Second Trimester

I would describe the second trimester of my pregnancy as a complete breeze and a total 180 degree change from the anxiety and fear and exhaustion that plagued my first trimester. I’ve been told I’ll pay for the ease that’s been my second trimester of pregnancy in the home stretch so we will see! I thankfully no longer have food aversions so I’m happy to be back eating my normal diet (I didn’t eat very healthy in my first trimester — nothing green sounded good!). I’m feeling him move like crazy — he likes to chill on the right side of my belly, I feel him there the most and he is getting big enough to be all up on my ribs on the right side which is not the most comfortable feeling but I’ll take the peace of mind that comes in feeling his pokes and jabs. Also, Braxton hicks contractions are in full swing and they’re weird – I’ve had a few that have been super intense (probably due to dehydration – trying to stay hydrated, being pregnant in the summer months in Florida is serious!!!) and others that I don’t realize until I feel my belly is hard as a rock.

We’ve now finished the registry, bought some of his nursery furniture, and we have a bunch of clothes given to us by friends so it’s all starting to get very real. Our friends and family are throwing a couple of showers for us in August and September, I’m SO excited to start celebrating Oliver with all of them.
When I think about going into labor, being in labor, and delivering our baby, I get butterflies. I can’t wait to see what the story of Oliver starts out like. I’m delivering at a birthing center with a group of midwives that are absolutely wonderful. It’s been a joy to do my prenatal care with them and the experience that I’ve had so far is so empowering. At our last visit we got all kinds of information and a checklist of things to bring to to the birthing center, we also are signed up for a birthing and breastfeeding class  and are working on a birth plan — I’m starting to realize that his arrival is not too terribly far away.
I have been struggling quite a bit with mourning the loss of my alone time with Justin, I realize that it will never be the same and while I am so excited for Oliver to be here, I’ve also been working through genuine sadness that I won’t get him all to myself every night. There won’t really be carefree, quiet nights of laying on the couch together watching a movie and I really cherish that time with him.
One thing that I’m loving the very most though, is talking about and praying over the character and heart of our little guy. I am in absolute awe that we get to have an equal representation of both myself and the love of my life. It is such a joy to think about enjoying that with Justin.
We haven’t taken a vacation just Justin and I since our honeymoon so we have a babymoon booked and are headed to St. Augustine for a week! I can’t wait for that time to unplug and relax with J before he leaves me for 12 WHOLE DAYS to Cambodia to lead a mission trip, I’m switching from working 40 hours a week in the same place that I have worked for the last 6 years to being self-employed and working from home building The Social Bee. I am SO grateful for the opportunity to do that because it will give me the freedom to be home with Oliver.

First Trimester


Baby Neal is coming in October!!! We could not be more excited and we were both so excited to share the news with everyone the weekend after Easter. I’ve gotten so many questions on how I’ve been feeling and I don’t want to forget all of this, it’s already going too fast.

I found out at 4 weeks (!!!) about 20 minutes before our house was filled with about 20 of our friends for small group, I don’t think I said much that night! We didn’t have a confirmation appointment at our OB until 8 weeks, so we waited 4 long weeks keeping the news to ourselves and anxiously awaiting to hear that everything was perfectly ok with our sweet baby. We finally did and hearing the heartbeat at that first appointment was incredible!


We decided to go with The Birth Place and had our first appointment at about 12 weeks, Justin and I loved touring and talking about the experience that we’ll have there when baby comes.

As far as sickness and cravings go: weeks 5-9 were pretty rough. I was tired from the moment I woke up and all throughout the day, the nausea came and went throughout the day and I was so bloated. I don’t think I cooked one meal during those couple of weeks, I would come home and pass out. I didn’t desire coffee AT ALL which is weird because I normally drink at least two cups a day, I also thought I would miss wine but I really didn’t have any desire for that either.

I came out of all of that around week 10 (PRAISE JESUS) and finally felt like myself again, the food aversions were still there (I couldn’t’ do anything green – especially spinach), I also tried to have cauliflower “rice” and ew – just typing that still makes me gag. Also, crazy: I don’t care for Chipotle right now – I LOVE Chipotle! Pregnancy is weird.

Today I’m at 16 weeks and 4 days. Thankfully, I don’t even feel pregnant right now (except for this growing belly – I’ve gained about 10 lbs – and occasional aches/pains).The only thing I’m really missing right now is laying on my stomach, it was comfortable until about 2 weeks ago (when the picture on the right above was taken). Baby is the size of an avocado – 4.61 inches and 2.50 ounces –  and our friends lent us a heartbeat doppler so my favorite thing is to hear the heartbeat every few days. We find out the sex in 3 days!!!!!! And Justin and I both have an inkling as to what baby is. For now, Justin and I are adventuring a lot and fully enjoying these last few months while life is still just the two of us… and our Lil!


What I’m Loving: Skincare

In an attempt to be aware of what we are buying and where it is coming from, I have been trying out all different types of products – mostly trying different brands when it comes to food and skincare products and I have (after A LOT of trial and error) come up with a few new go-tos.


PiperWai – FINALLY! A NATURAL DEODORANT THAT WORKS!!!!! This is the product I am probably most excited about – I am obsessed with it. I have tried a million different brands of natural deodorants on the market but this one is by far the best. I’ve been using it for about two weeks now – I have sensitive skin and it hasn’t bothered me at all. My days normally start at 5am and end about 10pm and include a workout somewhere in there and it’s lasted me all day. One thing that I’ve really disliked about other brands is the funny smell that comes at the end of the day – not good, not bad… just weird – PiperWai doesn’t have that. It’s just perfect and it smells amazing, too.

ACURE – normally these natural and organic skincare lines do one or two things really well but I haven’t tried one of their products that I haven’t loved. I have been using their facial cleansing gel, day cream, night cream – and my all time favorite scrub ever: their brightening scrub – for about three months. I tried Arbonne before this and while I really love their products, they’re too pricey. Since I’ve switched to ACURE from Arbonne (I still use the Intense Hydration Mask), I haven’t noticed the difference. I just got their shampoo, conditioner and body wash but haven’t tried it yet.

Tarte – I have tried two these brushes: airbrush finish bamboo foundation brush + bamboo powder foundation brush (this one is INCREDIBLE) and it’s been recommended to me to try their Amazonian clay 12 hour full coverage foundation and Amazonian clay 12 hour full coverage airbrush foundation. So, that’s next for me to try and if I like those two, I’ll switch all of my cosmetics over to Tarte.

I have also really enjoyed making my own sugar scrub:

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unrefined virgin coconut oil.
  • 15-20 drops of lavender, orange, or lemon essential oil

Combine and whip it all together with an electric mixer. I store mine in small mason jars.

2016 Goals

I am super excited about a new year. 2016 was a weird one.

I learned a lot and took on A LOT and failed at a lot. In 2016, I’ll continue to do all of that I’m sure but I want to learn how to be a little more wise with my time and resources. There is a lot more that I want to put here (I struggle with wanting to do it ALL – RIGHT now) but I instead want to streamline my goals and be more realistic in the use of my time. My aim is to simplify life a bit – make it a little more light and a lot more full and intentional. I’m thankful to have a husband that reminds me that if I put in all of my efforts into ONE dream at a time, I’ll achieve one, then another, then another, THEEEN I’ll start to see my vision come to life. Thank God I was given him, seriously. So here’s what I’ve got!


  • Be self-employed by 2016. I will be self-employed January 1, 2016.
    • Identify market and limit services
    • Brand TSB – launch new website and brand, do it WELL with undivided attention
    • Continue to learn coding, WordPress functionality, SEO on multiple search engines
    • Come up with mktg plan and see it through
  • Launch SCP website
  • Dedicate Tuesday and Thursday mornings to TSB
  • Work Saturday – one per month


  • Build relationships with friends and family
  • Encourage and pray for Justin in his pursuit of full-time ministry
  • Streamline schedule that works for me that includes all of my weekly tasks
  • Spend one night per week writing 
  • Read 2 books per month off of 2016 reading list
  • Share meal plans on blog
  • Keep track of other ideas and big picture vision but DO NOT pursue them…yet


  • Continue to run one mile per day
  • Strength training 2 times per week for 30 minutes
  • Stretching/yoga


  • Cell-phone-less dinner together a couple nights a week
  • Date night once a week
  • Be in the Word & pray together
  • Sabbath
  • Planning meeting one day per week

These are the words I want to be apparent in my life this year:

Restore. Heal. Fearlessness. Peace. Lightness.

What are your goals for the year? It’s so much easier to achieve goals when you have friends spurring you onwards to crush them. We’ve got this, friends.

End of 2015 Goals

October to December is my favorite time of the year. Fall, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are my absolute favorites. I also feel like it’s the hardest part of the year to be present in because of all of the moving parts. I always find myself standing January 1st, saying ‘wait what just happened? that was a blur.’ This fall especially has been filled with tons of celebration and traveling: football games, cabins, new babies, marriages, birthdays, anniversaries, and engagements. The hardest part for me through all of the celebrating and traveling is being present. With so many things happening back to back, it’s challenging for me not to have my mind wandering to the next thing or the next to-do. So, I am thankful for the practice in being present and for God knowing my heart and providing calm and quiet moments for this introvert to recharge in the midst of all of that. I am also grateful to be on the other side of all of that, having celebrated so many of my favorite people and to have been a part of so many life-changing events!

Now for November and December, these months for me look a lot like intentionality and seeking what it is that God’s got for me, where he wants my focus and attention. Because I have a lot of ideas on where it should go, but I want to invite the Lord into that. Justin and I are both standing at the end of a road right now in a lot of different areas in our life and we are talking through which way we’ll turn. With that comes anxiety and uncertainty and pressure. So much pressure. I have had headaches daily lately, but I really have myself to blame in how I let worldly stresses affect me in such a way that I deal with DAILY headaches, that’s a daily struggle (I actually have one as I am typing) that I’m praying against right now because the reality of it is: I just don’t need to carry all that around. It is not necessary or even kind of helpful. No resolution comes from a cloudy and foggy mind.

Goals through the rest of the year:
-de-fog my head: seek peace daily. Ask God to tell me who I am to him.
-lay our worldly pressures at the foot of the cross daily (I just literally let out a sigh of relief as a wrote that)
-physical health
-finish reading Clean Gut, Sacred Marriage, The Brain That Changes Itself and continue Seamless study
-3-day juice cleanse
-work on intimacy and passion in our marriage
-stick to a once-a-week planning date with Justin
-Justin and I cast vision over the next 5 years – what are our action steps?
-Rise Media re-launch planning
-be more consistent in writing, brainstorm and plan content for the rest of the year
-spend intentional time with the ladies in my life
-continue making our house a home
-practice silence and listening for God’s voice
-intentionally UN-compartmentalize (social media, work, community, marriage)
-finish codeacademy

Writing this down is so helpful for me, it helps me think through exactly what it is I want to accomplish and work toward and reveals where my heart is really at. And now that it’s published, I’m held accountable to ACT. What does the rest of the year look like for you?

Fall Garden Update!

I filled the garden with quality soil, peat moss, and manure. I planted the seeds the same day as I filled the garden boxes. Some say it’s best if it has time to sit but I didn’t seem to have a problem.

IMG_5701Beginning of September (left to right: carrots, onions, okra, peppers, butternut squash, zucchini)

IMG_5700 IMG_5306Mid September

IMG_5695Today (the left box I started from seed in that box, the right one three plants had to be transferred from a starter in my kitchen to the box). I can’t believe how the garden has grown! I was going in this fully expecting it to be a total flop the first time but much to my surprise, there is a lot of green going on in that little garden.


A couple of things I’ve learned:

  • PEAT MOSS. This was recommended to me by a couple of people and I really think it’s one of the keys to my success. It holds in moisture really well and I also haven’t had a crazy problem with pests either.
  • Next time I’ll put in more soil, so that the plants have a little more wiggle room. I’ll probably just build up next time and fill with soil from there.
  • My zucchini is taking over my poor peppers sunlight too, so next time I’ll plant all the bushy plants together (and give them more room) and the others in another planter – or just a little farther away.

IMG_5693This box is the unorganized box. I transplanted these spaghetti squash and tomato plants (both started from seeds) from pots that I planted and started in my kitchen to here. I was really nervous about the tomato plants because they were so fragile but they’re doing pretty good!


Little blossoms on the zucchini and butternut squash.


Row of carrots and onions.

I need a suggestion for the little pests that are chewing away at my leaves. It’s not terrible, just a few leaves that it’s gotten a hold of but any suggestions?

I think we have about another month or so before the harvest – until then we wait…and try to keep it alive.🙂

Settling In

I have really settled into this time of learning I’m in and have been incredibly blessed by the outcome so far. God’s really refined me in the stillness of this season – brought out a lot of ugly but also formed a lot of confidence. I’ve also really, really enjoyed just being a wife. Culture says that there is something wrong with the woman who is OK with staying home to take care of the house and cook and clean and with our schedules lately, mine allows me the opportunity to do just that and I’ve loved it. I’ve been doing a lot of cooking, gardening, baking, and making our house a home (we moved 6 months ago and I’m JUST NOW getting around to it).
There is so much value in taking the time to invest in a solid foundation and I’m finding that it looks a lot different for each person, sometimes it’s college, or a year abroad, or just a mismatched time of learning like mine. It’s a beautiful place to be before the craziness of the season of launching and building businesses – I get to spend time building a foundation for my most important ministry — my family. Justin and I have gotten a lot better about spending intentional time together and communicating well. It’s in these places where we build the foundation – the trust and rapport in our homes, with our spouses and communities. This will always be something that I work toward, into the next season and the season after and so on, I will also continue to be learning and building rapport with my love but it’s here that I am learning how to do that because I don’t know that I’ll get a time like this again.
I’ve also been learning to code through Code Academy. Classes at The Iron Yard, a coding school in Orlando, start a little later this month and I can’t wait to get started with them – even to just be in community with others learning the same skill together. Between the two, Code Academy and The Iron Yard, my goal is to be fluent in this crazy language by the end of the year. The beginning of 2016 I’ll work to re-brand Rise into a new, fun brand and I’ve also got one other project I’m working on. Both will launch Fall 2016 – I can’t wait to share previews of both!
“…to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped,when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Ephesians 4:12-16