Dugouts and Diapers

Jessica Starr Nichols


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Onward and Upward

Well, I did it! I finished Dr. Bart’s 21 DayCleanse. Last Saturday, I drove down to Balance 30A with my manclan, and I had my post-cleanse InBody Analysis. This machine is incredible. It measures your height, weight, itra and extra-cellular water weight, skeletal muscle mass, BMI, visceral fat, and much more. According to the InBody machine, I lost just over 7 pounds over the twenty-one days, dropped one percent body fat, and most importantly, cleansed my gut! As a means of celebration, my manclan and I enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Chiringos on beautiful Grayton Beach. Everything on the menu is organic, grass-fed, and wild caught. I still had two days remaining on the cleanse. So, I opted for the Quinoa And Veggie Bowl with a piece of blackened fish on top, and it was the best meal I had in the entire 21 days! Hahahaha! It was filled with brussel sprouts (one of my new favorite veggies), arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots. I literally turned the bowl up and drank whatever juices from the veggies and fish were left. πŸ˜‹

We had the most wonderful day together. Sometimes the quick trips are the best! Yesterday was the final day of the cleanse, and I had a phone consult with Dr. Bart to discuss the plan for my next 60 days. During these two months, we are focusing on regulating hormones. I will be taking three different Standard Process supplements: Wheat Germ Oil, Chaste Tree, and Symplex F. I will also return to eating a Keto diet, focusing particularly on keeping carbs low, good fats high, and getting enough fiber through plenty of veggies. I will also be upping my exercise routine from every other day to six days a week. Now, I’m not talking about spending hours in a gym everyday, because that’s not my cup of tea. I’m merely looking to get my heart rate up for a good 15-20 minutes. The goal is to burn fat and build lean muscle. I will also continue with my intermittent fasting, which I’m going for my first twelve hour fast today. I had a shake with avocado, spinach, and blueberries this morning at 6am and will eat supper tonight around 6pm. Intermittent fasting is excellent for burning fat, and it helps you enter into Ketosis more quickly.

I’m excited for these next 60 days! I’m already seeing huge changes in my appearance and definitely in my clothes, and I can’t wait to see what changes occur over the next two months. I have some personal goals I would like to reach- lose at least 15 more pounds (that would put me under what I weighed when I got married), get into the cute size 12 white jeans my mom gave me, and start running again. The last one is very important to me! I used to love running. It’s so freeing, and I love being outside. I ran for the first time in 4 years today, and it wasn’t pretty, but I did it! I was only able to run for 11 minutes without stopping, but it was a starting point. I really love all the changes this journey has brought. I find myself dreaming about the end result. My amazon cart is full of swimsuit options and clothes and scrubs in smaller sizes. I love that my skin is clear, eyes are bright, and everywhere I go, people can’t believe the changes. God uses those things to encourage me to keep going. When I stop and think about the fact that I’ve completed a 100 Day Cleanse on the cellular level (True Cellular Detox), made it through the holidays while actually LOSING weight, began my year with another cleanse, and now I’m on to the next phase, which is regulating my hormones, it blows my mind! I’m so humbled and grateful! In case you haven’t figured it out, this isn’t about being skinny for me. It’s about being healthy. There’s a difference! My visit to Balance 30A on July 28,2017, changed my life, that’s for sure! Thanks for reading and check back next week to see how everything is going, including the running.❀️

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2017….A Year of Change

Wow! Is 2017 already over? That was quick! This year, for my man clan and me, can best be described as a year of change. It has certainly had its ups and downs, but overall, I would say it was one of our best years yet.

Adam spent the majority of the year doing the job of the general manager at his hotel, and ultimately he was overlooked and passed over for the job. While this news was crushing, he remained faithful, and God gave him a better job with an incredible company, and he didn’t even apply for it. They sought him out! I’m so proud of him and all that he has accomplished professionally this year. He’s truly an inspiration to me, and his faith, patience, and hard work were rewarded in the end. He also led our family spiritually to a new church. This was not easy for me, and I shed many tears, but seeing the spiritual growth in all of us has been incredible. Adam is extremely easy-going, but when he’s passionate about something, you can hear the authority in his voice. I’m thankful for his guidance and most importantly, his love for each of us.❀️

Banks is a 10th grader (I’m still in shock over this!), and Weston is in 4P. The changes in their life were equally as impactful. Banks experienced his first college visit. He has his drivers permit. 😳 He’s taking his first AP class, and I’m happy to report that whatever happens to children from 7th-10th grade has finally worked its way out of his system, I think…Hahaha! Lately, I find myself impressed with his more mature and well-thought decision-making, and he’s truly the best babysitter in the world! He exhibited tremendous character throughout a very humbling football season, and most importantly, he’s grown in his Christian walk over the past six months. We have three more college tours scheduled for the new year, and although these tours make me cry a little, I am truly thrilled to watch Banks grow. He’s a good boy!

Weston goes to school five days a week this year, knows all of the alphabet and what sound each letter makes, and he can count to 50 without messing up. He played his first season of tee ball, absolutely loves to read, and will push a hot wheels car for miles! He found his independence this year. He wants to do everything by himself! He’s an excellent helper and finds joy in helping others. He wants to be just like his big brother and shows that by copying everything Banks says and does. I’m so proud of and thankful for my sweet Weston, and I can’t wait to see how he continues to change and grow.

As for myself, I went back to work full-time, left my family for a week to go on a mission trip, and began my journey to get healthy. My health is, by far, our biggest change. I say “our” because it hasn’t solely affected me. It has changed my whole family. I went from having chest pain, crying all the time, edema, and wearing a size 2XL/22 to exercising 4 days/week, smiling, laughing, losing weight, and currently wearing a size large/14. As I type this, I find myself crying tears of thankfulness. I was sick, and I mean really sick. I’m extremely grateful for my health today. I never want to be unhealthy again! To date, I’ve lost 54 pounds. I did not have weight-loss surgery, nor did I take some magic pill. It was sheer determination and hard work! It was discipline, and I couldn’t have accomplished any of it without the support of my family and my Balance30a family. Walking into that building on July 28, 2017, will go down simultaneously as the hardest and most rewarding day of 2017. It changed my life…It changed my family’s lives!

I fully intend to continue toward my best version of me in 2018. I can’t wait to start the new year by doing Dr.Bart’s 21 Day Cleanse. Have you signed up? If not, there’s still time! I am not sure what Dr. Bart has planned for me this year, but you can be certain that I will give you all the details in my blog posts.

I received The Magnolia Story for Christmas, and I finished reading it last night. I photographed some of Joanna’s words. The top photo perfectly describes what I learned in 2017. “Letting it all go is freeing. I am learning that getting our intentions right simplifies our decisions in life and changes our perspective. And in the end, what it’s all about is thankfulness and contentment.” I let it all go when I cried like a baby in Balance Health Studio that day in July, and I’ve learned through spending more time with my manclan and getting to know a new church family that my perspective has changed, and I am perfectly content and beyond thankful for all the ups and downs of 2017. The bottom photo is how the book ended, and it was clearly my mantra for 2018! “Don’t quit, and don’t give up. The reward is just around the corner. And in times of doubt or times of joy, listen for that still, small voice. Know that God has been there from the beginning-and he will be there until ….The End.” I LOVE IT! I know that 2018 will also haves ups and downs, but I have a Savior that loves me, a husband and children that love me and are healthy, an incredible family, and I’m the healthiest I’ve been in years. So, why give up? Why feel defeated? My plan is to be intentional, thankful, content, aware, and healthy in the new year.

Thank you all so much for reading my blog, and I pray that the new year holds peace and blessings for each and every one of you. Check back next week for my first post about Dr. Bart’s 21 Day Cleanse! Happiest of New Years to you all!πŸ₯‚πŸŽ‰


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Proud Mommy Moments

This week has been filled with many proud mommy moments. Saturday night, Banks attended his first high school homecoming dance. 

He asked his friend from school to be his date, and she graciously accepted. He asked Adam if he would drive them to dinner and the dance in the Mustang, because “it is way cooler than the van.” Hahaha. So, of course, Adam obliged him, because he loves his son. 

Proud mommy moment #1 was due to Banks being an incredible gentleman. He opened the car door, pulled out her chair at dinner, and I was certainly proud of him. Chivalry shows character, class, and a good upbringing. It never goes out of style. Mary Catherine looked stunning, and I’m thankful that Jesus has placed such quality friends in Banks’ life.

Proud mommy moment #2 came Monday night at Banks’ last JV football game. He was has been a captain at the last two JV games. My number one, both on and off the field, has worked so incredibly hard to improve at the sport of football since last season. He spends every spare moment in the backyard running drills and practicing. He has had an incredible season! His talents have been noticed by not only the JV coaches but also by the varsity coaches. Most importantly, he maintained a humble and grateful attitude, giving all the glory to God, and on top of all that, he maintained all A’s and only 1 B while taking as many honors classes as possible. This kid shows more promise at 14 than most people do at 25.

Proud mommy moment #3 also occurred on Monday. When Weston’s teacher brought him to the car, she told me that there was a new student, and Weston took the kid under his wing and invited him to play and sit beside him. His actions also showed incredible character. I am so thankful that Weston showed love to his neighbor. My heart overflows with love for my manclan, and I feel blessed every single day to be the wife of an amazing man and the mother to the two finest young men in the world. πŸ’—

While I realize that all moms think their children are great, I just know that mine are exceptional. We may not have the most money or the finest home or the fanciest car, but none of those things reflect character. Possessing fine character is due to learned behavior, and the character my children have shown makes us the wealthiest family alive in my eyes. 


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Uneventful Week…Uneventful Post

Oddly enough, it’s been a rather uneventful, slow week for my manclan and me. I went shopping with my mom this morning and told her that I did not really have anything to write about this week, and she said, “write about that.” So, for those of you that actually enjoy my blog, this is a post about nothing in particular. HahahaπŸ˜‚

Monday night, Banks had a JV football game, and he played great! He had two interceptions, some great blocks and tackles, and Houston Academy won! He was extremely proud of himself, as were Adam and I. Some of our friends from church came to watch him play, which made the great plays all the more exciting. Tonight, he will play with the varsity team in Goshen, AL, and then we will do it all over again next week. We love cheering for our Banks and the Raiders!πŸ’™

Weston’s highlight of the week was singing in church on Sunday with his Mission Friends Class. They sang two songs, and he seemed much more interested in the flower arrangement than singing. Thankfully, he pulled it together by the last verse of the first song, and the entire group did a phenomenal job! I love getting to teach this group of kiddos every week! They make me smile!😁

He also learned how to form the letters “L” and “O” at school this week. They use the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum, and it is amazing to watch Weston take cars, candy corn, and even his sweet little fingers to form the letters. The more I read about this curriculum, the more I love it. We are very proud of how much Weston is learning every week.

Adam and I have spent the majority of our time away from work, football, carline, church, etc… making a checklist and beginning to pack for our upcoming vacation to Cloudland Canyon State Park. We are very excited to spend fall break as a family in the mountains. I spent nearly every weekend of my childhood camping. So, this is nothing new for me. I’m thrilled to camp and hike with my manclan. One of the many things Adam and I have in common is our love for the outdoors. πŸ•

Well, as I explained earlier, this week was not quite as eventful as usual, but if everything were always the same, this life would become extremely boring. We have enjoyed this calm week and are looking forward to our last free weekend until the middle of November. Come back next week to see what my manclan and I have gotten into.πŸ˜ƒ


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Read, Drive, Play…And Repeat

Gosh, since school has started, we have been busier than usual! Since Banks is playing for both JV and Varsity football, he has games twice/ week as well as practice every afternoon until 6:30 p.m., and workouts two mornings/ week at 6:30 a.m. Nichols Taxi Service is counting down the days until he can drive himself everywhere!!!!

Although we are burning up the roads, we are happy to do it, because our Banks is doing great! First of all can we take a minute and talk about his varsity football picture??? He’s really handsome, and I’m well aware that I’m partial as his mother, but even if I weren’t, I would admit that he’s a good-looking young man! He didn’t think he would get any playing time on varsity, but he’s actually gotten to go in for 8 plays in 3 weeks. On JV, he plays the entire game, and boy did he have a great first game! He even made the local newspaper! He caught a 20 yard pass and ran the ball nearly 70 yards for a touchdown. Adam and I were so proud! You can check out his awesome touchdown as well as the newspaper article below.​

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Banks isn’t the only member of my manclan making big memories! Our church library held a reading competition for all of the children, and Weston was the big winner. He’s always seemed so laid back like his daddy, but once he found out there was a prize to be won, he tapped in to his mom’s competitive nature! For an entire month, we checked out 5-10 books/ visit, and we read and read and read! Weston read a total of 45 books! Adam and I were so proud, but we were also ready for a reading break. We have always been advocates for reading to our children, and we are so thankful that both boys enjoy reading on a regular basis.

All of the kids were so excited to be recognized for their accomplishments. For winning the competition, Weston won a $25 gift card to Lifeway, some bookmarks, a certificate, stickers, and some candy. That’s a pretty great prize package for a three year old! Of course, he ate all the candy in one sitting, and I’ve found stickers EVERYWHERE! πŸ“š 

He was so excited to use his “credit card”. He bought himself a Bible, which he was thrilled to be able to carry to church Sunday morning, a sticker book (no, none of the stickers he won went in the book. He preferred to stick them on furniture and wallsπŸ˜‰.), and in classic Nichols boy style, a Veggie Tales bat and ball. It’s always ball season at our house!⚾️

So, although we’ve been extremely busy lately, Adam and I couldn’t be more proud of our boys. They are both incredible, and we are the blessed ones to be their parents. Bring on the craziness! It makes parenthood FUN! 


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New Beginnings

First off, allow me to apologize for my brief hiatus. I have been terribly sick for two weeks. I finally feel human again. As all of you moms know, life doesn’t stop simply because you aren’t feeling well. There’s still a manclan to be fed, laundry to be done, a house to be cleaned, and bills to be paid. Did I mention that it was also time to start back to school???? The uniforms needed to be ordered, school supplies purchased, haircuts, etc… Needless to say, being sick did not fit into my schedule.

This year didn’t merely consist of getting Banks ready to go back to school, but Weston would also be starting school. Both boys are marking milestones this year. Weston, as he begins his journey at Houston Academy in the 3P program, and Banks, as he begins high school at Houston Academy in the 9th grade.


The first day, as every day, began with prayers for both of my boys. I prayed that they would both be light in the darkness, do what is right, and basically, have a great year. I thanked the Lord for such intelligent and kind children. As we sat at breakfast, Weston could hardly eat due to his excitement. Banks was his usual cool, calm, and collected self. Since he had worked all summer, we didn’t have any issues with waking up early, and thankfully he looks forward to going to school each year.


Both boys willingly gave me a smile for the annual first day of school picture, and then we were off. As I dropped Banks off in front of the high school building, I began to have tears in my eyes, but I knew I had to hold it together in order to avoid sending Weston into a major meltdown before his first day. On the first day, they allow parents to walk pre-schoolers to their classroom. So, I parked the van, and as I reached for Weston’s hand, he told me, “I don’t want to hold your hand, mom. I want to walk all by myself.” 😭 So, instead of allowing him to see my broken heart, I told him how proud I was of him for being such a big boy. I walked alongside of him to his classroom, and I said goodbye and left.


He was not thrilled that I wanted yet another picture of him and his teacher, Mrs. O’Connor. When I picked him up, he couldn’t quit talking about all the great friends he had made, the story they read, but most importantly, the playground! He was so excited! 

After Banks finished school, he had football practice. So, it was nearly 7pm before I heard about his first day. He too had a great day. He told me about all of his teachers, the expectations for each class, and of course, we talked about football practice. He is playing on both the JV and Varsity teams this year, which he is overjoyed about, and Adam and I are extremely proud of all the dedication and hard work he has put in to accomplish such a feat. A freshman playing varsity requires hard work, talent, and a personal invite from the varsity coach. His first varsity game is this Friday night. We can’t wait! Go Raiders!


The back to school excitement has continued throughout the week. Weston and I spent the majority of yesterday morning on his first homework assignment. He had to make a “Me doll”. It was a fun project, and he was excellent at painting and using the glue stick. I did all of the cutting, but the quality time together was priceless. Banks has already had two quizzes, and today is only the third day, but he seemed confident in the material, which was over the three books he had to read for summer reading. 

The new beginnings really hit home this morning, as I went into Weston’s room to wake him up, he was already completely dressed including his socks and shoes. As I walked by the bathroom, Banks was shaving his face. Those same tears that filled my eyes two days ago were coming back. After Weston hopped right out of the van in car line this morning, the tears began to flow. I prayed and asked God to take care of my boys, and I decided that I could handle this one of two ways. I could cry and be sad that my babies aren’t babies anymore, or I could be thankful that I have such intelligent, independent children that love God and love others. My daddy offered me some great advice this morning as he reminded me that this is all just part of the process moving on from one chapter to the other. So, as for these new beginnings, I’m thankful. I’m thankful for an incredible school like Houston Academy. I’m thankful that no matter what, our boys will always be our children, and we will always be there for them when they need us, and I’m thankful for the village of family and friends that have helped mold and make Banks and Weston into the wonderful young men that they are. Here’s to another fantastic school year!


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Family, Food, Freedom, and FUN

After taking a week off from blogging in order to volunteer my free time to cooking food and serving over 150 youth and chaperones at our church last week, I was in desperate need of some  relaxing, family time at the beach. 

My parents have a vacation home at Baypoint in Panama City, FL. They just moved in March, so this was our first visit. My brother and his girlfriend drove down, my sister was there, and obviously my parents were there too. It was fabulous! The photo above is the view from their living room. My dad had us all stop what we were doing to watch the most amazing sunset I’ve ever seen, and it was breathtaking! 
Saturday was a beautiful day on the Gulf of Mexico! The sugary white sand was so soft and relaxing, and the water was perfectly cool and clear. We set up camp in front of Schooners, which has been labeled “the last local beach club.” 

Adam, Weston, and Aunt Hope built the most amazing sandcastle of all time! Weston also enjoyed jumping the waves with mommy and daddy and picking up sea shells along the beach. My mom, Ashley, Jud, Banks, and I all gave paddle boarding a shot. My mom is extremely fit for 60 years old. She teaches yoga for goodness sake. About a month ago, she decided to buy a YOLO board, and I’m so glad she did! It was absolutely the worst day to try this for the first time due to the number of people in the ocean as well as the number of boats and jet skis passing by, but we all had a blast trying this new sport. I promise it is NOT as easy as it looks. We all were able to get up to at least our knees on the board, but Banks was practically a prodigy. He did awesome! I can’t wait to try it again. I wish we had more photos of us trying it.

After spending all day on the beach, we had a laughter-filled evening grilling burgers and playing cards. Adam and I played my dad and Jud in a game of spades, and Adam and I got slaughtered! I love my husband with every ounce of my being, but there isn’t one competitive bone in his body, but we surely did laugh….A LOT!!!! Banks dominated Aunt Hope in a few games of Skip- Bo, my mom just watched, and Aunt Ashley and Weston enjoyed snuggle time and went to bed early.

Sunday was my baby brother’s 33rd birthday, and I’m so thankful we were able to be together to celebrate. My manclan and I spent some of the morning taking family photos outside the condo in front of the bay. While some may view my obsession with family photos as lame, they mean the world to me. I’m so thankful for my manclan and want to document every memory that I possibly can.

I’m so thankful for wonderful weekends like this one, and I can’t wait until Christmas because I’m sure that will be the next time we are all able to get together again. My boys loved getting to spend time with their TG, Pops, Aunt Ash, and Uncle Jud. No matter the time or distance between us, through technology, we are able to talk to one another on a regular basis. We all enjoyed getting to meet Hope, and she definitely has my stamp of approval! She was a perfect fit! As I was praying Sunday morning, I was thinking about all those grains of sand that slipped between my toes on the beach, and I was thinking of God’s love for me. How incredible to have a God that loves me more than all the grains of sand on all the seashores. I know that my family loves me and my manclan pretty close to that much, and it’s all such a blessing. Thanks, mom and dad, for an amazing weekend, and a huge happy birthday to my brother, and a very humble thank you to all of our forefathers that risked it all to give us this incredible country!