount.
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5. Is it really worth it?
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Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. Of course, that is simply our opinion. But YES!! I have heard nothing but RAVE reviews from all of our friends & family we have helped get started on Advocare. Especially with Spring/summer (bathing suits, shorts, tank tops, etc.) just around the corner!!!
6. Does it really work?
Yes. End of story.

My real life BFF Dana (pictured with me below) has posted some of her success...
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And of course my girl, Niki…who has had fantastic results. (You can read more of her story HERE!)

Oh, and this Nikki has her success story as well as our friend Jenn!


We could go on…

6. How can I order?
If you don’t mind paying retail (I mean, this is seriously worth EVERY red cent!) you can order HERE.
If you hate paying full price for anything like we do, you can become a member. It is $79 to become a member, and that comes with $50 of Spark & Slam.  You’ll get a 20% discount immediately (up to potentially 40%, which is where we are now), and the BEST part….NO monthly minimums, quotas, autoships, etc. It works JUST like a Sam’s or Costco membership!! If you do choose to share with others, you have potential to get paid by Advocare for the referrals (which is part of why lots of people start sharing…to get their products paid for), but of course you can just use the discount for yourself. HERE is the link if you decide to go that route.
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Those are some of the main questions I get often….but of course you can e-mail me if you have any other questions. I just thought I’d share because I know warmer weather is right around the corner, and lots of people are ready to refocus on their health (or just want to look better, we can be honest here). This is just such an AWESOME starting place for people looking to jump start a healthier lifestyle & we highly recommend it if you’ve been looking for something!

Friday, March 15, 2013

If you could live ANYWHERE…..Where???

A few years ago when we bought our house, we were so excited at the thought that we found our “forever home.”  Our house is above and beyond anything we could have expected, especially for our 'starter home’ as newlyweds. We have plenty of room for a growing family, & it’s in an AWESOME location. Our backyard backs up to a pasture (which is extremely calming); we can see & walk to the lake; we have some woods in our backyard with a creek; and yet we’re still just 20 min from the mall of GA & lots of restaurants and shopping.  It’s also less than an hour from Atlanta, which is very convenient. It’s about halfway between our parents too, & it’s a pretty quiet, nice area. We LOVE our house!!

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When we were first looking for houses, we I REALLY wanted to be in a subdivision. Jonathan grew up in a super small town, & when we first met he considered me a “city girl”….which is funny to those who know where I grew up (and who have ever lived in a ‘REAL’ city). We were total suburbia.  I grew up in a neighborhood and it was THE BEST experience!!!! We lived in a cul-de-sac where everyone was friends & looked out for each other. We had cookouts, pool parties, get- togethers, snowball fights, etc. There was lots of front yard football, basketball, and whiffle ball games; lots of flashlight tag & catching lightning bugs in the summer.  Our awesome neighbors came to every bake sale & lemonade stand I had in front of our house, and would have all the neighborhood kids over for cookies and Kool-aid, or hot chocolate and s’mores.  I was always playing with the neighborhood kids (who were some of my best friends), & many of my neighbors had a really big impact on my life. I have such sweet memories of that from my childhood, & I wanted our kids to experience the same thing.

And maybe it’s just where we live….but it is just NOT like that! We do live in a cul-de-sac and in a neighborhood. I really thought we’d be getting the best of all worlds because even though we have neighbors, we still have a lot of our own space (which is what sold Jonathan on it).  But…our neighbors are never outside. We have lived in our house for 2 years and have never even met many of them!!! I know that’s our fault too (I take total responsibility for not going to meet them, and that is one of my goals for this year- to go make friends with our neighbors), but it is still mind blowing to me. Growing up, if someone new moved in, we would all go over and take them some cookies or brownies and welcome them to the neighborhood.

So…Jon & I started talking a couple years ago (when we were SERIOUSLY considering moving out West with some of our friends- and Brian & Chels, we still haven’t crossed that off our list of possibilities!!)….and decided we want land. (Well, Jon wanted land from the beginning…I was hard core about a neighborhood.) We want a big garden, & maybe some animals, and a huge yard (I’m talkin’ ACRES!!) for our kids to run around in.  My parents live on land and it is incredible- so beautiful & peaceful over there.  Jonathan is a (really talented) contractor and knows a TON about building houses, so I think he would LOVE to build a house eventually (although honestly, it sounds like a nightmare to me-  I HATE making decisions about all the kind of stuff, and I know it can be CRAZY stressful!!).  We never really thought about any of this when we first bought our house because it is truly somewhere we could retire…and it’s nice to have that possibility, but we are definitely open-minded about the future. Our house will be a GREAT investment in a few years if we sell…

Our game plan is to pay our house off in the next few years (fast track to debt-freedom….woo hoo!!), & then we will have options. We could really move ANYWHERE because our business (Advocare) is re-locatable and can be done from anywhere. I LOVE that the possibilities are truly endless!

My parents traveled out West a few years ago and my mom described it as “the closest thing to Heaven she’s ever seen.” They loved the slow-paced lifestyle and that it was so laid back and peaceful, and even said they’d move out there in a heartbeat if they knew our whole family could go.

I have visited several states, but have only ever lived right here in good ole Georgia. I have to admit, I love being in the Bible belt. I love the manners, the holding of doors, and the Southern hospitality….but we are TOTALLY open to recommendations.

I’m not sure what the Lord has in store for us or where we will end up, but it is exciting to think about the POSSIBILITIES.

One of the (many) great things about the blog world is that I have access to people from ALL over the U.S.  So here’s what I want to know…

If YOU could live ANYWHERE….WHERE would you choose and why?? 

We just may have to look into it in the future….

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Just a little clarification…(Follow-up to “The Kind of Mother”)

Wowza!!! My last post on entering motherhood got some serious reactions, and although I knew some people would disagree, I do I feel like I need to clarify a few things so I don’t mislead people.  Some of the comments were a little humorous (Really….do people think I am going to totally neglect my children? Yep, welcome to the world Jase….good luck, buddy! I mean, give me a break).  But many of them made me sad. They were just further validation & confirmation of why over half of all marriages end in divorce. And why Christians are called to be a light now more than ever in a dark world where people are so blinded to the truth.

I want to start by staying this. I started this blog as a journal because I LOVE to write, & it’s awesome to have a place to express your thoughts.  It’s your own little space, and you can even add pictures and make it pretty! And then it became more about documenting our lives so our kids can have lots of these memories written down for them (and I still get everything put into blog books for them to hopefully appreciate some day).  Honestly though, I feel like over the past couple years, my blog has become more of a form of ministry for me. I share a LOT about the things I’m passionate about…my faith, being a good wife, investing in my health, etc. I know not everyone who reads agrees with my views, but if I can just touch one person, I am fulfilling my personal purpose through blogging.  I had one friend mention a while back that she didn’t feel like they were getting to read about ME anymore….but I am just doing what I feel is right.  My blog has progressed and changed (which is okay with me- no one is forced to read) so I can do what I feel like I’m called to do….TEACH.  So that is my goal with it now. Of course I want to continue to share about my life, document things, vent, etc., and I do. You better believe there will be LOTS of sweet pictures of my little man here in a few months!!! But more than anything, I like being able to share things the Lord lays on my heart, and thankfully the Lord has sent me confirmations (through many of your awesome e-mails and testimonies! THANK you for sharing them with me!) that this is the right path.

So with that, here are my thoughts on that last post. It was not a post about my “goals” for motherhood. Not ideals, not hopes, not plans, none of that. I think one of the benefits of me being a little older when starting my family (and I say ‘older’ lightly…I am only 27!!) is that I have a really solid head on my shoulders & am grounded in my faith.  I have put a LOT of prayer into entering motherhood and it is not a role I take lightly. I do not have any unrealistic expectations for myself because I am fully aware that I have NO IDEA what to expect.  I am entering a whole new realm here, so I will handle this in the same way as I have every other phase….Trusting GOD, & NOT leaning on my own understanding. (That may sound “super spiritual” to some, but it’s just the truth.) I have read lots of books, talked to lots of friends, taken the classes, prayed a LOT, & am as “prepared” as I can be for the unknown.  But I’m also realistic and know that as helpful as all of those things have been, I cannot know what to fully expect.  You certainly can’t go off what other people experience either because everyone’s experience is totally different!!  (That is something I have learned from listening to everyone’s stories about childbirth & labor….whew!) Of course I appreciate advice, and I do take it to heart (especially when it comes from Godly mothers whom I respect), but ultimately only the Lord knows what is in store for our little family. And I am THANKFUL for that!!!

I can honestly say I don’t have many expectations for myself as a mother (no matter what people may think of that statement) because I simply plan to let the Lord lead me & seek Him.  That is the BEST I can do, and that is how I can ensure I’m giving my children the best. When I get to Heaven, I will give account for how I raised my children. And I can guarantee you God isn’t going to pull up any kind of “goal list” I had for myself. I know that may sound silly to some, but I’ve found that the more I try to control things, the worse I screw them up. I am so thankful for that lesson the Lord has taught me! (And that I finally stopped being so dang stubborn & actually GET it!) And guess what that means? I am NOT in control. I don’t have to feel any kind of guilt; or like a failure; or like I’m not meeting anyone’s (including my own) expectations. I am not comparing myself to anyone. I am simply STRIVING to be the Proverbs 31 and Titus 2 woman described in the Word…and the good news is, that is totally NON-PRESSURE!!!! Whew, what a relief!!! Wanna know why?? Because my sole responsibility is to respond to the Lord and always be seeking Him, in everything. To STOP trying so hard and just let Him work through me.  If I can give up my control and give it to Him, things will go the way they are supposed to (and it majorly takes the stress and pressure off me!). Can I just tell you what a freeing feeling that is?? So many women put themselves in bondage (even though they have good intentions) but trying to control things they are not equipped to control.

Now, that is not an easy task because my flesh wants me to try to take over, but I am limiting God when I do that. I want to do my best to stay out of His way, let Him work in an through me so I can just be an instrument for him in the lives of others- primarily my husband and children.

Now I hope no one confuses that to think I am saying motherhood will not be hard work & I’m just going to sit around letting God do his thing. That’s not what I mean AT ALL.  Get real- I KNOW better. I know parenting is HANDS DOWN one of the most difficult, exhausting, challenging “jobs” I will ever have!!! (Yet also one of the most rewarding & so worth it!) I am beyond excited for this journey, and Jonathan feels the same way about being a dad.  We have waited a long time for this little blessing!!!

So here’s the deal. When I talk about putting Jonathan first, I am saying that because I understand what a challenge that is going to be. Not only is it natural instinct to put your children first, but you HAVE to put their needs first when they are a baby & young child. (DUH! I said that in my last post too? I guess some people missed that.) Putting my husband first does NOT mean I am going to neglect my child in any way!!! In fact, did y’all read that I am LEAVING my JOB so that I CAN be there with my child all the time?? And I plan to breastfeed for at least the whole first year…so I will pretty much be a milk machine & with my child a LOT. And when I am with them, they will get my attention, my love, etc. I already talk to Jase ALL THE TIME and he’s not even born yet!! So for those that think that’s what I meant, there is my clarification. It’s not like our little Jase is going to be fending for himself while I massage Jonathan’s feet or something. I am just saying that I still will focus on HIM and our MARRIAGE. Yes, I know that will take work, but I will do it.  I can say that with such confidence because I’m asking the Lord to help me do that, as I know it honors Him. I will do simply what HE calls me to, and putting my husband and children first is one of those things.

In fact, I think I will be able to do that even more after I have kids than I even do now!! Since I will be home, I can do the things I want to do for him- pack his lunch, make a healthy dinner, write him sweet notes to let him know how much I appreciate him, do things to help him, listen to him, etc. I do those things in the summer when I’m not working (and love every second of it!), so I have no doubt I will continue them after the baby.  One thing I have learned in my “busy life” is how to balance many responsibilities (that God calls me to) and do them well by allowing HIM to order my steps.  Another thing that will make that easier is that I truly ENJOY doing those things for him!!  Not only because he is my husband and I am absolutely crazy about him, but also since he treats me like such a queen, it makes my desire to serve him even stronger.

I also believe the Lord desires for us to have a Godly marriage where we seek Him and keep Him first. If you ask Him to bless & protect your marriage, He will. The Bible says in Matthew 7:7 "Ask and you shall receive,” and Matthew 21:22 says “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” God will honor our desire to keep Him first & have a Christ-centered marriage….I have ZERO doubts about that because He promises it to us in the Word. I have counseled women before who were struggling in their marriages, and the way Satan got his foot in the door in the first place is when those women were struggling in their own walks.  When they let their “armor” down, Satan creeped in….and they started believing the enemy’s Lies About Marriage. If I focus on honoring God in my own walk and Jon does the same, then together we can honor God in our marriage.

I also wholeheartedly believe we are ‘one’ because that is what the Scripture says. It’s not just a “quote” people say….it’s straight up from the Bible. Genesis 2:24 says “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” That means we are in a union that is NOT meant to be split up.  It does not say anywhere that our offspring are one with us (although there are Scriptures giving parents instructions on raising their children).

Jonathan and I simply do not believe in divorce because of what the Bible says about it, and we have both committed to making this work even in the tough times. And I know there will be some. (The Bible says not IF, but WHEN trials come.) Of course Satan wants to attack marriages…so that’s why we must work even harder to protect them!

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I feel as if I can truly say with confidence that we have and will continue to have a strong marriage because we work hard to meet each others’ needs & to both focus on our own relationships with the Lord FIRST, yet still strive to keep Christ the center of our marriage. We don’t have time to think about other people or focus on each other’s weaknesses because we are really busy focusing on each other’s strengths. And no, not all the time. We don’t have a perfect marriage. I am not the perfect wife and he is not the perfect husband. And I am not stupid- I know that neither of us are immune to the things of this world. But that is EXACTLY why we both understand and value the importance of PRAYER….for each other, our marriage, & our family. (Like I said, I’m not being na├»ve….I’m just saying that I trust when you are doing what you are supposed to be doing, God will bless that obedience.)

Now, on another note. I know I am responsible for raising that child up, and obviously I have taken my role as a mother very seriously, even while he’s in the womb. I do my VERY BEST to already let that baby hear me speak kindly to others; to pray out loud; to give him the BEST nutrients I can; to make sure I’m not putting anything harmful into my body; and to pray for him DAILY.  I also know he will be my child for the rest of my life. BUT, when he is grown, he will move away. Eventually, when all of those babies are gone, it will be just me and Jonathan. We both believe in investing in our marriage so that we will still have a strong relationship at that point. Once again, the Scripture says that you “leave and cleave,” so if it’s God’s will for Jase to have a wife and family, life will no longer be about him (although still my baby- of course- always!). I know cultivating a strong marriage goes way beyond just planning date nights and making time for each other, although that is important too. There is just way more to it than that. And in the process of focusing on our marriage, we will be providing the BEST possible environment for Jase. I want him to see that his Daddy & I are crazy about each other….to see our affection…and desire to spend time together. I can truly say Jonathan is my BEST FRIEND, according to my definition of what a best friend is. I SO enjoy spending time with him- even just talking, walking, laughing, playing- and I know he would say the same about me (and mean it). We’d rather be with each other than anyone else on the planet! That’s how marriage SHOULD be! (Of course not always….there will be times when you need your “you” time….so please don’t misinterpret that.

As far as not giving my child attention….Yes, I know that a problem in today’s society is that many people do not give their children enough attention. I am a teacher….if ANYONE knows that, it’s me. But at the same time, many parents also make their children believe the world revolves around them, and that can be equally as damaging. My point is that I want Jase to see me serving others still & fulfilling my calling as a believer. My ultimate calling is to the Lord. I am a believer, a wife, and a mother…and in that order. So I will continue serving, sharing, & teaching. Pretty simple. (Not sure how you could misinterpret that to think I meant I wasn’t going to pay my child any attention? That’s just ridiculous!)

I have seen through my own parents’ example what a blessing that is to see your parents giving selflessly. My mom and dad are THE most generous and giving people I know. Mean that. My whole life, I have watched them give to and serve others. Yes, of course their own family (duh! that’s kind of a given), but their biggest impression on ME was when they would give to others- others who could do nothing for them in return, but they simply did it because they were in need. And that’s what I’m talking about here. I want to model THAT kind of selfless love for my children. Those are some of the things that stick out most to be about my parents now as a grown adult….even though they were always there for us, very loving, supportive, and encouraging. My mom stayed home with me and spent a lot of time with me too, but seeing them be so giving has shaped me immensely and had a truly great impact on my life. No, I may not be able to attend all four services on Sundays anymore, but we WILL be in the house of the Lord. And Jon & I WILL continue to be active in ministry. If we don’t model that for our children, who do we expect to do it?

As far as the “being unclean 7 days” thing….just gonna be real. Jon & I have zero plans of ‘getting busy’ right after Baby Jase is born. But that’s not even what’s important to that statement. What’s important is that we are New Testament believers- and praise the Lord for that! That doesn’t mean we don’t believe the Old Testament. We believe EVERY word, in fact…And that those aren’t just "Bible stories”- they are Biblical TRUTHS!!!  But when Jesus came back and died on the cross for us, allowing the Holy Spirit to take residence in believer’s hearts, it broke us free from the chains of being subject to the Law. (The Law of the OT.) Even more so than that though, I want to clarify that we do not claim to live perfect lives. We honestly try our VERY best to follow the Bible. Do we fall short? Absolutely. Daily. That’s why we are to constantly renew our hearts and minds! Our goal is NOT to be perfect, it’s to strive to be as Christlike as possible. It’s a process called sanctification.  And we are thankful that He is just and forgives us in our shortcomings. So just because we know we fall short, that doesn’t mean “we may as well not bother.” We certainly don’t pick and choose the things we want to follow. It’s just that sometimes we fall short…it’s part of the fallen nature of man.

SOOOO…..

Longest blog post ever! And unfortunately the ones who I wish were reading it are the ones who “vowed to never read again.” Ha! Still, I feel better being able to clear up the misconceptions I apparently created from that first post.

Our little family will not be perfect. My marriage will not be perfect. And I will fall short as a wife and mother. But our family WILL be in order, the way God designed our family to be. For those who think it’s not going to happen, please be sure to check back throughout the coming years so you can see that we truly can do ALL things through Christ.

Hair Me Out: How to Get Bouncy Curls

Well…If you know me well, you may have almost skipped this post because you don’t even want to read a “Danielle Hair Tutorial.” No worries, I am NOT the one doing a hair tutorial! This is what happened the last time I attempted to curl my hair (no really, I was going for the look Ashley got below).
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Yes, I know. It doesn’t look like I even brushed it….much less that it came into contact with a curling iron. Thankfully I have a fabulous hair dresser friend who is SUPER talented & agreed to write a guest post for me. Mostly to teach me (I think she feels sorry for me and my lack of abilities), but I thought some of you may enjoy too! This is the beautiful Ashley from Baseball Diamonds & Hairspray, & she is the brilliant cosmetologist who hooked me up with this hair & makeup a while back:
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And now I’ll let her take it away to do what she does….& I’m takin’ notes!!
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Welcome to another edition of
Today’s tutorial is on how to get those bouncy curls and get them to last all day!
The tools you will need:
comb
bobby pins
1in curling iron
heat protectant spray
hairspray
:: Hair before starting..
:: Remember to use a heat protectant spray on each section before applying heat.
:: My heat setting on the iron was Medium.
:: You can also add volumizing powder at the root for extra lift.

My favorite is
Let's get started!

:: Working in smaller sections, I started with the curling iron almost at the scalp and wrapped the section around the rod.
:: As you slide the curling iron out of the curled section, keep it in place and pin with a bobby pin. This will allow the section to cool and lock in the curl. Continue with the sectioning all over.
:: I left my bangs out because I am super picky about them and I will bend these later in with the rest of the curls.
::I also curled the hair away from my face.
:: After letting the hair cool, remove all of the pins.

:: Gently run your fingers through the curls to break up the sectioning.
:: This is when I slightly bumped my bangs with the curling iron.

 
:: You can also tease the hair lightly at the crown.
:: Then spray with Hairspray!
I promise these curls bounce and stay! I took these pictures several hours before Coach came home, I had been running my fingers through my hair doing things around the house, and when he walked in the door he greeted me with "Well hello curly."

Happy Curling!
 
 
Lots of Love,
Ashley

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Jase’s Family Shower!!

My family throws some serious business showers!!! My mama is the PINTEREST QUEEN (she is my favorite person to follow on Pinterest!)…and the great thing is, she actually brings all the ideas to life that most of us just pin. She is SUPER talented & crafy!!  Come to think of it, she might be one of the most talented people I know. She can do EVERYTHING & always has THE cutest ideas!!! I can’t wait till I can stay home & spend more time with her…there is a LOT I want her to teach me how to do!

So we had our family shower this weekend, and it was such a blast! (Sorry, I know I need to chill out with all the exclamation points, but I am just really excited….ha!). It was a GREAT turnout & I loved seeing so many of our friends/family there. It was a really, really nice surprise for Chelsi to come! I didn’t think she was going to be able to make it all the way from Tifton, & it was an AWESOME surprise to see her!!! Made my already great day even better!

Of course we had a spread, as usual….yum!! Huge shout out to my Aunt Terry for helping out with all the cooking & food. LOVE when she helps cook!!

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And of course my mom’s specialty….the dessert tables!

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SO cute!! And she handmade & hand painted all of the little decorations. I so appreciate how much effort she puts into every little detail…it makes everything extra special (and cute!).

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I mean, seriously…

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Jonathan’s sister, Jade, is a really talented baker & cake decorator (she made the groom’s cake for our wedding too & did an awesome job), so we asked her to make the cake for the shower. We had NO IDEA she was going to go ALL OUT with this bad boy!!! Check it out…is that not SO cute??? The little monkeys on top are our little Butler family, even complete with Jon’s UGA hat.

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And the blocks (made out of rice krispies treats….everything was edible!) spelled out JASE. SO ADORABLE!! And soooooo stinkin’ yummy!!! The bottom was vanilla with cream cheese icing, & the top was chocolate for her bro. It was SO GOOD.

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I love how excited Aunt Jade is about her new little nephew!!

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Even the balloon/lantern collage was PRECIOUS!!! (& WAY bigger in person!)

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It’s all about the details.

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Jonathan & I had such a great day & our little family was  SO beyond spoiled. We were BLOWN away with everyone’s generosity & love, and I feel sooooo much more prepared now! (We got a lot of the things we were really needing taken care of, whew! What a relief!)

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Oh, and had to show this off! One of my super talented cousins MADE this!!!! & Jon has a shirt to match!! (Check out Big Jon’s arms….owww owwww!!! And he’s not even flexing…STUD!)

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And how stinkin’ cute is this!! One of my nieces drew this on the white board my mom has on the back door. Pretty good sounding out for a kindergartner!! (Or 1st grader, depending on which of the 3 did this….I’m guessing Gracie?)

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I know I say it every time, but I am SO BEYOND thankful for all of the incredibly loving & supportive friends and family we have.  I know everyone is not as fortunate to have such a strong support system and we are truly blessed. So grateful for all the people God has placed in our lives and that Baby Jase gets to enter this world already so loved.