12 Months

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Well, I’m only a month late in updating that our baby girl officially turned ONE year old! There aren’t enough words to describe how much joy this little lady has brought to our family over the past year. Her energy, her spirit, her laughter, her funny faces – she has blessed us every single day. She has been the perfect addition to our family, the perfect little sister for James, and certainly carries an incredibly important role in our family!!

Neely is brave and adventurous! She isn’t afraid of getting messy, in fact, if she’s presented with dirt or mud or leaves she prefers to touch as much as possible, and even get little tastes in here and there. Once she started walking there was no stopping her, and she tends to speed-walk from place to place now! She doesn’t want to be left out of ANY excitement so she has learned that to keep up with big brother, she needs to move quick!

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Speaking of her brother, Neely is so in love with James. But in true second-child fashion, she loves to pick on him 🙂 She pulls his hair and takes his toys and pinches and bites – but I’m sure it’s all done in love! Wherever James is and whatever he is playing with, she wants to be right there too!

Neely got a new play kitchen for her birthday and she loves playing with all the foods and silverware and cups! She is constantly chewing on something so all the kitchen supplies work well for that. She also decided recently that she likes to suck on a pacifier… I never knew a child could decide at age 1 that they want a paci but hey, we don’t mind so much! She doesn’t depend on it for sleep, but she does depend on her taggy blanket! She has to have it to sleep so she can suck on the tags!

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Neely isn’t really saying any real words yet but she certainly can talk! She babbles all the time and it is especially cute to see her grab a book, flip through the pages, and babble and “read” the whole time.

She’s still enjoying her fruits and vegetables and is developing certain tastes and distastes. She doesn’t love bread as much as the rest of us, but she loves fruit and really loves cheese! She also handled the transition from formula to milk beautifully and she LOVES drinking milk from her sippy cup! Such a big girl.

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I love going to get Neely up from her afternoon naps. She is content to hang out in her crib for awhile after she wakes up, but when she’s standing up in the corner, I know she’s ready to get up. Every day I walk in and she gets a huge smile on her face, then collapses back down into her crib giggling. Its like she wants me to try to catch her as she runs away! But she can’t get very far… so I tickle her and let her get back up and when I come toward her she collapses back down again and crawls away, giggling the whole time. It is a really fun game we like to play 🙂

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We celebrated Neely’s birthday with a party of family and it was so fun for her to be surrounded by so many who love her, and all of her fun cousins! She had a lot of fun being celebrated and I think her favorite part was the birthday cupcake! She was NOT afraid to dig in and get messy, much to the dismay of her brother who does’t like to get messy!

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It has been just amazing watching this little girl’s personality blossom and we can’t wait to see what the next year brings. She is so loved and cherished – Neely our lives wouldn’t be the same without you! Thank you for coming into our family and showing us how our love can grow bigger than we ever dreamed imaginable. Thank you for being such a light in our lives. We are blessed to get to watch you grow into the beautiful girl, young lady, and woman you were created to be!

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See Neely Grow:

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3 Day Refresh – Results and Thoughts!

This week I did something called the 3 Day Refresh. This is a Beachbody program designed to kick-start healthy habits and/or break bad habits, and get a fresh start without starving yourself or depriving yourself of proper nutrients. For me, it came at a necessary time because I have been “off” for about 2 or 3 weeks and was in desperate need of a kick in the booty to get back on track with the healthy lifestyle I’ve worked so hard to maintain for the past almost 10 months. So I wanted to share my results, my thoughts, and my recommendations for anyone who would like to learn more about the 3 Day Refresh!

First – this is not a crash diet. If you are looking to drop a few pounds fast, this is certainly a way to do that, but if you do not plan on continuing with a healthy, clean diet after the refresh, I would assume you will quickly gain your weight back. Overall good nutrition is VITAL to maintaining a healthy weight and body for the long-term, so I would recommend using this program as a kick-start into a healthy lifestyle rather than a quick weight loss tool.

Second – the refresh cuts out meat, dairy, and carbs and focuses on a diet of fruits, veggies, fiber, and protein shakes to ensure proper nourishment to your body during the 3 days. It is also designed so that you will not feel starved. There were times throughout my 3 days that I did feel hungry, but usually it came at a time when I could have a snack or some tea or was in need of more water. Those things typically satisfied the hunger I felt. I did cheat on my last night and have a handful of cashews 😉

So one of the best parts of this program is that it isn’t an all-liquid cleanse. You eat real fruits and veggies throughout the day. I wanted to share some of the food I enjoyed while doing the program:

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Vanilla Fresh Shake with Grapes with lunch

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Afternoon snack of broccoli sautéed in olive oil

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Carrots, hummus, and vanilla fresh shake blended with fruit for lunch

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I enjoyed some decaffeinated green tea sweetened with stevia throughout each day

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Delicious cucumber and tomato salad (recipe included in my 3 Day Refresh guide)

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Steamed green beans with a teeny pinch of salt and avocado

So you can see, I wasn’t totally deprived of food for 3 days. I did get tired of washing my blender multiple times a day, though 😉

On to results! I lost 4.6 pounds during the 3 Day Refresh. My stomach flattened and I lost some bloating overall in my body, specifically in my tummy and face. Let me be clear again – I was NOT doing this as a crash diet to quickly drop weight. I knew that I had lost track of my self-discipline in terms of my personal health and fitness, and I needed a reminder of all that I’d learned over the past several months and a kick-start back into healthy, clean living. I had gained back some weight that I had worked hard to lose, and wanted to get myself back on track!

I was reminded of a few major ways that my self-discipline had been slacking. First, hydration. With this program everything was planned out for me, to a T, and so I was much more aware of the amount of water I was drinking. During these 3 days, I drank a LOT of water – and felt SO much better for it!! It reminded me that I need to be very intentional each day about my water intake and being sure I stay properly hydrated!

The other thing was simply in my overall self-discipline with snacking and eating out. I’ve found myself grabbing foods that are left on my kids’ plates that they didn’t eat, or feeling hungry and instantly going to the fridge or pantry and picking out whatever sounded good. Granted, we don’t keep much “junk food” in the house so I was typically still eating healthy-ish food, but I was getting my portions all out of whack. And then eating out – this has been a bad one lately! I’ve just been tired of cooking and have been very quick to suggest we just go grab some food out, which has had an impact on both our money and our bodies. Eating out typically provides much larger portions, first of all, and also more ingredients than I need/want. And its expensive!!!

So, all in all, the 3 Day Refresh was a good experience! I was a little grumpy during the 3 days and was definitely craving meat, but I am very pleased with the results and happy to feel back on track and in a much better place nutritionally! Here’s to fresh starts and healthy habits to lead into the holiday season!!

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If you’re interested in trying the 3 Day Refresh, leave me a comment or send me an email at elder.meredith@gmail.com and I’d love to talk to you about it!

Reality vs. Internet Reality

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I’m struggling a little bit today. And the truth is, I struggle a little bit (or a lot-bit) every day, in some way. And then I am faced with this other struggle – the struggle of what I portray on social media. I’ve worried since day 1 of starting my Facebook page that I wouldn’t portray reality. I wanted to be transparent and real, but I also wanted to put forward ideas and images that would encourage, inspire, and add value to people’s lives. I wanted people to see what I was doing to try to live a healthy life – my workouts, my meals, my sketches, etc. I’ve tried to include posts about failures and struggles as well, but I don’t know if those always come through.

I was at a women’s event at church with some friends and it included dinner and dessert. As I began on my delicious caramel cake, my friend leaned over and said how it was nice to see that I post about workouts and healthy living, but I also indulge every now and then too. I was so grateful she said that because it caused me to think for a second about what I put out there for the world to see, and what I don’t.

The thing is, if I don’t post a picture of my caramel cake or my glass of wine or my cookie, its truly and honestly NOT because I am trying to be sneaky or hide it. It is NOT because I want to portray perfection when in reality I am not perfect. It is more because I honestly don’t think about it. I look at my new healthy recipe I just cooked or the tough workout I just pushed through, and automatically think I should post it because maybe it will encourage someone else. I don’t usually get that thought when I’m eating junk food or not exercising.

So, then, I’m faced with the struggle of how I’m portraying myself. And as I ponder that today I guess I just have to realize that no matter what or how hard I try, I can not post every second of every day on social media. And because of that, anyone who knows me on social media will only get a fraction of my reality. It’s not less real, it’s just not my whole reality.

So I guess I just wanted to put in writing a bit more of my heart and my reality, so that maybe, if someone sees this, they will get a better glimpse into who I really am than just by seeing my posts on Facebook. I am not a nutritionist or an exercise expert. I learned what I know about nutrition and portion control from 21 Day Fix and I have learned how to maintain that healthy mindset into my every day life. I eat mostly clean, and mostly healthy, and I workout most days. Not every day. Not every meal. My heart for my Facebook page is to offer encouragement, ideas, inspiration, and help to anyone who will benefit from it. I hope to come across as my true self – someone who cares deeply for other people and who struggles daily, just like everyone else.

I am learning so much about myself lately and it seems that at the end of every day, I come to the conclusion that I am a deeply flawed person in desperate need of Jesus. I am doing the best I can to take care of myself and my family, while sharing my heart with others, but it is not, and will never be, perfect. So I hope you can understand that and be encouraged by it.