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Sunday, November 6, 2016

Branching Out

Ems here:

 Hi everyone! All is well in our household, just busy, busy. Soccer season has just ended--we had 3 kids in rec soccer and 3 in travel soccer. Our life was pretty much lived at the fields. The littles got used to packing up our survival "snack bag" for the hours spent on the long as we had a steady flow of food, they entertained themselves quite well jumping off bleachers, pulling up weeds to make me lovely bouquets, or tackling each other in the grass. 

We are knee-deep in school. The rest of our time is spent making sure Gemma (20 months now) doesn't fall off the top bunk, suck toothpaste tubes, or smear Vicks Vapor Rub all over her face and hands.  Not that those things have happened.

Anyway, because I obviously have a lot of free time, I decided to embark on a new endeavor. I've always fiddled with the notion of contributing in a small way to our family's finances, just to give us a bit of a cushion and some "fun" money.  Since my primary vocation is with the children and home, it would have to be something that would enable me to balance it all, ideally even including the kids at some level. This post is about my decision!

The thought of entering the world of direct sales was intimidating, especially to an introvert like myself. There is no denying, however, the appeal of earning extra money for the family as a homeschool stay-at-home mom! After researching many companies (and with inspiration from my mom), I made the leap and decided on AVON.

Here’s why:

1. Longevity:  Avon has been around for 130 years. That’s right, 130. Beginning in 1886 with door-to-door salesman and amateur perfume maker, David McConnell, Avon has weathered many an economic storm in its history—including the Great Depression. A company won’t survive unless it produces a quality product that people want; Avon has obviously succeeded in those areas to become a beloved and respected industry name.

2. Affordability: This was a huge selling point for me. Living in an area of the country that is struggling with prosperity, I simply could not see asking folks to spend large quantities of money on exorbitantly priced makeup or kitchen items or candles…I would feel guilty and like a scam-artist, frankly. With Avon, most items are comparably-priced to those found at your neighborhood drugstore. To get Avon’s quality at drugstore prices?! I can work with that, and feel confident that my customers are in a win-win situation.

3. Quality: Avon has high-quality products that I am proud to offer.  For example, the Anew Ultimate Supreme Advanced Performance Crème is garnering high praise, outdistancing a similar Lancome product (priced over $300); Avon’s product is only $34.99. Everyone can afford to feel beautiful!  The Avon Skincare Institute is “at the forefront of skin care innovation with state-of-the-art research and development labs spanning five continents, hundreds of scientists, nearly 600 patents, and partnerships with top universities and dermatologists.”

4. Variety: With Avon, there is literally something for everyone. Makeup, skin care, bath products, fragrances, jewelry, and fashion—as you browse the website or the beautiful brochures that are released every two weeks, you will see an array of new and exciting offerings. And of course, the Avon classics like Skin So Soft are always available!

5. Potential: Just like any other endeavor with potential success, you get back what you put in. I am willing to put myself out there and step outside my comfort zone in the hopes of building a profitable business with loyal and satisfied customers. Does this sound appealing to you too? Avon is always looking for new representatives, and with minimal start-up costs (as low as $25) and no inventory needed, it’s a simple way to potentially change your life for the better. Contact me for more information and I’d be happy to help.

6. Responsibility:  Last but not least, Avon calls itself “the company for women” and says it is “beauty with a purpose.” With philanthropic efforts in the crusades against breast cancer and domestic violence, as well as environmental sustainability, Avon is a company that you can feel confident in supporting.

Since Avon's "storefront" is it's catalogs, I don't have to throw parties or find hosts--an exhausting prospect for me! Instead, I have to show people the offerings by getting a catalog in their hands, and then start a conversation. The children help me hang the catalogs on neighborhood front doors, so the whole family can be part of it:)  I even have an eStore so that my friends and family far away (sniff) can shop too!

Anyway, I hope you got a good idea of why I chose direct sales, and more specifically, Avon. If you are considering doing the same, I would encourage you to do your research and get ready to jump in with both feet! 

I will be blogging more, just fyi. I feel like I am emerging from the craziness of baby-survival, and I'm still not pregnant lol. During this (probably short) period of time, I'm trying to get a lot accomplished....perhaps I will even exercise? With a fitbit? Hmmmmm....let me just put down this brownie....

Easy Rule #590: Don't be afraid to try something new, just be prepared to give it 100% effort.
Easy Rule #39: Pack lots of snacks wherever you go.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

FitBit Review

Jules here-

My sister, Betsy, blessed me with a FitBit for my birthday, and I instantly became addicted to the concept.  My fiance's family all have Fitbits and they were thrilled to see that I joined their elitist fitness club.  My first Fitbit was the flex:

It's small, simple in design and linked via bluetooth to my phone so I could see my step progress.  It had a low profile, sleek and a very good transition to wearing something on my wrist (I am not a watch or bracelet fan).  However, the biggest flaw in this generation of Fitbit is the wristband itself... it popped off my wrist while doing errands and I lost it :(  My fiance took pity on me and upgraded me to the Fitbit Charge 2:

At first, I was a little hesitant because it was wider than my flex, but this one had WAY more features including the time and step display as well as heart rate monitoring.  The Charge also clocks how many flights of stairs (some Fitbit flex do as well) and your sleep patterns as well.  As someone who know has owned a Fitbit for a few months, here is my personal and professional review.

The Positives:
  • LOVE getting credit for steps:  As a mom, I am always running around, gathering laundry, herding children, etc.  It's a great perk to my mood when I realize that I got 1500 steps every morning just getting the kids out the door to school!
  • Competition spurs activity: Part of the fun of the Fitbit is befriending people and competing for daily steps-- plus, I naturally like to achieve my own personal daily goals as well.  When seeing how close I am to meeting  a goal, it's easy to motivate myself to go for a walk or jog in place!

  • Encourages "Active" minutes: Because the Charge monitors heart rate, it will tell you how often you have a series of "exercise" minutes-- consistent HR and sustained movement.  
  • Cardio-fitness level- After monitoring your heart rate for a few days, the Charge assesses your fitness level by comparing your max cardio with your baseline or resting HR.  It uses that data to put you on the American Heart Associations cardio fitness scale.
  • Monitoring your sleep: I love and hate this feature-- sometimes it's depressing to see how many times you awaken at night, other times it's awesome to see how quickly you fell and stayed asleep! Great way to watch for habits/cycles.
  • Watching the for trends: I bet this Ultra could be a great tool for some of my patients. For example, I donate blood every couple of months, and I assumed I bounced back quickly. It took 3.5-4 weeks after donation for my HR to drop back to my normal resting heart rate (54 BPM), it stayed at 65-68 BPM after I donated for weeks!! It indicates that I stay MUCH more anemic than I thought....

  • Being a better mom: I really like getting steps in-- which means I don't complain or sigh as much when my kids ask me to tuck them in one more time, or if I have to do one more flight of stairs for a forgotten piece of laundry.  Plus I played WAY more tag and relay races this summer! It changes my perception of movement and activity.
    Walk to the lake? 3,500 steps.
The Negatives:
  •  Competition.....or... Obession?  Betsy and I are particularly competitive and sometimes during our "friendly" challenges we go to the extreme. After I walked 30,000 steps in a day, I wondered if I might take things a bit too far..... my body was a bit exhausted.
  • Sometimes bad parenting. I know, I am contradicting myself, but all things need a balance... I don't sit and read as much and I squeeze in more work-out/walking time.  It sometimes makes me a bit selfish to accomplish my goals. 
  • Unfair guidelines sometimes- I do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) where my heartrate is a great cardio workout, etc.... then after 30 minutes I only get 1,500 steps.  Meanwhile, I can saunter the neighborhood for 30 minutes and get 3,000 steps.... not exactly the best metric for fitness.
  • Walk ridiculously.  How can I hold my grocery cart and still get the steps to count!?!? Seriously. I swing my arm like a maniac narrowly missing innocent shoppers with my haphazard one-handed steering....
  • Worthless steps.  When I forget my Fitbit or if it's charging, exercise/walking seems worthless.... seriously....
    So true

 Sum up: I really do love the Fitbit. It can change your perception of daily chores and your movement levels.  I would spring for the more expensive models that have better clasps and cooler heart rate monitoring features!

Easy Rule #532342- A new fad can be fun and healthy!

Easy Rule #342342- "Friendly" competition doesn't exist for fiercely competitive people. 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Prodigal Blogger

Hi, I’m Jules.
I used to be a blogger.
It has been 4 months since my last posting.
I am sorry.

What, pray tell, are my excuses? Well, here they are:

·        Summer happened.  As soon as the weather was beautiful, my children have a tendency to stay up later, and I have the tendency to be tired after they finally are abed….   We had a FANTASTIC time from swimming at our beach, visiting friends, and of course golf.

·        I got a 2nd degree burn.  Yes, a few days before my birthday in June, I spilled 425 degree oil on my arm.  It melted my flesh and I had to bandage it for almost 2 weeks which limited my typing ability, sleeping patterns, and general abilities in life….  Be warned, the picture is gross….

·        I had a fantastic surprise birthday party!! My daughter, Grace, gathered together a team of friends to throw me a fantastic surprise party! She was thrilled that she pulled it off and I got the most amazing cake and food!!

·        I got ENGAGED!!! I never thought I would re-marry, but God had a different plan for me, and I have never been happier. I will be marrying this December, so wedding plans, and what not :)

·        Fourth of July fun—We always hit up parades, fireworks, and BBQ on the Fourth. Yes, it is one day, and it’s not much of an excuse for not typing, but the pictures are cute :)

·        Traveling to DELAWARE!  This year we did our family reunion at Bethany Beach in Delaware.  It was an amazing time with hot weather, fun games, and great family times.

  •  We also celebrated the Olympics with some themed-food for the opening ceremonies:

    Back to reality. Then school started. I kept saying, “Oh, I’ll post soon.” Or, “I’ll post after the first day of school, etc.”  

·        And finally, I want to admit that I started SEVERAL blog posts, but never finished them, here are their titles:
o   How to Keep Your Kid From Being a Jerk- an OT perspective
o   Updates on My Life- I originally intended this as my Winter Wedding planning blog
o   Hosting a Game Night (I do one once a week)

o   Summer Goals- Now I am just too embarrassed to put that I didn’t meet ANY of the schooling goals I had with the kids….

 Sorry for the delay in posting- I hope we still have readers :) Let me know any topics that you would like to read about!!!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

A Letter to Teachers

Dear Teachers,

I don't envy you. I've worked in the schools this year and I have watched the defiant, unruly children who challenge you. I've seen how your hands are tied- you can barely discipline without a parental complaint or challenge.  Some of these children have never been taught to respect authority, to listen to instructions, or to sit still.  And you are expected to manage those few children along with a classroom of other students.

You also might have a child like my daughter in your class: sweet, quiet, studious, and shy.  She always sits when told, stands quietly in the line, and never disobeys.  You may be overjoyed to have a non-trouble maker in the mix.  Though she has a gentle smile on her face and does as she's told at school, she secretly harbors her anxiety and fear all day.  At night, she comes and curls up next to me and tells  me about her worries, troubles, and problems.  At school, she doesn't cry, complain, or demand attention. She, like so many other "quiet" kids, gets strategically placed between two trouble makers to mitigate the naughtiness.  She has only had a few weeks all year where she sat next to another little girl.

She's not entirely miserable at school: she loves art class, writing, and reading.  She has a couple little friends whom she enjoys as well. She's not perfect either- I know she is forgetful and doesn't always hear the teacher's instructions accurately.  As my parents are teachers, I have been hesitant to be the "helicopter mom" who constantly wants my child to be happy. I have let my daughter struggle and learn; I have challenged her to become more assertive and direct.  Today she came to me and said, "My teacher is tired of me asking questions." My first instinct was to immediately side with the teacher and I asked a litany of questions, "Are you following the directions? Do you listen to her instructions the first time? Are you not paying attention?" 

She agreed she would try to make sure her questions were valid and important; however, the more that I have analyzed the situation, I began to wonder.  My daughter waits until independent work time to approach her teacher; she asks her simple questions such as "Should I use a pen or pencil?" or "Can you tell me the phonics directions again?"  The teacher gets understandably peeved when her "down time" is interrupted by her one quiet kid.  But my kid is the shy one; this is the one time she feels comfortable approaching her teacher. Maybe she is seeking encouragement, wanting to engage in one conversation, or needing reassurance.  Maybe she simply longs for one, positive interaction with the teacher.

My child gets anxious when the teacher reprimands other students, she feels guilt for when her classmates misbehave. She quietly does her work while other students goof off. She never needs to be acknowledged- but maybe she deserves to be once in awhile. Maybe she needs to have her simple questions answered with a smile, a polite word, and a quick conversation.  I know you  may be overwhelmed by the naughty, disrespectful students in your classroom. I don't envy you, but I do implore you not to ignore the good ones. They need you too.



Easy Rule #432423- Sometimes a mother has to be the protective mama bear to ensure your child gets a fair chance.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Power of Prayer

Jules here-
New life motto. An earlier version of "Just Do It"

During this Holy Week, we had ample opportunities to deepen our faith.  Many people chose to rekindle their relationship with God through reconciliation, Mass, and the Stations of the Cross.  However, other people may find this time of year challenging to their beliefs.  So many feel as if their prayers "aren't answered" or that God "isn't listening to me."  Some even wonder why "God needs praise."  Even if you have doubts about God's plan or if God truly listens to you, the power of prayer goes beyond having your pleas answered. Science is just catching up to the idea that prayer does heal and help.... so don't discount the side effects of prayer:

  • Worries Leave Your Mind- As humans, we have a tendency to overthink, analyze, and worry about everything from the weather to illness. When you pray, it gives your mind a chance to release some of your hidden anxieties and stresses.  Even simply speaking your fears and concerns aloud will help your body process and alleviate the burdens of our daily lives.
    One of my favorite Normal Rockwell paintings
  • Insight- As my worries, fears, and anxieties are put into words, I often glean insight into my own inner sanctum. I can discern my true burdens amidst all the clutter in my brain. Also, my children add "intentions" at the end of our prayers and they offer a fascinating insight into their own concerns.  They say anything from, "I pray that my gym class group is nice to me today" to "I hope that Miss Smith's kitty cat is up in heaven now."  I learn about what consumes their minds and I can help them process how to handle certain situations- I can be God's vessel for answering their prayers!
  • Perspective- When I pray, especially with my children, I try to pray for the less fortunate: the terminally ill, lonely elderly, homeless, etc.  After hearing the challenges of others, my piddly worries seem minute and petty.  By putting my fears and anxieties in perspective, I can appreciate what I truly have.
  • Conversations with Mercy- In Catholicism, God is a merciful, benevolent, and kind Father to us. He offers us unconditional love and forgiveness- our prayers can be expressions of our guilt and doubt.  When you pray aloud your sins, you can realize the error of your ways as well as formulate a plan to improve yourself (this works best in the sacrament of Reconciliation).
  • Gratitude- Some prayers are simple thanksgiving- I take a moment to appreciate that all my appliances are working, or my children are healthy, or I was able to juggle all of our activities without losing my mind this week, etc.  When I pause to reflect and appreciate, I focus on the positive, and appreciate even the daily, mundane time with my kids. I revel in the simplicity and happiness! 
    Lake Opechee, basically my backyard one block away-- I am so grateful for my sunsets!
  • Patience- When you pray, you have to wait.  It paces you to reflect more deeply on your fears, anxieties, sins, and appreciations.  You have a moment to crystallize your inner thoughts and ideas- and if you have a well-formed conscience, it can help you make decisions.  Prayer will teach you patience
    I saw this posted on Facebook the day the first house I bought fell through due to failed inspections. I was devastated until I saw that mantra-- and the next day I found my dream home :)
Are you praying for the right reasons? Are you just going through the motions while you bless your food or praying for an ambulance as it goes by? Even if you have doubts- YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE!! Prayer can only help ease your own mind and cease your worrying.  Prayer is simple, can be done anywhere at anytime, and it can bring your family closer together.

And --who knows-- just maybe Someone is listening to your prayers....

Easy Rule #143- Praying for the wrong reasons might end up helping you anyway.

Easy Rule #1231- Leave your worries to God, he stays up all night anyway.