A Beautiful Exchange

Friday, October 24, 2014

Baby Navey | 20 Weeks



The Basics
Gender: GIRL! See our gender reveal here.

Name: We are finally able to call our little blessing by name! I hope to be sharing her name soon!

Due Date: March 13, 2015

Sleep
Still not sleeping soundly, but I am just dealing with it because it will probably be this time next year before I get a full night of uninterrupted sleep. Motherhood rocks. Anyway, I am still having to get up at least once a night to use the bathroom and my acid reflux has significantly worsened so that wakes me up at least two to three times each night. Wahhh.

Weight Gain
Starting weight at 8 weeks: 127lbs.
Current weight: 146lbs. (HOLY weight gain. I have gained almost 13lbs. in 4 weeks!!)

I have definitely been able to notice the little extra bit of weight that I am carrying right now! The baby is carrying really low, so I have been feeling a lot of pressure and am already to the point where it's pretty uncomfortable to sit down and not be leaned back a bit, but that's expected since we are halfway there! Woohoo!!

Movement
Little girl has been moving around a ton, just like she has been for a few weeks now. She is still sitting really really low, which is extremely uncomfortable, but I love being able to feel her, regardless!

Stretch Marks
None!! My belly has gotten so much bigger over the last two weeks or so, so I really need to get better about rubbing down with that coconut oil, haha! I keep waiting for the infamous "line" to make it's re-appearance!


Nausea/Cravings/Aversions
No nausea, but as I mentioned, my acid reflux has been from you-know-where. I have acid reflux all the time, but I just kind of deal with it and don't take a prescription or anything. When I was pregnant with Eli, it flared up really bad at about 6 months, but with this pregnancy it has been present and worsening for a while. Over the past four nights, I didn't sleep at all because of the terrible pain and have finally decided that I have no other choice but to start taking some medicine. It is no longer manageable with Tums and avoiding certain foods--it's constant and absolutely terrible! Fingers crossed this medicine works, because I don't think I can deal with it being like this until March!

Doctor's appointments
No updates this week. Since our hospital referral everything has been out of whack at my regular OB and we are currently waiting on the date of our next appointment.

Feeling
Super excited. In the past two weeks I have just been reveling in the fact that I am going to have a daughter! AHH! I was so shocked to find out that our little baby is a girl, but couldn't be more thrilled. I have already bought a few headbands and can't wait to stock up on some adorable clothes and accessories!

I have also been having all the feels lately. There have been quite a few things that have made me start tearing up for no good reason and it's a little crazy!!


Eli is
Going about normal things, but has definitely shown signs of understanding the pregnancy more! He calls her by name, talks to her, and kisses my belly. The other day, a picture of a little newborn popped up on the screen while he was sitting with me and he was convinced it was our baby and kept calling her the baby's name! It was so adorable and nice to know that he understands that the baby is actually a baby, haha!! We have also been enjoying our time together. He is really active, but is still a great cuddler, so I am trying to soak up this one on one time with him. I know that once the baby comes I will think back on the days of being a mom of one, so I want to treasure these days. The weather was absolutely perfect, so we took him to the playground by our house the other day and it was so fun getting that time as a little family.

Also, he feels the need to be in all of the pictures I take for blog posts, which is both annoying and absolutely adorable at the same time...


Top moments
Obviously our gender reveal was extremely exciting and I loved sharing that good news with everyone! Other than that, things have just been pretty normal around here. I am loving that the weather is cooling down because I am able to wear a lot of the maternity clothes I have been stocking up on for a while!

Need to get caught up?



Thursday, October 23, 2014

Beauty Box 5 Review



Like a lot of people, I am completely obsessed with subscription boxes. In the past, I have tried things like Ipsy and most recently I have fallen in love with Le Tote (a fashion subscription box that is a great Stitchfix alternative)! For some reason, I just love the fun of paying a small fee each month and getting a box of goodies shipped right to my door! It's so fun to wait for them and then pop them open--especially when the products are a surprise!

Among all of the posts for subscription services like Ipsy and Birchbox, I had never heard of BeautyBox5 until just recently. They are also a beauty subscription box service, but I have found that the products they include are much more affordable and I love that you receive deluxe samples and full size items! I really loved my Ipsy bags for a time and love the idea of Birchbox as well, but found that I was receiving too many high end products that I would never dish out the money for. While I can be a makeup snob sometimes, there are certain products that are affordable, yet offer the same quality as those that are high end, so I like to explore those brands as well.


I have paid for BeautyBox5 for two months now and have been pleasantly surprised with the products that I have received! Both boxes have had things that I would use frequently and could even afford to replace if I fell in love with them! Since I used the code "HALFOFF" when I signed up, it has also been a really affordable little surprise! They offer free shipping and subscription options that allow you to try the service for a few months and save money at the same time!

One of my favorite parts about being a member of BeautyBox5 has been their shop! Most of the other beauty subscription boxes have similar links on their site that allow you to purchase full size replacements of the products you received, but I have not seen one that is so organized. All of the work of searching is done for you and you can flip through the products by category and by the month in which they were sent out! I think this is so helpful as you may not run out of an item for a few months--you can easily click back to the month you received it and buy your replacement!


I've been really happy with my subscription so far, so I will probably keep it for a few more months! I really enjoy trying out new products--especially stuff that I will really get a good use out of!! Have you tried BeautyBox5? What did you think?

Use the code HALFOFF for $6 off any subscription OR use the code AUGUSTFREE to get a free box when you sign up!
You may cancel your subscription at any time!


*This post contains affiliate links. Those links do not change the cost of your purchase in any way.


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Meet Amanda from Life With Grace Blog


Amanda, a mom of one (to an adorable little girl) and a follower of Christ is the sweet blogger behind Life With Grace. Over the past month, I have SO enjoyed getting to know her better and her blog is such a joy to read each day. She shares about her journeys through life, and cooking, and fashion (which are my favorite by her)! She went to school for Psychology but dreams of going back to school to study graphic design and create beautiful things for a living!! Amanda loves interacting with people on social media, so make sure you say "hi" on Instagram or Twitter!!




Here are a few posts I love by Amanda:



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tips for setting and successfully living on a tight budget!

Today, one of the sweetest girls I have "met" through blogging is here to share some AMAZING tips for setting and successfully following through with a budget. As you guys know, when Jacob and I got married, we were living on one minimum wage income for more than 8 months and we survived that time through God's provision and the application of many of these tips. When you really stick to the things Natalie mentions it can do amazing things for the money you make, how you view your money, and what you choose to spend your money on!! Be sure to check out the bottom of the post for a little more about who Natalie is!

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Good afternoon, friends and readers of A Beautiful Exchange! I am beyond honored to have a space here and share with you what we have learned and what we do as a family when it comes to: BUDGETING! Before we get started, I do want to point something out: if budgeting, money saving, and reaching or remaining debt free is not a priority, this post won't be of much help for you. When it comes down to it, saving money and living on a budget is about being disciplined and using your "no" muscles. Loren (my handsome husband) and I have experienced so much freedom in tackling our medical and school debt. You can check out our It's So Good To Be Debt Free post here, if you're interested.  Loren and I have experienced the overwhelming grace and freedom that comes from the love of Jesus. As a response to His grace and love, we crave, we yearn, we desire to live a life that honors Him. We also fully believe (and have experienced) that when we live out what the Bible says, it is for our best interest and it is there that we find freedom! The Bible encourages us to be wise with our resources; to be good stewards.

Get in the right mindset!

Mindset #1: Instead of viewing the things we have, the money in our bank account, and the resources available to us as OURS, we have the mindset that they are simply gifts. They are the Lord's and He gifts us with these things to use. This first mindset has freed up so much entitlement, so much frustration, so much bitterness - I am not saying those things have disappeared. What I am saying is that when we remember to choose this mindset as our reality, we are free and more thankful. We see our things as gifts and don't walk around with the entitlement that WE NEED MORE.

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Mindset #2: If we are truly pursuing the ways of the Lord, pursuing a life that models His heart for His people, I believe (and have experienced) that He provides all of our needs. Our true needs. In honesty, I do not need that $28 dress, I do not need at $3 americano, I do not need to drive to Portland once a month. I do not need these things and if they are not in the budget, then they won't be purchased. But our mindset and firm belief is that He has always and will continue to provide food - even if it is just enough for the day or the week. We have never gone hungry; even if it is eating with a family from our church community. When I was sick two weeks ago, we had $0 in our budget binder and $0 in our checking. It was the weekend and we had no access to our savings account. Two ladies/friends from our church community brought over a plethora of vitamin C, medicine to help me sleep, and food. He will provide one way or another. Remembering this brings peace when things are tight -- this mindset helps us get through the rough last week before paycheck, or the rough months where Loren takes off a lot of work for his second job.

Also, our first and foremost move with any and every monetary income is to skim off our tithe to our church. Tithing is a whole different blog post in itself, but basically, we take out that amount before even looking at the rest of our expenses. We have now started a new thing of putting money into our savings second to tithing, as opposed to "whatever is left over." Every one has money to put into savings; it is simply, as I stated earlier, up to your priorities.

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Mindset #3: Don't love money. Don't thirst for money. Don't idolize money. Don't live for money. For a time, I was working ridiculous hours and becoming very bitter and angry and quite ugly. Why work so much? To "pay my bills." But if I would have slowed down and looked, my bills were paid. It was the excess money that I was striving for. It was the extra THINGS I desired. Not that desiring things are bad - it is when I place pursuing those things above living the life He offers. The life He offers is freeing, peaceful, joyful -- not exhausting, bitter, and money-thirsty. When we have the mindset of loving Jesus and loving His people, when we are not driven by money, we are so much more selfless. So much more beautiful. So much more impacting this world for something greater than ourselves. That is our desire.

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Quick Tips on cutting costs:

+ TURN YOUR LIGHTS OFF. Decrease your power bill by getting in the very good habit of living in the dark. Not really. BUT, we are so good at only having the lights on in the room that is occupied. We have disciplined and trained ourselves into switching the light off as we leave any room. Our power bill has been as low as $5 {mess up?} and as high as $100. The average is $40. The only time it was $100 was when we had a roommate, a third body.

+ Eat out only 1 time a week. That's right! Pack your lunch the night before work, prepare breakfast and dinner. I invite you to check out how we Meal Plan & Budget, because it has helped so much!
As mentioned above, Meal Plan.

+ Consign your clothes and use the in-store credit as your clothes & jewelry shopping! Or, visit Ashten for a closet swap.

+ Wash your dishes instead of using the dishwasher!

+ Skip using your heat/air!
Tips on Budgeting

+ Make a list of wants/needs. If really needing to cut back and start saving, I suggest truly looking at your spending and make a list of all the categories of spending: shoes, clothes, food, gasoline, eating out, movies, toys, etc. Make a list of your needs. NEEDS: things you cannot physically live without. Food, rent/mortgage, bills, shampoo. Make a list of your not as necessary needs: gasoline (do you have a bus system? a bike?), eating out, clothes, internet, etc. Make a list of your wants & entertainment.As you add up the sum total of each category, compare it to your income. The most important things in your budget should remain, and go down the list and see what you can get rid of or decrease in spending for a time (or forever).
+ Account for every penny spent. I know, so boring, so tedious, and yet so important. Save those receipts and get in a routine of entering them into a spread sheet. That way, you can see what you realistically spend in each category.
Budget realistically. If you don't put enough money in a certain area, you are setting yourself up for failure and frustration.
+ Cash only. Leave your cards at home. When you use cash, you feel it disappearing. When you swipe a card, it is so easy to disregard and disconnect from the money leaving your account. Also, as you use cash more and more, it is easier to say no. In fact, I have come to a place where it is so easy to say no, simply because, "oh there is no cash in my wallet!" I have come to a place where my money and possessions are not tied to my identity or value - I am not jealous when people get something new or go on a beautiful vacation, I get to be happy for them! It is so freeing.
Cash in envelopes. Envelopes for each week is how we do it. We get paid two times a month, so we budget two weeks at a time. See below:
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+ Food Tab: envelope for week 1 and for week 1, each with its allotted cash. Same for our Gasoline Splurge/entertainment (coffee, eating out) Home (TP, paper towels, plastic baggies, detergent, soaps, shampoos) Decor (rug, fabric, towels, a decorative dish, flowers) Nat's Business (fabric for pillows or rice sacks, gasoline to a client, etc) Loren's Splurge (books, clothes, whatever) Beauty (make up, nails) Each of these budget areas, aside from gasoline and food, only get $10-$20 a week. Not much, but that in order to build a savings account and not go into debt, that is how it must work for now. Often, we won't spend any of the "decor" money and need a little more in the "home" area, so we swap around. It works! It always works out one way or another.
+ Use jars to save for short term goalsBecause we see saving for these things as a priority, our weekly budget binder is pretty tight. But when these things roll around and it is time for Christmas shopping or to purchase new tires or a birthday pops up or someone is in need of something... we have prepared to the best of our ability! Just as we stick $10-15 in our budget binder for each week, we stick $10-20 in our jars each paycheck. That is $20-40 towards each jar! And about $2o0 a month, depending on the month's true needs. We have been doing this since the beginning of our marriage and it has helped so much! It's also super fun to watch the jars grow.We have purchased with jar money: 75% of last years Christmas gifts; last year's Turkey dinner for Thanksgiving; baby shower and wedding gifts; plane tickets to Boise (2x); trips to Canada (2); art class; and we have a good chunk in out adoption fund! This is working! When things come up unexpectedly, say a dentist bill (this happened two months ago), instead of freaking out because of your tight budget or using your credit card, pull cash from the various envelopes. Use your home decor, your entertainment, and your clothing/beauty money. It is worth it.

Jar savings! Save up for trips, car tires, adoption, etc. 

+ Know your big bills, pay them online if possible, set up recurring payment plan for the day you get your paycheck. After they have been paid, go to the bank and take out your cash. It takes me 15 minutes TOPs to sit down, tally our income, swipe off our tithe, rent, bills, and then see what is left for our weekly budget binders. Almost always it is about the same per category (but our income wavers month to month). I then write out how many of what bill goes into each envelope, and I make it super easy on the bank teller. 
Example: Food = 2 at $100 ($200/2 weels), Gasoline = 4 @ $20 ($80/2 weeks), Splurge = 4 @ $10 ($10 each of us/2 weeks) 
Tally up how many of each bill, take it into the bank, and you've got a smooth transactions!
Ready to get serious about your budget?! Get started by downloading the sheet that Natalie uses each month HERE!

Learn more about Natalie by visiting her blog, The Brenner Bunch, or contact her if you need any help with your own budget!