Our Boston Babymoon

A little known fact about me– I LOVE to travel! I grew up in a family that liked to spend time, money and energy into various trips, despite the fact that we lived in CA (which means that there’s not a lot that’s central to it!). Besides the frequent trips to SoCal to see my grandparents or Minnesota to see other relatives, my first memory of a cross-country trip was in Kindergarten, where we spent a few weeks in Florida, visiting Disney world. Another time, we did a multi-week road trip caravan with two families who were close to us and saw many National Parks and historical landmarks. And then a few years later we all went for a few weeks to vacation in Georgia and the Carolinas.

And then in college, I managed to visit Europe not once, but TWICE. My university had a program where I could substitute 4 units in exchange for spending 3 weeks in Europe for roughly the same price– so, naturally, I begged my parents and they graciously decided to support me. I got to see Greece, Italy, the Mediterranean islands, England, Scotland and France!

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“Hugging” the tower of Pisa– something every tourist has gotta do, right??

So, naturally, when Jesse and I started dating, high up on my list of “compatibility questions” was whether or not he liked to travel as much as I did 😉 Turns out, he did! My family even put him to the test early on in our dating relationship by taking him on a family “just for fun” vacation to New York and Washington D.C.

Jesse and I, riding the NYC subway on our way to a Broadway play.

Jesse and I, riding the NYC subway in 2003 on our way to a Broadway play.

For our honeymoon, Jesse planned and paid for us to go to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for 2 weeks!

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And then who can forget our infamous trip WITH SMALL KIDS all the way to South Africa last December for my brother’s wedding?

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So, when our 10 Year Anniversary rolled around, we knew that traveling was on the short list of things we wanted to do together. Unfortunately, August is a REALLY busy month for teachers, so we celebrated our actual anniversary with our getaway to Las Colinas, but set aside time in October for a longer trip.

Originally, we had wondered if we could ever possibly make it back to Rio for our 10 year, but then the Zika virus happened, and we decided (decided?) to have our third baby. As our 10th anniversary drew closer and closer, we realized the list of vacation possibilities was rather small. Anything south of the US (where all the good Groupon deals were!) was at risk for Zika. Anything in TX was going to be too hot or involve hot springs, wine tasting, river rafting or horseback riding– all “perfect” for pregnancy, am I right? 😉 Colorado is within driving distance, but we worried about elevation and blood pressure, since I’m not used to it.

And then, a tragedy/mishap struck. On our way back from our trip to CA (where I said goodbye to my childhood home and helped my parents with their move to Dallas), the airline we used BROKE my nice Britax carseats to smithereens, despite the fact that we checked them at the gate. We actually tried to take them on the plane since they were FAA compatible and I had purchased seats for each of the boys, but they TOOK THEM from me as we were boarding. And then gave them back at the end of the flight…completely unusable (I think one half of one of the carseats was left on the plane somewhere– they were THAT broken!).

After a lengthy process, I not only received a $450 check from the airline to replace my carseats, but they also sent me a travel voucher. Although I was terribly upset with the airline for how they handled everything, a small part of me was curious about various flight prices during October, so I checked into what it would cost to fly to Boston to see my brother who works at MIT and lives in Providence, RI with his new wife Megan. The flights were $50 each way…unbeatable!! Add my voucher to that, and we bought the tickets on the spot. We didn’t even have babysitting yet, haha 😉

So that’s the story of how we wound up on a 3 day/2 night quick excursion to Boston! The boys stayed with my parents in Dallas, and we brought just two small backpacks with us on board.

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We arrived in Boston around lunchtime, and immediately took public transportation to the historic North End to get most of our history nerd on, right away.

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The oldest tavern in the US!

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Paul Revere’s house!

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31 weeks pregnant– good idea to walk 6 miles a day? In retrospect, not so much ;)

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It was just a beautiful beautiful Fall day– 65 and sunny, with a light breeze. All the leaves were changing, and it just SMELLED like Fall! Add that to the fact that the North End is known for some of the best Italian food in the US, with cute coffee shops tucked in everywhere (I ate SO MUCH great gluten free food!! Apple spiced donuts!!), and we were having a great time. We kept having to remind ourselves that it gets below 0 degrees and really cold to convince ourselves not to move there immediately (oh, that and the fact that the housing prices rival NYC).

In the evening, we walked down from the North End through Beacon Hill and Back Bay, two of the nicest parts of Boston (where many celebrities live). It’s no wonder–it was gorgeous! Boston Commons, the big park, is nicer than Central Park in NYC, in my opinion!

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Turns out, my feet were KILLING me by this point– my shoes which normally fit great (some of my most comfortable Clark boots!) were not made to accommodate swollen pregnancy ankles, haha! So, after a great dinner at a bar and grill (again, with amazing gluten free options! Seriously, Boston, well done!) we stopped by a store and bought me some Nikes. I started crying the moment I put them on– I was so grateful for the relief!!

Our cute historic hotel was right near Fenway park, which was appropriate since we were racing back to the hotel room for Jesse to watch the Dodger’s playoff game.

The next day, we checked out of our room and walked to the Starbucks nearby for breakfast and hot coffee. We then walked all around Fenway Park before heading down the street to see Boston University. Another quick thing about us– we are obsessed with visiting college campuses! 😉

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We walked across the river to MIT where we briefly met up with my brother, then continued walking through Cambridge towards Harvard, where we saw some of their illuminated manuscripts in the old library.

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After some more sight-seeing and coffee shop finding, we took the train all the way out to Providence, RI where my brother and his wife picked us up for dinner.

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We stayed overnight at their new house that they had just bought, before leaving on a plane back to Dallas the following afternoon! It was a quick but wonderful trip, and we were so happy to be able to spend some adventurous time together before Baby #3 makes his appearance in a few weeks 🙂

 

My Honest and Brutal Opinion of Network Marketing

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Ya’ll, this is one of the scariest posts I’ve ever had to write, which is because it’s really near and dear to my heart.

Standing next to me is my new co-worker, Christie, who flew all the way out from Denver, CO to see me this last weekend. Why? Because, 2.5 months after asking me to take a leap of faith, quit my online teaching job and join her in her Young Living Business, I’ve hit the rank of SILVER. For most of you, that title means nothing, and it shouldn’t. After all, it’s just a title, when all is said and done.

But what it means for our family is what matters. It means that in just 2.5 months of hard work, I am now making close to what Jesse did as a Fulltime teacher back in CA. It means that monthly, I will be able to pay for our after school activities, groceries, and even write a check with three zeroes on the end of it towards our student loan debt. It means that we will never need to put our kids in childcare in order for me to work. It means that someday quite soon, we will have all of our student loan debt gone. It means that for the first time, I am no longer terrified about maternity leave and what that will mean for our finances (for both of my other babies, I was back at work within 10 days of giving birth since we could not afford for me to miss a paycheck. Yikes.).

Let me be clear about something– this is not a post intended to sell you anything tangible. Ideas, maybe. Compassion, perhaps. Self-reflection, definitely. But it is not a mass spam letter to get you to “join my team”. That’s not how I work– anyone on our team can tell you that. 😉 Those who are meant to work with us will be led of their own volition, that, I am sure of.

In fact, this is the first time EVER that I have posted about my business on my personal page. This was intentional, because I know the stigma that surrounds MLMs. But I could not be silent about this, the way my God, OUR God, is blessing our family and the 90 (did I just type that?? NINETY!) other families who have joined me since July. (Update: in just the three weeks since writing this post, our team has added 43 additional members for a total of 133!! I can’t believe it!)

If I’m not asking you to “join” or buy something, what am I asking for?

Let me start with my fellow MLM peeps:

Please hear this with all the loving graciousness and affection in the world. I am one of you, but I am also not one of you. I am asking that you evaluate your marketing techniques and be honest about whether they are working. Spend some time in prayer and reflection, and ask your friends for honest feedback about whether they have ever felt bombarded, or if they’ve experienced the tragedy of feeling like just another sale. Perhaps you’ll find that they’ve even un-friended or un-followed you on Facebook. I’ve had three people this week alone say to my face that the only reason they were giving me and my product the time of day was because I’d never abused their friendship in this way. If you still want to post on your blog or your personal FB page (business pages are a different matter), please, for the love of all that is good, follow the 90/10 rule. Your friends care about your life first, and, if you’re blessed, your business second. They would rather unfollow you and boycott your product than get so bitter that they can no longer love you.

Study and hone your craft, because that’s what this business is! I’d love to give you our team’s reading list that would be applicable to many different companies. Train yourself. It will take unpaid hours and hours, yes. But it’s an investment in yourself and your business. And if it really feels like a lot of money and time, I can guarantee it’s a lot less than the four year degree or certification required to get most other jobs. We shouldn’t expect to succeed or have anyone take us seriously if we do not take our own business seriously enough to invest some serious time and effort into it. Don’t copy and paste your company’s graphics and promo ads– make your own with a $3 app. Buy your own web page for less than $10/month. Discover Instagram, take a class on effective Instagram marketing, and discover hashtags (aka, a WARM market, where people are actively searching for what you have to sell!). Don’t look for one or two rich people to be your “magic lottery ticket” to success– be prepared to work hard. Anyone who tells you that it’s easy is lying and you should RUN the other way. Don’t just find a product that you like– find a team that has been there, done that, and can get you to where you want to go. You should be able to have direct access (meaning– a phone call away) from someone who already has the title and rank you want. If they are “just a story” that you know through a friend of a friend of a friend, but you still really love the company or product, at least find another team because otherwise, it’s the blind leading the blind. Really. You will thank me. I can’t tell you how many girls have reached out to me who have been abandoned by their well meaning friend or sister that they signed up with out of obligation who no longer does the business, but now they’re stuck. It’s not fun.

And please, PLEASE– do your research about the company you joined or are planning on joining. Look up their rating on BBB. Do they have a “three month deadline” before they strip your discount? Ask yourself why. Do they have a sales quota? Ask yourself why. How long has the company been in business? Newer companies will sell themselves as “the next exciting thing” and tell you to jump in on the ground level, but when I was researching, longevity mattered since I wanted stability (I knew from the start that I wanted my income to support my family– I didn’t want a risk with high reward, I wanted a sure bet with a high reward) . Read the fine print about the ratio of sellers to product users. Are people using the product just because they sell it and need their own testimony? Or are they loyal product users, regardless of whether they sell? If you can’t believe in your own company, deep down, no one else will. And you won’t like who you are, at the end of the day.

To everyone else:
I am asking you to be kind to the next direct sales person who comes “knocking” at your door. If you want them to deal politely with you and treat you as a friend would, demonstrate the same. Don’t ignore them, shut them out or unfriend them, even if they deserve it 😉 . Tell them gently but honestly if their marketing strategies are really turning you off, and walk with them as they use that feedback to GROW and succeed. Encourage them whenever possible, because direct sales is a business made of lonely stretches and hard nights of self doubt and self loathing. Most direct sales people never make it past the all too common 3 month honeymoon period for this very reason, which is a shame considering most of the ones brave enough to try it are the ones who could really really use the money and financial freedom.

And, whenever possible, support their business. Americans love anonymity and that sense of control, which is why online shopping is so huge. However, when you buy the same product from Amazon or Target or Costco instead of from a friend, you haven’t avoided paying someone commission– you’ve simply given it to a stranger somewhere at a corporate office, instead of investing in your friend who is working their tail off. When you buy from your friend, you are also paying to support some 5 year old’s soccer team, some 4 year old’s ballet lessons, or some family’s crippling student loan debt. You aren’t being “sold”– you’re telling your friend that you believe in him or her. Yes, it’s the opposite of anonymous online shopping, it’s actually a little thing called community (sometimes called “shopping local”) that as a society, we’ve stopped caring much about. If you feel like boycotting your friend just for trying to make money from home, because you are looking down on it as a “lesser” occupation, or because they didn’t follow the career path that you did, it might be time to examine your own bias, pride and motivations (and, to be consistent, start boycotting every company that ever sends an ad your way! Make a list of everything on your Facebook side bar, for starters!). You will never know the ins and outs of someone’s private circumstances and why they’ve been unable to find work elsewhere, or what convictions led them to decide that a traditional 9 to 5 was not the right move for their family.

Network Marketing, Direct Sales, Multi-level Marketing– whatever you want to call it– is not going away. (Side note: “Pyramid Schemes” are illegal and do not exist for long, believe me, so do not proceed in ignorance and slap this label on your friend’s company).  It used to be the case that getting a college degree guaranteed steady work and benefits SOMEWHERE. But the economy has changed. Job security of the employer variety no longer exists the way it did. Just ask any teacher and they will give you horror story after horror story of being let go at the last minute, or kept on as part time in order to be denied benefits in these tough economic times. Network Marketing is here to stay, so learn how to love, tolerate, and provide feedback to those of us who have chosen a way out of the rat race.

I’m going to come full circle and finish with talking about what a blessing these girls on my team have been to my life these past few months. Christie, this mom of 2 standing next to me, started the business in May and now makes an average NURSE’s salary– consistently over $5,000/month. She and her husband are missionaries in CO, and are now able to minimize the dire need for financial donations and pledges to support their family. I feel so blessed to know that every PENNY I put into my business also goes to support their labor of love in reaching others for the gospel. Can I say that about when I spend money at Target? Walmart? Amazon?

And to the girls on my team, who I talk to day in and out– I am so humbled and grateful and moved to tears by all of you. Your hard work and caring spirits have provided me with a sisterhood, something that is rare in “stay at home mom” land 😉 What other job exists where I get to HAND PICK the people I want to be working with, day in and out? I will never be worthy of you all, and I mean that!

10th Anniversary Getaway

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It’s so hard to believe that it’s already been 10 years of marriage for Jesse and I! The actual date isn’t for another 12 days, but we decided to celebrate a few weeks early since he’s a teacher and school is about to start.

Given that this third pregnancy has been so rough and what we REALLY wanted was to relax and spend time together, we decided to spend two days for our anniversary getaway in Las Colinas, a cute area of Irving about 20 minutes outside of Dallas. We left the boys with my parents (SO NICE to have my parents nearby now!!!) and slowly meandered towards Irving, getting some iced coffee and fro-yo on the way.

The funny thing about Las Colinas, is that we were just down the road from where we FIRST lived when we moved to the DFW area, nine years ago! Irving will always have a special place in our hearts, and it felt deeply comfortable and nostalgic to come back here.

The view from our hotel room!!

The view from our hotel room!!

We stayed at the Omni Hotel on Lake Carolyn, near the Mandalay Canals. After an amazing Italian dinner at Trevi’s downstairs (they had gluten free pasta and bread!!!), we walked around and had a midnight swim.

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The front desk had this complimentary dessert sent up to our room! I ate all the fruit, since chocolate and gluten would basically kill me ;)

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The restaurant also gave us a complimentary tapioca and fruit dessert! Unfortunately, they had the number wrong ;)

The next day, we grabbed Peets coffee in the lounge and did a lot of sight-seeing around the canals, before finishing up with an amazing breakfast down the road at Le Peep. This area of Las Colinas is so adorable! I could take pictures here all day!

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We had a wonderful time and will always look back on this year as our favorite anniversary! We will also be traveling to Boston to see my brother in a few months, so stay tuned for anniversary date part 2!

It’s A…

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Two weeks ago, we headed in for the 20 week anatomy/gender scan at my midwife/OB’s office.

Within 30 seconds, before Jesse had even realized we’d begun, there HE was! Very definitively, a boy was staring down at us. He was so wiggly and squirmy!! Hands and legs were flying EVERYWHERE  (which definitely correlates with what I’ve been feeling at all hours of the day since a Week 14!).

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Our baby boy was as healthy as can be, even measuring close to a week ahead of schedule. We are still praying for a close to due date birth, however, since Jesse gets out of teaching school for Christmas break just a few days prior. An early birth would make things a bit complicated! Both of my other boys were right on time, but this one has already been such a wild card, so who knows?

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Many people have asked if I am sad, since I really wanted a girl and this has already been such a tough pregnancy. Funny enough, just days prior to this ultrasound I was rotating the boys’ seasonal clothing and putting into storage all the ones that no longer fit. I suddenly became extremely sad, wondering if I would ever have another little boy to put in them! I knew that if this was a girl, I would have a hard time convincing myself to have any more (biologically, that is. We still plan on adopting).

And it’s pretty hard to wish that someone you’re meeting could be someone else. What I mean is, once I saw that little guy up on the screen, to wish him a girl seemed as ludicrous as wishing G or AJ were a girl. There HE was. Perfect. Why would I wish any different?

I do not relish the thought of an eventual 4th pregnancy, given how poorly my body seems to be handling this one. But I do hope that the rest goes smoothly. In the future, I would hope that I could get on the Zofran the second I get that positive test, and avoid the “snowball effect” of other health issues I encountered that first trimester. image

For now, I am relishing the idea of being a Boy Mom. We have so much fun together! We are a packed house, full of Legos, transformers, running around, laughter, robot noises, and teepee-book-reading. My boys bring so many joyful moments to me day in and out, and I look forward to adding another sweet boy to our mix.

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