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Heaven Tutson, fiancé of Green Bay Packers DE, Mike Daniels Jr, recently spent time with SiS sharing about her life and career. Heaven stays busy with two young children, three blogs, a couple of businesses and planning a summer wedding. She also puts a lot of work into brining SiSters in sports together and breaking the stereotypes often unfairly placed on us. Learn more about Heaven, her family and her life below!
Tell us a little about yourself and your family.
I am a 28 year old mother of two beautiful little boys… Michael III who is 2 years old, and Kaydence who just turned 6 months. They actually share the same birthday two years apart, so they are my little twins in a way! I am engaged to my better half, Mike Daniels Jr. who is a DE for the Green Bay Packers, and has an undergrad degree in Sociology. I have two degrees; my undergrad degree is Fine Arts (Music): Vocal Performance and my masters degree is in early childhood education. I am originally from California. I grew up in Iowa, though, and I attended school in West Virginia for my undergrad degree. I met Mike in Iowa where he attended The University of Iowa. He is originally from New Jersey. I am one of 6 children, raised in a single parent household by our amazing mother who did everything she could to make sure we had great childhoods.
As you know, we recently featured The Better Half TV show and your friend, Geeta Bishop. What has your experience been like on the show?
The Better Half TV show has honestly been such a breath of fresh air. As a busy mother of two, I look forward to taping, hanging out with my girlfriends and promoting positivity, as well as giving an inside look into our lives. I feel that I have definitely grown as a co-host on the show. When I first started out, I was a bit nervous… I mean, it’s not every day that you are acting “natural” with a camera in your face, but over time it has become easier, and I cannot wait until the next season starts. Everyone I worked with was amazing, and I am thankful Geeta (Bishop) asked me to be a part of such a great show! I love it!
Most memorable guest/experience?
From what I’ve read, the guest list for TBG has included Oprah and several others. In my experience on the show, I honestly have loved having other spouses come on the show. It’s always nice to learn more about my fellow peers. I really loved the chefs coming on as well! I love food, so it was always fun learning new recipes, and seeing others working in their craft. I can appreciate anyone who comes on the show because we can all learn from each other, and everyone has something different to bring to the table.
You’re from Iowa City, Mike attended the University of Iowa, is that how you two met? Was it love at first site?
YES! You can definitely say that it was love at first site. When I would come home to visit my family in Iowa City from West Virginia, I would attend my sibling’s events. Mike used to work with an organization in Iowa City called “The Spot,” which provided Christian ministry and fun activities for youth in the area. That’s where Mike met my sister Majesty, who he ended up mentoring. As her mentor he would attend her events, and when I would visit he noticed me. When I came home one summer he told my sister to invite me to an event because he wanted to meet me. I had no clue who he was at the time, and so I invited all my girlfriends out to the event as well. In my mind, it was just going to be a fun get together and I had no clue years later Mike and I would be engaged, with two kids, and getting married this upcoming summer. I was headed out of the mixer with my friends because we had been there awhile and wanted to go somewhere else. Right before I left, he came up to me and said, “So you’re going to leave without speaking to me?” I laughed because I didn’t realize he had been near me all night. I guess he wanted to see if I would notice him :). We ended up exchanging information, and from that point on it was a fairytale. We hung out pretty much every day that summer, and our friendship grew into a relationship. That was the best summer of my life, and now I get to keep him by my side forever.
Looking back, were you prepared for the life of a wife in the NFL?
In many ways I can say that I was prepared because I had a very hard life growing up, so facing challenges wasn’t new to me. I knew it would require a lot of work, and that many changes would be made. I understood that there were more precautions to take which I didn’t necessarily have to worry about before. There were also a lot of things I had to adjust to, such as moving away from my family and close friends, and really getting established on our own, as a family unit with minimal help. I have always been nurturing as I helped raise my siblings so the work load doesn’t faze me. In fact, if I am not extremely busy I go a little crazy. 🙂 Just like in college, it is important to support Mike and make his home life as easy and comfortable as possible. As long as we keep GOD first, and our household is in order, than everything else falls into place.
What are some things you and the family like to do during the offseason?
Initially, we just take time to relax! It’s not too often that we get to just do nothing, or do what we want when we want… so the first week or so, we like to stay up late, go on dates, and take the kids to do fun stuff. Our 2 year old LOVES Chuck E. Cheese, so that’s always on the list of places to go! After enjoying our down time, we like to travel, see our families, and start getting ready for the next season. For Mike that means working out, and I like to work out as well so we usually train together, which is a lot of fun. While traveling we like to sightsee, and try out great food spots! It’s safe to say we are foodies because we always are looking for a new good restaurant to try out. We enjoy the movies, and I personally love visiting different zoos and aquariums. The kiddos enjoy that as well!
As we’re well aware, being a pro sports couple can come with many challenges. Have you and Mike had to overcome any obstacles?
Mike has always been seen as the “underdog,” so being drafted in a middle round, being told he was undersized, and overcoming an injury before the start of his first NFL season was a challenge. Because of his injury, he wasn’t able to play in the senior bowl, or perform in the combine, which was said to have hurt his draft stock. For Mike it has meant working hard to silence the doubters, staying healthy, and proving himself as the talented football player that he is. For me it means, helping out wherever I can. If Mike needs me to stretch him, I do. If he needs 3 meals a day, I cook them. If he is having a rough day, I take time to uplift him, be his strength and motivator… even if I have had a rough day myself. Being a stay at home is a lot of work, and that can be challenging at times also. I have found a pretty good balance of taking care of our kiddos, taking care of home, being a best friend and supportive fiancé, and still finding time to have a little me time (usually late at night, but better late than never) as well as a social life. All in all, the hardest challenge is balancing everything, but we do our best. We have strong faith, and we keep a positive mindset. Phillippians 4:13 states, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” and that’s what we live by. GOD first, and everything else after.
On the other end, what is the most rewarding or memorable experience thus far?
We have so many fond memories already! The most memorable experience thus far would be when Mike recovered a fumble, and ran it back 43 yards for a touchdown, followed by a terrible but very memorable Lambeau leap. That was SO exciting to watch. It’s not every day you see a 300lb defensive end running with the football! The stadium was so hyped, and the energy was awesome! That was the first time since 1941 that a rookie defensive lineman returned a fumble for a touchdown.
Here’s the link if you want to watch! http://www.packers.com/media-center/videos/DE-Mike-Daniels-takes-Stafford-fumble-to-the-house/d97c7554-f080-467c-b134-7ef60b5a1e5d
Aside that, having our second son has been very rewarding and memorable for us as well, getting engaged, and both of our careers starting to blossom.
You started the “Gridiron Divas Winning” movement with the goal of breaking the stigmas and stereotypes around athletes and their spouses. What motivated you to launch this initiative?
I am such a strong woman of faith, and a positive being. I just want to spread that positivity to everyone I can. Often times reality TV has such a negative stigma when portraying the women who are married to professional athletes, and I wanted to break that stereotype down & shine a positive light on us instead. It’s important to lead by example, and that was a reason for launching “Gridiron Divas Winning.”
How has the reception been? Has it expanded to wives beyond Green Bay? Tell us more!
The reception has been great to those we have been able to connect with. I honestly think this can be bigger than it is. It isn’t limited to spouses of professional athletes, but women in general who are interested in empowering one another, sharing life experiences, and connecting with other like minded women. We do have some support from other spouses of professional athletes via twitter, and we are definitely looking forward to gaining more support of others in the near future. I am actually in the process of revamping some things that I think will help us to be more successful by doing so. We welcome all women to check us out, and support us! “We cook! We clean! We do everything! We ARE the team that supports the dream!”
Your son Michael III is already turning two, right? What’s it like being a mother? How have you found balance during the season of being a mom and football wife?
Michael III is 2, and Kaydence is 6 months. They keep me very busy! I often wonder what I did before being a mom ! The main thing that has helped me find balance with being a mom and afootball wife is staying organized. I love having a schedule, I love my “to do lists,” and I love calendars and planners. I like things to run smoothly, being organized definitely helps. Also, I have to make sure I have a little “me time,” because if I fall apart…. the household falls apart.
Has Michael III already shown interest in following in daddy’s footsteps?
Little Mike LOVES football! He always wants to play football and watch it. He actually recognizes the NFL network, and anytime he sees football stuff he points it out. It actually kind of tripped us out the first time he pointed to something football related and said, “football.” Mike and I were thinking “how did he know that”? But yes, I can guarantee football is in his future. Whenever football is on the screen, he grabs his helmet, football, slips on a pair of my or Mike’s shoes and runs around the living room throwing the ball, screaming “touch down,” or diving onto the floor.
As wives in sports, we’re always on the go. How do you find some serenity during the week? As we know, you’re really into health, fitness and track… Any tips for women on the road?
Sleep! If I get enough rest, I feel better and it’s easier for me to be in a great mood. Working out definitely is a stress reliever, plus when you look good, you feel good. On the go, it’s important to meal prep so you can continue to eat healthy, bring along a book or music to unwind with, and even if it’s something as small as taking a walk by yourself for ten minutes, make time for yourself daily. I personally love a little spa time, shopping, or an occasional girls night out.
What advice would you give fellow spouses to stay healthy and fit while following their husbands on the road?
Again, when you plan ahead, you have better results so planning out meals ahead of time is the key! Also, there are a lot of home workouts that can be done anywhere. Instagram has a lot of great fitness pages that you can browse to find a quick in-home workout! There’s no excuse not to do it, because it can be done anywhere… just make the time. Your body will thank you! No pain no gain.
Know you have a degree in education, would you ever consider getting back into teaching following Mike’s career?
I would love to teach! Most of the jobs I’ve had growing up involved working with kids, so even if I am not teaching, I would love to give back by working with kids in some way. Whether it be by opening and running a youth center, coaching, or teaching music. Music has always been my first love, so if I ever have the opportunity to fully pursue singing professionally, that would be my first option.
What would you say is the best part about being an NFL wife? The worst?
The best part, I would say, is seeing Mike live out his dreams, and supporting him through it. We are a team, so if he succeeds… so does our family. Teamwork truly does make the team work. I have also enjoyed making new friends and traveling. The worst? I am not sure what he worst part is, but I will say we have to be willing to take the good with the bad. The bad gives us a better appreciation for the good. Overall the experience has been life changing in a good way!
Any words of encouragement for new NFL wives?
No matter what be yourself. The ones who accept you for you are the ones GOD has for you. Keep GOD first! Support your spouse/family in every way that you can! Have fun! Network and get involved! Don’t forget about YOU while supporting your spouse… you are important too! Smile! Laugh! Make the most of the experience because you can’t get time back.
NFL wives travel quite a bit… favorite city? Favorite stadium?
I haven’t been to an away game yet. Mike’s first season we were trying to get a feel of how everything worked, etc, and Little Mike had just turned 1 so I was home with him because we didn’t have a set sitter yet. This second season we had a newborn so I was home with him the first half of the season. So, for now Green Bay and Lambeau take the cake! I actually really love our stadium, the fans, the energy, and attending games here!
Anything else people may not know about you?
I sing opera! I sell Mary Kay, and I am a freelance makeup artist and photographer. I have a passion for music, fashion, makeup and beauty. I am also an avid blogger: http://htut-mdanhomefront.blogspot.com/ I run three blogs, but my family one is my favorite. If you’re interested in checking out my Mary Kay page, the link is www.marykay.com/HEAVDANIELS and of course I will run a 25% discount for all SIS members if you contact me to place your order!
Be blessed! xoxo!