Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I Set My Alarm And Found My Mojo!

This morning I couldn't sleep.  I woke up just after 4am and just laid there.  I flipped.  I flopped.  Then I got up and, brace yourselves, went into the laundry room.  There is typically a pile here and there and everywhere in that room, despite my best efforts to organize my little flock.  I thought the solution to the piles was having a name frame for each child.  It wasn't.  But they do look nice on the wall.

Turns out the key to the laundry room is ACTUALLY doing laundry.  Who knew?  And the key to feeling like I actually did something productive was to just WAKE UP.  Well, more importantly, it was to wake up before the rest of "them."

I have been sort of MIA the past couple months.  I guess you could say I've been dealing with some demons.  Or more accurately, I've been looking for my next "project."  Projects help me focus on something besides me.  And sometimes, I'm just sick of ME.  I tend to get extremely motivated when I have something external I can focus on.  Usually when it's new and shiny...I'm all in.  Then when it starts to fade, so do I.

With five kids, two business and one daughter getting homeschooled, there isn't much extra time to address all the things that need to get handled in this household.  Things pile up.   My mood declines as I look around and see all the work that needs to be done. My family seems to be in a constant state of vision impairment.  Did he just step over that candy wrapper?  Did she just dance around the overflowing trash can.  Did he walk past his clean shirt on the cabinet AGAIN. Yep. Yep. And, yep.

Here's my little bit of wisdom for today.  Wake up early.  Wake up early even when you don't want to.  Wake up early even if you went to bed late.  Get up.  Get out of bed.  The children are sleeping.  The husband is sleeping and the house is QUIET.  And guess what?  You can actually get something done.  You can get something done without raising your voice, without yelling middle names of children, without huffing and puffing or the dreaded 'eye roll.'

The past several months I have been sleeping in, later and later.  I have always been a morning person.  But, my husband is not.  We are opposites as far as sleep schedules go.  He is a bad influence laying there all cozy and warm and snoring.  Today I was not tempted though. I just got up.  At 4:30 in the morning.  I didn't think twice.  And, I had forgotten how much I enjoyed that.  I had forgotten that I enjoyed having an hour or two to myself each day.  I had forgotten what it felt like to keep Mount Washmore at bay - running a load or two each day.  I had forgotten what it felt like to her myself think.  Remembering was pure bliss.

So, if you are struggling trying to keep your sanity while raising your children and tidying up a seemingly always messy abode....set your alarm.  You'll thank me for it.  I promise.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sugar, Soda And Depression: Time to Make A Change

My name is Kate and I'm a Pepsiholic.  I am not exactly sure when and where it started.  But, I have been addicted to soda for as long as I can remember.  Sure, I've quit here or there. However, I've never been able to truly kick the habit.  And to be honest, I often worry that I may NEVER beat the addiction.

The longest I was able to go without soda was in 2010.  Just after the birth of my fifth child, I decided to get healthy.  I figured since I wouldn't be having anymore children, it was finally time.  I quit soda in March of 2010 and made it to September 27th, 2010, the day AFTER my wedding.  I decided to get a root beer (since most root beer brands are not caffinated.  I thought that if I didn't have the caffeine, that I might not want to have another later one. 

Obviously, this thought process was totally flawed.  Afterall, the root beer was still SODA - filled with sugar and had the same affect the Pepsi had.  I found myself ordering more and more sodas.  Then, before I knew it, I was ordering Pepsi.  And the flood gates blew wide open. 

The soda makes me anxious, edgy, foggy, moody and dare I say it...FAT!  The sugary "devil juice" as I call it, is the foundation for all my other bad habits.  The high-fructose corn syrup is horrible for my body.  The after effects are completely predictable.  And yet, I give in time and again to my addiction. 

The past couple weeks I have been drinking a large amount of soda and craving sugary and salty snacks.  I used to try to hide the fact that I was drinking soda from The Husband, because he knows what it does to me.  We've had several conversations about me on soda and the words TRAIN WRECK often get thrown on the table.  It's hard and it makes me so sad.

I don't really drink alcohol.  I never have.  I tried when I was like 16 (Seagram's Wine Cooler - ooooh, what a boozer Kate).  But, I just got sick to my stomach.  No buzz.  No fun.  Just felt like I wanted to be sick.  Oh, and another lovely side effect of drinking alcohol for me?  Rosy red cheeks.  How lame.  How can someone who is predominately German and Irish NOT be able to drink?  I mean, come on. 

My point is...I don't know what it is like to deal with an alcoholic family member or spouse.  I wasn't exposed to drinking as a child.  I just assume that it's similar.  The problem is that you almost have to go looking for "drinks."  But soda, is readily available and social acceptable in any situation, at any time of day.  It's everywhere.  It's impossible to escape your exposure to it. 

I've argued before it's an additction that you can't really hide from anyone.  Soda does so many horrible things to your body.  But, gaining weight is the most obvious.  Soda just PACKS on the pounds.  And, most often, when you drink soda and have an addiction like I do, you don't drink ANYTHING else.  So water is never a consideration.  If I feel thirsty, I grab a soda. 

The Husband is silently observing my train wreck all over again.  He is watching me wake up each day and choose soda over him, over my kids, my business and myself.  I can't imagine the kind of patience this must require or the amount of grace he has given and will continue to give.  I wonder sometimes if it will ever get "used up."  And one day, he'll just look at me and say "You disgust me."  That makes me feel horrible about myself because he deserves so much more than living with an addicted spouse. 

I certainly didn't intend for this post to go all dark and scary on us.  But, I am writing from the heart.  I know there are other women out there reading this going "she gets it."  And, trust me, I do.  I get it.  But the problem is I want to let it go.  For good.  I don't want this addiction to define me or to devour me.  I don't want it to prevent me from being an active participant in my life, in my children's lives.  I don't want it to keep me out of a bathing suit for the 18th year in a row.  (Wow, now THAT is a wake up call). 

Most of time I don't like myself when I am drinking soda.  I think horrible, negative thoughts about myself.  I endure a lot of manic up days, followed by several down days.  Right now I am in a down phase.  This past week though, I cut 3+ inches off my hair (myself), took my daughter out of public school to put her in a homeschool co-op, spent crazy money on a shopping spree with my 8 year old daughter buying craft stuff, clothes and shoes, and who knows what else.  Oh, that's right...a puppy.  Luckily, through the grace of God, we have been able to integrate the sweet little guy into the house pretty well.  But, I tell you...there is just no limit to the insanity when it comes to Kate on Soda. 

I did a little research the other night on depression and soda.  The information is out there.  Check out this article from Psychology Today written just one year ago  And this article

For me, I don't think it's the realization that soda is bad that will spark change.  I think REAL CHANGE is going to have to come from above.  I am just not strong enough to beat this addiction on my own.  This is going to require Devine Intervention, for sure. It's time for actual on my knees prayers.  Humbling, honest and diligent prayer.

I listen to Joel Osteen a lot.  I think his messages are so uplifting and positive.  I really need that influence in my life.  Positivity.  Anyway, he speaks often of battling addicition and that we need to picture ourselves, or visualize, beating the addiction....overcoming it.

I think for so long I have believed I never would beat my soda addiction.  I think I have always thought that is would somehow contribute either directly or indirectly to my demise.  I have let it take root.  So, it's time to weed that garden and change the view.

I can honestly say the most significant thing that I've noticed these past couple weeks since I have been back on soda again is how it's affected my already fragile relationship with God.  I've felt myself drifting from Him. I am not praying like I was, connecting with HIM and I feel lost.  I am feeling overwhelmed, scared and intimidated.  I have no focus, no direction, no purpose. 

I can tell you that these lies I have been telling myself "One soda won't kill me" and "Maybe I'm not meant to be thin" don't have a place in my future.  I can choose to be the fat, lazy uninspired person I feel like I've allowed myself to become.  Or, I can FIGHT and demand a better life for myself.  I can pray and ask God to release me from the addiction.  I can wake up tomorrow, look myself in the mirror and say....ENOUGH KATE.  Enough. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Homeschooling? When The Husband Says No

Reently we've hit quite a bump in the public school road.  With five kids, we're no stranger to the public school shortcomings - crazy large classrooms creating an environment that is preventing kids from learning (and I heard today that next year the class size will be expanded to 38), teachers that seem either unprepared or uninterested in actually teaching students, nutritionally non-existant lunches (and now the pink ooze gets a place at the lunch tables too??  and an overload of administrators who seems to be there to just make things more difficult for everyone involved. But, I'd  never really considered anything else to be an option, until last week. 

Last week after a conference with my daughter's principal. Apparently she turned in one of The Husband's checks she'd filled out for a Scholastic book order. I didn't realize just how desparate an 8 yr old could get over Scholastic books.  She was worried we wouldn't have been back from our business trip in time to order.  So she just took matters into her own hands.  Fortunately, "Megatron" had already confessed to the crime so I wasn't completely blindsided. 

As the principal and I were discussing my daughter's dabbling into the dirty underbelly of forgery, it hit me. Was I actively raising my child? Was I doing what I could for her education?  Or was I just on auto-pilot, passively dropping her off and picking her up, trusting that our public school was providing the necessary instruction.

The Husband and I both own and operate our own business, typically working Monday-Friday pretty much 8-5.  We are already struggling to squeeze every last minute out of our work-week. So, When parents work, what are the options when local public schools just don't cut it?  Are there any?  Private schools = huge cash.  We want to buy a house in the next year or so.  So, that was out.  Homeschooling = too much time, not enough socialization.

I had mentioned the idea of homeschooling a few  years back to The Husband.  I think we both decided homeschooling was just too much for us then.  With five kids and two businesses, I don't think that was a bad decision. 

During the meeting with the principal, I  mentioned to the her, check writing aside, that my daughter was struggling to stay within her expected range.  She was doing homework and we were paying extra for a supplemental tutoring class three days a week.  I told her we were paying extra for supplementary tutoring in both reading and math.  I brought up the fact that my daughter was in her second year of being in a class where the teacher was switched half way through the year.  The principal told me that that is not one of the things they look at when making classroom assignments.  I couldn't stop wondering why not?  Why wouldn't they look at that, especially in children they termed "bright" but were just not hitting the marks they should be? 

I just couldn't shake the feeling that public schools don't care about kids anymore.  They have lost their way, somewhere and now our kids are paying the price.  If they aren't looking at whether or not a child's education is being disrupted with a new teacher switch during the year AGAIN, what ARE they looking at?  I started to realize that the recent homework struggle cry-fests my daughter had been displaying and a new appreciation for not going to school....just might have something to do with the her second teacher this year.  This seemed logical to me since the teacher that had taken over for the rest of the year had a reputation for being much harder on the kids, than the teacher that had started the year out with her class.

Here's where the struggle begins.  After giving the discussion with the principal some thought.  I spoke to The Husband.  I told him I thought we should request that the principal switch our daughter into another classroom.  I said I think she's just not responding well to the environment in that classroom.  And, given the fact she was switched last year (although with a much less eventful history) we certainly have the right to request her transfer, I thought. 

The principal spoke with my husband over the phone and basically said they would not transfer my daughter.  She went on to tell him that we had a parent teacher conference coming up in a week or so and that we should discuss these issues with our daughter's teacher.  Okay, I'm all for having a "procedure/process" in place for handling certain situations and curtail overinvolved parents demanding their children be moved repeatidly.  However, I guess I just don't get how  talking to the teacher is going to change or improve any of the issues at hand.  I don't have any opinions of the teacher. In fact, I have not met her.  I just feel that my daughter isn't getting a fair shake in a program that is supposed to be putting her first. 

I did a little research and found a program in our community called Umana Fine Arts Academy.  They are a little school just down that street that offers a 3 Day Homeschooling program option.  They offer instruction (with kids in uniform) M/W/F from 8:30-1:30pm.  They teach a well rounded ciriculum of history, fine arts, english ...oh AND THE BIBLE!  Hello!  You're not going to find THAT in a public school. How amazing is that?  You can check it all out here

My daughter would be off Tuesday and Thursday and would be expected to complete home assignments those two days.  When you are already doing homework M-F, doing it only T/Th seems quite appealing. They encourage a program that allows the children to learn from everyday life as well as from teachers and books.  This means she could work along side me here at the office learning about how we do things there as well.  I know my lifestyle affords me this option and that most families don't have this choice.  And I am grateful to even be entertaining the option right now. 

I have never really considered homeschooling an option until I found their site.  I just didn't think I would be able to be disciplined enough to give her what she needed when she needed and not always have some greater issue to deal with (read Target).

I had no idea that there were programs like this out there that give parents the option and the flexibility.  I spoke this morning to Maureen at Umana.  She went over the program in detail and also mentioned that they offer a fine arts program on Tuesday from 12-3:30.  She mentioned drama, music and voice.  And those just suit my little daughter to a tee. 

Apparently though, The Husband, didn't share my interest and enthusiasm about the possibility of homeschooling when I brough it up this past Friday after work.  And just to be clear, I am only talking about homeschooling my third grade daughter.  My two older boys will be in high school, a freshman and a senior.  My tow younger boys are attending Montessori. 

I thought we'd use our daughter as a test subject of sorts.  We could pull her from public school and give this program a go.  I was already setting myself up to not work at the office Tues and Thurs when this program dropped into my lap.  And, if I did chose to continue working those days, she could go into the office with me and work on her studies there in my private office.  After all, shouldn't that be a perk of being your own boss and running your own business?  I think so. 

I don't spend all that much time with my kids at this point in my life.  We are always so busy with work and then dinner and chores.  When is there time to just BE with them?  It hurts to type that and to think about what is going to happen to my relationship with them in the future and how that is shaping/not shaping them as people and citizens of this great planet.  When they grow up to become adults, will I have contributed?  Or will they be products of a cookie cutter public school program that is already failing them? 

I feel like the whole time I've been typing this that Eminem song, Lose yourself, is playing in my head.  Not sure where it came from because I've been listening to country for weeks.  But, honestly.  Is it that we are too busy to homeschool as The Husband thinks.  Or is it that we are too scared?  Too comfortable with our current routine (that isn't working either by the way). The what if syndrome does settle in and I find myself wondering...what if I stink at the 'at home' part?  Can I make her studies the biggest priority of Tues/Thurs?  What effects will all this have on my business that seems to be in a big growth phase right now? 

I believe that The Husband should be the head of the household and deserves my respect as well as the respect of the children.  But, I also believe that sometimes, as mothers, we do know what's best or necessary to care for our children... nuture, protect and guide them.  And right now...I feel as though God is leading us to Umana.  How do I get him to see things the way I see them, so positive.  How do I get him to say YES when he's already said NO?   

How many of you out there have considered homeschooling?  If you chose to stick with tradtional school, why did you?  If you chose to cannonball yourself into homeschooling, what helped you take that jump?  I would love to hear your thoughts and comments. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Blissdom: A Newbie's Tale

Please note:  The pictures included in this post are taken by an anti-photographer equipped only with an iphone.  Sad, but true.  Please keep expectations LOW.

I've been back from my first Blissdom Conference for just about a week. I am still trying to process all that I experienced, the people I met, the overall feeling of acceptance and love that was so clearly a part of it all.  Of course, like many of the attendees, I thought I would write all these amazing posts while I was there and be flooded with content for posts long after.  There's two problems with that expectation: 1) the internet at Gaylord Opryland was incredibly slow in the cascades wing, putting the kabash on my plans to wow everyone with my timely literary genius and 2) I greatly underestimated just how much I would get out of the Blissdom Conference (clearly a total newb here) and didn't realize that six days days later, I'd still be soaking it all in. 

It all started innocently enough while I was politely stalking the words and wisdom of Bernice Woods at  It was there I spotted my first Blissdom ad.  Her posts are genuine and provide a road map of sorts to help others battle depression and unstick themselves from the quicksand life can sometimes become.  Since I pretty much think Bernice rocks, I clicked the ad to see what Blissdom was all about.  If she was promoting it, I would certainly be interested in it.  I have five children, four boys and one girl, not necessarily in that order and I'm no stranger to depression and feelings of overwhelm. Those feelings are just par for the course with a family this large when you don't have a clear purpose yourself.  And at 38, I was still searching and praying for mine, unfortunately.  I had no idea it was about to be revealed to me in a BIG way.  (Details coming soon)

I clicked the Blissdom link, I read less than 10 words and was already clicking over to register.  I wasn't even sure why I was going.  Was I a self-improvement groupie?  What was my true purpose for going?  What did I hope to take away from the experience?  I was in the process, at the time I registered, of designing my personal blog.  But, I hadn't posted anything yet.  Would I actually put pen to paper, or keyboard keys to monitor and write?  What would I write about?  Would people even care to read it?  What if I never wrote a word? I had no answers to any of these questions.  And, despite my fear of the unknown, I was determined to not only attend, but really make the most of this conference - my first Blissdom.  
Since I didn't know a soul, and since we had traveled to Nashville in 2011 and loved it there, I asked The Husband to come along with me to Blissdom.  I thought having him there might help me feel a little more at ease OR he would be available if I just froze up stiff from fear and retreated to my room.  I thought either way, I'm covered.  As it turns out, I am very grateful to him for coming.  From the first flight out to the drive home late sunday night he was there for me. He laid low, attended a couple Nashville Predator's games, took a few naps and despite the crippling internet speeds in our Cascades section of the hotel, was able to finish up the coding we needed to launch the new website redesign we'd been working hard to have done in time for blissdom.  He was a great source of encouragement and even a little tough love when I was tired from all the hustle and bustle and just wanted to nap , he suggested I get back in the game so that I didn't miss out.  I'm thankful he did because each time I got something greater out of that next experience.  So here's to husbands that are loving and supportive!  Hollah!  

On the way from Orange County to Nashville, I felt like a little kid headed to Disneyland.  I was looking around for the little blue suitcases on luggage to try to spot other Blissdom attendees.  I was feeling anxious about what I'd wear, meeting new people and million other things.  But, I was excited.  And that excitement overshadowed all the other butterflies and what-ifs.  And then, I had my first Blissdom spotting, in the Houston airport at the gate for our connector flight  - GASP!  Lisa Leonard, from  She was going to be on our flight to music city!  Lisa and her team create and sell some of the sweetest jewelry I've seen.   I jabbed my husband, "look...look, it's Lisa Leonard!"  He said, "Go talk to her.  Say Hi."  I thought he was crazy, and certainly told him that.  He said I bet you $10 you won't go say hi.  There I stood, challenged. So now he owes me $10.  Remind me to collect on that.  

We arrived at the Gaylord Opryland hotel and I was blown away.  It was lovely.  It felt like a cross between Las Vegas (one of my favorite places) without the gambling and Disneyland without the crowds and rides.  Our room was nice and had a view of the Atrium.  Well to be honest, we had a view of the rocks of the BACK of the waterfall.  But over those rocks, we knew there was a gorgeous view.  I unpacked and was certain I wouldn't sleep at all, filled with anticipation.  But, thanks to my White Noise app, I slept like a baby.

Thursday morning we drove over to Cracker Barrel, and had breakfast. I was super stoked because I grew up in the midwest with them and we don't have them in California.  We had fun because there were tons of bloggers there.  I didn't know any of them.  But, we could hear Blissdom this and Blissdom that or my blog this and my traffic that in the random conversations across the room. While we ate we played that ridiculously difficult triangle game.  I was never able to beat it.  A strategist, I am not. 

The Husband made it a point to keep me on schedule and reminded me I needed to get registered.  So, we drove back to the hotel.  I headed to registration and picked up a very unexpected swag bag so full of swag that it wouldn't all fit in the bag.  I thought geez, I need a wagon to carry all this around.  I lugged it all back to the room. Upon arrival, I proceeded to lay it all out on the bed so The Husband could check it all out with me.  There was so much stuff in there and HELLO, a Simple Human sensor pump, SHUT UP!!  So awesome! I felt like a V.I.P.!  Next up, Newcomer 's First Bliss Meet UP.  

For months I looked forward to the experiences I'd have alongside the other Blissdom attendees.  I knew I'd be crazy shy and this newcomers event would help me meet a few women that could become familiar faces throughout the rest of the event.  I walked into the room where they were hosting the meet up and was met with the vision of a sea of women, all shapes and sizes, grouped together and the sound of endless conversations.  I said "wow" outloud.  I stood by the door not sure how to penetrate the gigantic cluster of women.  Not too long after I'd stepped in, another attendee stepped in.  I heard her say "Wow."  I looked at her and we both laughed. 

I wasn't sure what to do just yet.  But, I thought I would share a picture of room with my social media girl at the office since I'd been texting her thoughts and pictures of the event so far.  I wanted to include her in the experience even though she couldn't be there.  As I was taking the picture, I was approached by Stephanie Precourt, one of the fabulous community leaders (with the most delicious felted bag I'd ever seen and yeah, she made it..hello! crazy talented).  Stephanie wanted to make sure I was having a good experience and asked me a few questions.  She was so cute and so friendly.  She and I talked about "small style" (despite owning a children's resale website I had never heard the term before) and gave me her card   Welcoming, comforting, reassuring..she was truly one of my Blissdom highlights.  If it weren't for her, I probably would have left the room...just feeling a little intimidated by all the people not knowing where to start.  So a big thank you to Stephanie! 

 Talking with Stephanie allowed me to stay long enough to catch a glimpse of a familiar face, Bernice Wood!  I am sure I acted a little star-struck.  But, she has had a big impact on the recent changes in my life.  We had a couple pictures taken, sadly I didn't think to have someone use my camera (next time, Bernice).  And she and I talked and talked until we realized the room had cleared out and we were the only ones in there.  Love those conversations.  She was also a community leader and she made that extra effort to reach out and include me several times throughout the event.  Another highlight! Thank you Bernice! 

I am new to all of this, new to the blogging world and blogging conferences.  It was important to me to be me, to be genuine.  I didn't want to try to meet each and every attendee.  My goal was simple.  Meet a few women, spend more time with those I felt like I truly connected with and then stay in touch.  I am not sure if that's what you are supposed to do.  But, that was my plan.   

Thursday night at the reception, I had the pleasure of meeting up with Becca from  She and I had been tweeting back and forth a little before Blissdom and she invited me to meet up with her amazing entourage: Nicole, Karen and Kara  I haven't had that much fun in years.  Thursday we chatted and got the chance to get to know them a little and what they blog about.  They were the go to group at the rest of the parties, always willing to include me.  I can't express how nice that made me feel.  I just don't have words. Thank you just doesn't seem enough. 
On the way back to my room Thursday, I overheard a conversation with a phrase that caught my attention and I just had to comment.  I ended up meeting three hilarious women, Katy, Jen and Barb  A chance meeting, yes.  Great ladies, yes.  So glad we crossed paths.  They are just so much fun and hopefully they remember that toilet paper in your shoes is no substitute for gel pads.

This post is getting a little wordy, okay a lot wordy, so in the interest of word preservation and dry eye prevention here's the rest of the good stuff on the fast track.  The sponsors and exhibitors were fabulous.  I love my Dr. Scholl sneakers that were free from Famous Footwear.  They are so comfortable! One of my favorite booths was the Hallmark booth.  I carded and got carded.  Fun!  All the parties were amazing - great food, great entertainiment - done the way I would do them with amazing attention to detail. 

Keynote speaker Jon Acuff, couldn't have been more perfect (more on this in the next post).  The Lorax party was whimsically decorated with truffula trees and paper lanterns, adorable. Rascal Flatts played an incredibly intimate show and we were right up front (I tweeted that night that I think I FLOATED back to my room).   
And Michael Hyatt's session on Creating a Life plan was an eye opener.  I'd been following his blog in recent months and was honored to meet him, get a picture with him and a head start on my plan to live with intention. 
The Girls Night in was great despite the fact that I traveled out Saturday, missing a session, to get pajamas because I'd planned on going to the hockey game with The Husband.  I just didn't want to miss out on the party and the sneak peak with Oprah and Paula Dean.  

Regrets? No.  But there are a couple things I noticed I goofed on and need to fix next time.  1) I didn't have any social media info on my business cards 2) I didn't have business cards at all for my blog, just my business - Der, Kate! and 3) I had the name of my blog wrong on my registration and badge (really Kate?) It's  Whoops! What a newb! 

There just really aren't words, or at least words I'm equipped with, to describe it all at Blissdom.  I've read a few of the posts from other attendees and they seem to have presented their experiences well.  I, on the other hand, am just in awe. STILL in utter awe.  The only words that come even close are extremely cliche or so  over-used they don't seem worthy of such a magical event.  Now, I'm even analyzing the word magical.  I like the images that the work magical conjures up.  But, I believe that God was clearly at work there, touching lives, changing hearts, planting seedling ideas and connecting people in ways they most likely wouldn't understand for possibly years to come.  And He certainly deserves the glory. 

So if you are considering Blissdom next year.  Stop considering and start saving.  I guarantee it will be worth every last penny.  You'll almost feel as if you owe them when you leave.  The experience is just unforgettable.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Time Is Running Out, Only 24 Hours Left

So I have been up since 3 am this morning.  The Husband came home just before 3, he was at the office making the changes to the website so we can go live in time for Blissdom.  I was awake for some odd reason and chatted with him a minute as he got ready for bed.  He pulled up the work that he'd done on his iphone.  The commercial was officially on the homepage, and it looked so great!

He is constructing the site on another url so we can play with it and work out the bugs before we go live and replace the current site at  I can't begin to tell you what a HUGE improvement this new site is over the one we are getting ready to replace.  It is so bright, modern and cheerful.  I hope the customers love it as much as we do.  

I was so excited.  He was so tired.  I decided I'd get up and see what I could accomplish.  I put a load of laundry in, and headed downstairs.  I swept and mopped the kitchen floor, sorted and purged about 18 lbs of paperwork that had piled up on our counter and cleaned off the desk in his man cave (it was BAD).  The Husband is certainly not as organized as I am.  Of course, what man IS organized.  I don't know many.

I guess I'm just a tad bit worried about getting up so ridiculously early.  I only have today left to get ready for Blissdom.  I need to find outfits in my closet or shop for some.  I need to pick "comfy" shoes, they say that's key.  I need to shop for groceries so the kiddos have food while we're gone.  Yikes...

However, clearly I'm going to hit a wall at some point today and be crazy tired. The ideas I had about being prepared and looking fabulous are going to be challenged by my lack of sleep and impending sack out.  Why does this always happen the day before some big event in my life.  It's actually pretty funny, because it DOES always happen.  I guess at this point I should see it coming and prepare, or make different choices - like 4 advil PMs.  But at this point, obviously I'm not that bright.

Oh and to add to the madness the pilot light is out.  I don't know how to light it and I need to get a shower.  I have a BIG day ahead of me.  I can't go to work all stank-ified.  But, I am certainly NOT taking a cold shower.  Wait.  Come to think of it, THIS happens everytime, too.  Holy Cow! I'm not kidding.  It's like a series of unfortunate events....greg stays up late for some reason and I think WTH why does he stay up late the night before we have something BIG (this time it was for me so I'll overlook that), I can't sleep and end up getting up way too early and start playing catch-up, then I go to shower and BRRRR!

Funny the stuff life throws at you, especially when you put stuff off 'til the last minute...or 24 hours in my case.  

(photo credit:

Monday, February 20, 2012

Progress Doesn't Always Mean Moving FORWARD

One of my biggest thrills comes from seeing things progress, actually SEEING movement.  I love it when I am productive, getting things accomplished, checking off my to do list. In other words, moving forward.  I get addicted to that feeling that I am making a difference in something, for someone or just improving my overall quality of life whether it be business or home related. 

I mentioned it before, though.  I am a major critic of myself.  My expectations are crazy high.  And the problem at this point is that once I see what I am capable of, I want MORE the next time.  So, I'm constantly uping my own game. 

Right now, I am eyeballs deep in a complete brand overhaul.  I have been in business for almost 9 years doing chidren's resale, new and gently used baby clothing, toys and accessories, online at  It started out in my garage with a few items stored neatly and posted online for the world to see.  The orders didn't pour in at first...but eventually they came.  Little by little.  One by one. 

Over the years, business has grown and my sales have typically doubled each year. I've moved from a small office to a small office with a warehouse, to a bigger office with a gigantic warehouse and hired a few of the world's greatest employees.  Our new location perfectly represents the concept I have always envisioned for the Baby Outfitter brand, a modern twist on upscale children's resale. 

I decided that the site, I'd been operating for years, was out-dated and not very user friendly.  It didn't embody the overall experience I wanted my customers to have with us.  So, we set about constructing an entirely new site that was loads more user-friendly, with some super-fab new concepts, that represented the brand more accurately and most importantly was forward thinking in terms of building a community within popular social media.

This lead to a dreamer's dream.  What if the site could do this?  Oh...and what if shoppers could have this?  Dreams got big, quick, let me tell ya. But, we had to think quickly and start implementing these ideas.

So, I decided to tap into that ever powerful world of mommy bloggers out there and get the word out in a very creative way, a video fashion shoot.  We contracted with Kiera at and began shooting, in less than 2 days mind you, an incredibly PERFECT little commercial featuring some of the cutest little local models, ranging in size from newborn to 8, to show off some of our products in fun and unique way.

The video photo shoot turned out EXACTLY as we'd hoped.  And we are so happy to be getting it ready to load on the site. We purchased a commissioned song from Bella Ruse, a wonderfully quirky duo with some amazing talent and a perfect sound to represent our brand...check them out at  (Be sure to listen to Satan Served Me's stuck in my head.)

Things were moving so fast.  Working on the website, coming up with new text, formats and concepts, shifting gears to the fashion shoot and compiling outfits from our inventory and matching them up to the models we had available, designing props and reviewing clips.  But, now the pace has slowed a bit. 

Unfortunately, I didn't go to school for any of this.  I'm just a mom.  A mom with five kids trying to run a business and maintain some sort of household.  The more I pursue, the more I realize how much I need to learn.  I'm not IT guy and although I have a vision for design, in terms of how I want things to look, I am not able to program, code or design graphically.  So, I have done what I can on paper and passed my work on to those who CAN do those things.  And now, I wait.  I wait with the perverbial ants in my pants. 

I spent most of yesterday, here at the office, (yes..I was working on sunday - have to stop doing that)feeling frustrated about my ability to navigate my way through all the html, the graphic design, the twitter tweets, the facebook posts, the pinterest stuff I have yet to learn, ...there is just so much right now.  So many things that I am not totally prepared to act on. And most of the time lately, I feel like I am four steps behind everyone else.  So, the waiting was taking a bit of a toll on me. 

I had a conversation last week with Katie, one of my fabulous team members.  I woke up this morning with a statement I'd made her to, stuck in my head.  Progress doesn't always mean moving forward.  Progress is progress.  And although I feel right now that everything is at a stand-still and I should be working faster, harder on....fill in the blanks...I need to step back and take a look at how far we've actually come in such a short amount of time. Take a look at how much we've accomplished and how great it feels to completly NAIL IT!

 I am just so quick to judge myself and say I should or I could.  Why? 

Sometimes, idling in neutral is progress.  Idling is the opportunity to look back, analyze thoughts, gather data while building momentum.  And THAT my friends, is what give us the power to shoot forward again.

There you have it.  Progress doesn't always have to mean moving forward.  So don't beat yourself up about slowing down, or even staying in the same place, just make sure you keep that "engine" reving because you're about to go places - places you've never dreamed.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Toot My Own Horn

I founded in 2003.  Since then I have been pretty much working by myself to build the business - buying inventory, making changes to the site with The Huband's help.  But recently, I stumbled upon some great employees and decided it was time to take things to turn up the heat and really get things going. 

Since we are adding employees and implenting new procedures and carving out new positions, we are basically going through the growing pains of a start-up.  There is so much going on in the office on a daily basis.  Everyone is busy and we leave at the end of the day feeling like there's so much more we could do, that we NEED to do. 

I don't always have all the answers and I doubt that I'm the World's Greatest Boss.  But, I learned something from reading Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh.  I need to create an environment that reflects the values that I feel are important to running this business.  My choices set the tone for the office/business.

I want my team members to feel valued and appreciated.  I want us to know when it's time to work hard and know when it's time to have fun.  I want them to know that their ideas are heard and often implemented.  Why?  Because that is somewhere I'd like to work! 

A few weeks ago, while working on some new text for the website redesign, someone joked about tooting their own horn.  We all laughed.  It was appropriate for that team member deserved some recognition for what she'd done.  Then, a few days later, someone else joked that they wanted to toot their horn for an idea they'd come up with. 

So I went to work.  I jumped on and purchased a few bicycle horns and had them shipped to the house.  Then I went into my sorely under-used craft room and found some cute patterned paper and went to work creating individual tags for each team member.  I thought the idea was just so darn cute.  The picture isn't very clear and it's only a few of the horns, sorry...I was in a hurry to post this before I had to actually work - on work. 

The next day I arrived at the office and unveiled the new horns.  I told them that whenever they did something fantastic or came up with an idea that would help our efficiency/production/etc., that they should toot their own horns. 

These days people tend to criticize themselves, sell themselves short and feel undervalued.  I wanted to give my team members a way to stop and say Yay for me!  Look what I did.  And I am so happy with the results. 

When's the last time YOU tooted YOUR own horn?