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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Clarity of Silence...

As I sat in my classroom this evening, typing up my last couple items of paperwork for my students before the school year ends on Friday, the rain began to pour outside. I usally have Pandora blaring and something motivating to keep me going. But today...silence. The rain came down hard on the roof and I turned my chair around to face my emtpy classroom. Most of my deocrations have been taken down and a lot of the workbooks and supplies have been taken home by the kids. The room looks so bare, so...silent. No noise of moving student chairs, no loud screams calling out my name, just the rain.

The tears began to roll down my cheeks as I thought about how much I will miss this crazy place. I have learned SO much this year. If you think you have had an interesting first year teaching, give me a call, I've got one for the books.

It took weeks to set up the perfect classroom. With the help of J's strong arms, my Dad's creative eye and my Mom's sewing hands we created the perfect environment for learning. I wanted my classroom to be a place where these kids felt safe, where they felt at home. For my population, this is sometimes the only place they do feel safe. "Sail Away to Second Grade!" The perfect theme for a nautical gal, away from the waters of Florida. The community feeling I was going for, spot on by the first day of school.

As the year progressed my students filled their notebooks, as they filled their minds with knowledge. They filled my walls with notes, but most of all they reminded me that life isn't always going to be perfect. They taught me that people are going to let you know, but there is always a positive...always. My students and I have been through a lot together this year. Death, pain, heartache, engagements, babies, parties, birthdays, celebrations, let-downs and even a situation with a flying weave. (That was a good laugh.)

Hands down the hardest moment of my entire school year, doens't pertain to the issue of not returning next year. It was in early November, in the middle of my reading lesson. I receieved word that one my student's fathers had been murdered. The phone slipped out of my hand and my heart sunk. These are the situations they do NOT prepare you for in school. My heart broke for that sweet girl and as I sat with her at his funeral, I was reminded of why I was placed in this position. She could have been seated next to anyone in the world, but she chose me, her teacher. She wouldn't let go and as we cried together I could feel God tugging on my heart. "For I know the plans I have for you..." Because he always does. If for this school year was only to ease her pain, only to help her heal, then I have done my job.

Just one of many stories from a first year of teaching, that I will never forget. I have made friends and I'm sure a few enemies. I'd rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not. I am a strong woman, who believes in the children of our future. I believe in their learning and sometimes I believe in teaching to the children, not the test. I believe that every child can learn and I believe that everyone can teach them something. Sometimes you will come across people in life that will not agree with what you believe in. Always respect others, but know where your heart lies.

The Clarity of Silence...so the room is quiet, the walls are bare and after I'm gone the memories in this room will quickly fade. I hope and trust that I have made a big enough impact on these students that the memories we have made will not fade in their hearts. On the same hand, I hope that my love and smile has brought joy to my peers around me. Most of all, if you have made it through this whole post, I hope that you can rememeber a teacher that impacted your life. Call them, facebook, text, anything to let them know...they are awesome!

Children are great imitators. So give them something great to imitate.
 
xoxo,
lb

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Advocare 24 Day Challenge...

What is this? Why is everyone talking about it? How do I get my hands on some?

   That is kind of how I felt for awhile. My friend from high school sells it and I've been hearing about it for about a year now. As a CrossFitter, some of my friends from other boxes started using it so I began to think maybe it was more than a "weight lose gimmick." I began my research back in September 2013. I wanted to make sure it was something that I REALLY want to do. My doctor forbid me from having caffeine, so I knew that I wasn't allowed to have one of the most awesome components…Spark. (Yes, if you know Advocare this was a sad realization.) But I continued my research and read blog after blog about people and their results. I wanted to see how it affected people both during and after the process. I'm not into fad diets and really wanted something that would affect me as a whole body, a whole person. Fast forward to April of this year. I FINALLY came to the point where I was ready to take on this exciting journey. I placed my order and on April 9th, 2014 I start my first Advocare 24 Day challenge.

   Now, don't get my wrong it was hard but it was definitely worth it in the end. The first 10 days are a cleanse period. Not a weird cleanse where you need to be at home "in case" but a cleanse where you actually get to eat and workout and be a normal functioning member of society. During that time it was all about the focus, making sure that I knew EXACTLY what I was working for. See, I eat like a freak on a normal basis. I'm dairy free and pretty much gluten free as well. That doesn't mean I don't eat brownies at J's Mom's when she makes them post family meal, it just means my daily routine doesn't include bread. So the actually diet portion of the challenge wasn't hard for me. I do CrossFit 4-5 times a week, so the workout portion wasn't that bad for me. Confession: I didn't get to work out as much as I normally do during the challenge because we bought a house smack in the middle of the 24 days. (Oops, life happens.) The hardest part for me, yes this is the truth, was no alcohol…mainly no wine. Now don't get me wrong, after about 12-13 days I was over it. But I was kinda bummed the first couple Fridays when I wanted a glass after a long week with my students. Like anything though, you get over it. I had a goal in my mind and I wanted to reach that goal. If that meant no wine, then no wine. (Sidenote: my challenge has been over for 3 days and I haven't had a glass yet.)

   The second part of the challenge is the max phase. This phase was much easier for me. It included a lot of pills but they are natural (trust me, I researched this in the 6 months I spent NOT ordering while I made sure this was good for my body). But I felt amazing. I was so full at times I had to force myself to eat in order to keep my metabolism up. I LOVED the meal replacement shakes and will be getting those for my cleanse the next time I do one again. This is when I really started to see things happen…PR's at the gym (personal records for those of you that aren't gym rats), weight loss, muscle definition and over all feeling like an awesome person!

   The greatest thing about the challenge (and any Advocare products really) is that it's all about YOU. I say this to people in my life daily…it has to be something YOU want. YOUR goals because it's YOUR body. (Well it is really God's body, but we will get to that in a minute.) I did this challenge for me, because I wanted to see results. Every single one of you is beautiful and you have to remember that some awesome program may change your outside appearance but most of all I want it to change your confidence. I want you to wake up feeling like you can take over the world! I want you to wake up knowing you are AWESOME!

   Before I share my results I have to make this statement, I HATE bathing suits. I particularly hate pictures IN bathing suits. So this is going to be VERY hard to post. But when I'm doing any kind of training or when I get made fun of for eating weird (gf or df) I always think of this verse from the bible on fitness…
"Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?" - 1 Corinthians 6:19

  Your body is a temple. If we think of our body as a temple it changes the way we eat, how often we exercise and how we picture ourselves. I saw this challenge as a way to "rebuild" the temple God gave me, using all natural products, eating healthy and lots of working out. There is nothing "magic" about Advocare. You still have to work hard and eat right. So although this challenge motivation may come from YOU, make sure to remember this body we have is God's and we only have one. 

That being said, in the 24 day challenge…I lost 8.8lbs and 11.5 inches!!!


   Wow, that was hard to post. Putting myself out there makes me feel VERY vulnerable. I'm nowhere near where I want to be, but God has given me content in my heart that I'm ok where I am. I could FEEL a difference. I loved the way I looked but more importantly I love the way I felt at the end. (don't mind my second picture, we are moving and my house is in shambles.) I saw muscle definition and weight loss, COMBINED! 

   I loved this challenge so much, I'm doing a max phase again to see more results and better yet, I decided to sell it in order to help to other friends make their goals. If you know someone that could benefit from making their life healthier would enjoy learning about Advocare I would love to chat with them. I'm PUMPED about this company. They are a Christian based company, they have amazing products and most of all I get to Coach people into being more AWESOME versions of themselves. I'm loving it. 

   If you have questions, email me. Seriously I asked 100 questions before I started and during the challenge as well. If you wanna see what I would send you to motivate you, ask. I'll send it to you just to get you excited. If you just wanna chat, email me! 

My email: lauren.elizabeth.berry@gmail.com

xoxo, 
lb 
 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sweet Southern Bridesmaids...

We are going shopping for the maid's dresses on Saturday and I am in LOVE with pretty much every dress I see. It's going to be an issue trying to choose the one. Thankfully I will have four of the six maids with me. I love anything classic, sweet and southern with a touch of preppy. Here are some of my favorites…

















Which one is your favorite?

xoxo, 
lb


Monday, February 10, 2014

DIY Tea Dyed Paper

I knew from all the Pinterest ideas that I have discovered that I wanted to do something special for our groomsmen. I found an AMAZING box that had a bow tie, bottle of Jack Daniels and cigar in it. Since we have 6 groomsmen I figured that wasn't budget friendly so I started getting crafty.

I ended up with cigar boxes filled with nautical socks, a mini bottle of Jim Beam and a cigar. I wanted to make the boxes special and make sure the guys knew exactly why we were giving them to them. Each one said "Will you be my groomsman?" with the exception of the one what said "Will you be my best man?" for J's brother. I loved the printed font but hated the stark white paper. I found some tutorials online that showed tea dyed paper ideas but they seemed tricky. If I can do it, I promise you can do it!


I started with the regular printed paper and burned the edges just slightly.




I steeped 10 bags of regular lipton tea. I took each piece of paper and placed it in the dish. I took a tea bag (be careful they are VERY hot) and dabbed the paper with the tea bad until it was the color I desired. Note: it will dry lighter. 


You can see here I have taken out the paper and this is my send round of dying this piece. It needed to be a little darker.

When you're done, pat it dry with paper towels and place on dry towel to dry. 


Ta-daaaaa! So happy with how this turned out. It was super easy and the groom loved how old the paper looked. So easy and cheap too! 


The finished product! 




We love how these turned out. These gentlemen are all very special to us. We cannot wait to have them stand up there with us on our special day. 

xoxo,
lb 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Quote Me Darlin...

I am a sucker for a poetic quote. I pin them all the time. I thought I would share some of my favorite pinned quotes to inspire some of you in celebration of this new year. Enjoy!









xoxo,
lb

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Proposal...

J and I have been together almost 2 years and as I left for winter break he gave me two cards to open while I was gone with two different dates to open them on. One was Christmas day and one was the day after. The first one I opened on Christmas day was a beautiful Christmas card with a gift card to get my nails done. It also had the following bible verse: 

I found the one whom I love with all my heart. Solomon 3:4

It was the most perfect bible verse to prepare my heart for what was to come. The following day I received an early Birthday card that contained a beautiful love letter that asked me to use the gift card enclosed to buy a new dress and be ready for the best birthday ever. My mom, dad and I went shopping for the perfect dress and ended up with a JCrew classic, of course. Paired it with beautiful pearl and gold jewelry. If I wasn't excited before, I sure was now!

My mom and I always get our nails done for my birthday, so our girls day worked out well. December 27th, the day before my birthday. We woke up early, I made the most perfect mimosa in my blender bottle and we headed to the salon. We always do Brio for lunch after our nails as well. I was nervous all day, I wasn't sure what was going on. What if he really was proposing? Ahhhhh. Here are some pictures from our day together...






After lunch Mom and I headed home. After a nap and lots of primping Mom followed her directions and took me to the "drop off" location. My favorite restaurant in Naples at at the La Playa hotel, called Baleen. I was supposed to be there by 5:20, no earlier and no later. By this point I was VERY nervous. I hadn't seen J  in over a week and this was the first time I would be seeing him since I left Kentucky for break. 

I walked into the hotel and there stood my handsome man (now fiancĂ©) dressed in a full suit. He mentioned our table wasn't ready and asked if I would like to take a walk on the beach. I of course said yes! The sun was setting and we began to walk along the beach. We were catching up about Christmas and he asked me if we wanted to get a picture because it was so pretty. I'm a picture fanatic so I happily pulled my phone out and tried to get a selfie. He recommended someone near by take it and asked this man with a big camera around his neck to take the picture. When I turned around he was down on one knee. As nervous as he was he was quick and to the point, "Lauren, Will you marry me?" I started giggling as he stood there on one knee with the gorgeous ring in his hand. Eventually I said yes and everything after that is a bit hazy. I was so excited and happy, I couldn't believe my prince charming had just proposed to me. There was a lot of hugging and kissing, all on camera. (Something he knew was very important to me.) There were a couple things I really wanted to happen surrounding my engagement. My parent's permission. My nails manicured. And if possible, pictures of that special moment. He captured all three of those and my parents even helped him plan it. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. 

Here are some of the pictures from this perfect night. I cannot wait to marry this amazing man that God reserved for me. He treats me like a princess and respects me like God's daughter. Here's to a year of fun planning...



















this is my favorite picture of the night. our happiness is glowing. :)
xoxo,
lb