Note: We just hit our fourth anniversary of our first rental property purchase, so I thought I’d record a few real estate-related thoughts for you about how this journey began. Hope you enjoy it!

Another Note: The Kickstarter campaign is still going on and WE NEED YOUR HELP! We have more than $8,000 left to raise in the next two weeks. If you have kiddos in your life or book lovers or both, please please purrrty please consider pledging. This book will not get published if we don’t raise all $10,000! I need you! I love you! Please click here to check it out. Thank you. Amen.

It started with one question: Will you look at a few properties with us?

If I’m remembering the order of events correctly, that question took us three seconds to ask, and sparked the entire creation and process towards creating a cashflowing investment for our family. It was the beginning of our rental real estate journey.

We asked a friend who was scheduled to come into town and had some experience purchasing rental properties if he would drive around town with us to take a look at a few listings, offering any and all insights he felt like sharing.

We didn’t have any financing lined up, nor any clue about how we might go about obtaining it.

Besides some general knowledge gained when purchasing our primary residences, and reading a few real estate books, we had no knowledge about real estate investing of any kind.

We didn’t have a property manager lined up. We didn’t even know if we needed one, or wanted one. I had yet to Google “Kansas City property managers that aren’t terrible.”

I didn’t have my real state license. I hadn’t even considered if I should get my real estate license.

We wanted to get started. So we just…started. We asked one question.

That friend came into town, suggested a few queries to run to look for properties, and we all sat in front of the computer and poked around the multiple listing service.

We didn’t know what we were really looking for. Cheap properties we could renovate! That was about it.

We took a stab at defining cheap. For us, at first, it was single family homes under 50k.

We found a couple dozen properties, wrote down their addresses, and hopped into the car. We drove around looking at the houses from the street. After a solid eight hours in the car, we picked an area of town where a couple of the properties were located that we thought might work, based solely on the level of comfort we felt upon driving through them (searching for such cheap properties will inevitably land you in questionable areas of town) and what was nearby (good schools, big box stores, no distressed areas, etc).

We spent two minutes Googling for area real estate agents that had experience in the part of town we selected, with this price range of properties. We called him. We set up a time the next day to look at several of our top listings together.

We walked through three or four with the real estate agent. We picked the one we thought we wanted. We drove around the immediate neighborhood, saw a few For Rent signs, and called them to inquire about number of beds, baths, and rental price. We did one Craigslist search for listings for the immediate neighborhood, and made calls off of that, too.

Logic told us that the monthly payment on the mortgage, calculated via a free online tool, had to be less than what we would receive in rent, even after setting aside a conservative percentage for fees, repairs, and any unknowns. I think we used 20%.

The property needed a significant remodel first, though, so we needed financing to cover that before it could even be rented. Using our experience in remodeling and our friend’s, we estimated piece by piece what the remodel would cost. Using our comperable rental property research, we estimated what we could get for rent after the home was remodeled.

We calculated and calculated. The numbers seemed to mesh on this property.

We went to a bank asking for financing. They said no. (This was in 2009, one year after the US real estate market came crashing down and loans were nearly impossible to get, especially for anyone saying they wanted to “invest in real estate.” We have awesome timing.)
We went to another bank. They laughed at us.
We went to another bank. They made me cry. (True story.)
We went to another bank. They said, “We would love to work together to make this happen for you!” We jumped up and down and kissed them and hugged them and promised to eventually move all of our personal and business accounts to his bank. (Which we later did. We walked into the old bank one morning and requested they cut checks for the full amounts of all our accounts. They freaked out. We were really popular in that bank for a few minutes, but they eventually cut them. Then we walked out with the checks in my wallet and for the ten minutes it took us to drive back to the new bank, I had the most expensive purse on the planet. That was a fun day.)

We made an offer on the house. We hired a contractor to remodel the house. We did one Google search for local property managers, found one, called them, and hired them. They marketed and rented the property.

And now we have a cashflowing asset. We also improved a home and a neighborhood, turning the worst house on the block into one of the nicest.

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We didn’t know what we were doing. We just did it. We took three seconds to ask one question.

We learned and decided and figured it out as we went. We took action.

One year later, we did it again. It was much easier the second time around, as we didn’t have to ask the question to spark the whole process, nor figure out financing. We had already blazed those trails, we just had to decide to get up off the couch and walk down them again.

Now we have two cashflowing assets. And, as luck would have it, we also have two girls who will be nearing college age in a decade and a half. One house for each. One wholly-owned (by then), rented, professionally-managed income-producing asset each. And that’s just the beginning.

I ran into a great list of quotes on Facebook a couple days ago from Mark Cuban, famous billionaire investor and owner of the Dallas Mavericks. You can find the list here. The quote that struck me the most was this one:

It’s not in the dreaming, it’s in the doing.   - Mark Cuban

 

We recently decided to do it again. Our first house flip is on the horizon! Stay tuned.

Let’s do this,

AS

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A couple months ago, without a ton of planning, we started a remodel of our home office. We packed everything into boxes, moved out all the furniture, and started waging a war against the 30 year-old wallpaper. (We won, by the way. Eventually.) Once the wallpaper was down and we started thinking about sanding the built-in bookshelves and priming the entire space, we realized that it was early September. Meaning, it was still warm outside. It was beautiful outside. Why were we working on an entirely indoor project when we could be working outdoors? We not be so smart sometimes.

So we stopped working on the office. And we moved our efforts to the front yard. We made over our front door and porch, ripped out almost all of the ancient and half-dying landscaping in the front yard, re-leveled everything, brought in dirt and mulch, and made 284 trips to the nursery including one particularly memorable moment with a tree too-awkwardly-sized-for-my-SUV that I willed to fit anyway and made it home with only one small broken branch.

I actually ended up taking that tree back. Ha! Poor widdle tree.

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We also touched up the house paint in a bajillion areas, took down two pitted flag pole holders, put up one freshly painted flag pole holder, removed a dozen mysterious nails and screws that littered the outside walls of the house, and brought in a bench and planter. After six straight weeks working on the outside of the front of our home, it looks amazing. Like, totally rockin. Fresh and clean and purrty.

Our home office, however, looks like an abandon construction site. (Pretty much because it is.) And our dining room! Don’t even get me started. It’s where all of our office boxes are currently located, now in an even bigger state of dissarry because I’ve had to break them open a dozen times in the past three months to locate this piece of paperwork or look up that one book or whathaveyou.

And that’s where I was yesterday evening, as the girls were going through their typical witching hour cycles of fussing for no reason and demanding more snacks even though they just ate and generally just trying to pull my hair out, digging through a box to try and find one piece of paper that I was fairly sure I hadn’t seen since 2009.

What I was trying to find was the acknowledgement from the IRS of the employment identification number they assigned me when I created our corporation five years ago. Amazon Payments needs it so that they can believe me and call me official and not accuse me of making up the EID that I entered into my account. And Kickstarter needs Amazon Payments to be set up in order to submit my children’s book project for consideration. This acknowedgement from the IRS was supposedly in my original incorporation paperwork. Which I know – I know – I never properly organized.

Seriously. It’s stuff like this that I think of when people are like, “What types of things do you do all day while working at home with your two kids?” How do I explain to them that it took me NINETY MINUTES to dig up this one paper that this service needs that this other site needs that I need in order to publish my book?

Anyway. I digress.

(Pretty sure this entire post is one giant digression.)

(First time I’ve ever used that word. Digression. Digression! DIGRESSION.)

(Sorry.)

So I’m digging through this completely organized box and passing over folders with old mortgage documents in them that are right next to bills from the vet from four years ago that are right next to blank printer paper that are saddled up against property tax declaration forms for Hubz’s old truck – as in, the one we sold six years ago – and as I’m digging I come across a small book. We boxed up all of our books when we started the office remodel in boxes by themselves. Book Boxes. This was not supposed to be a Book Box it was supposed to be a Completely Organized Paperwork box, but regardless, there was a book, and I was looking at it. And it was a small phamplet type book with a bergundy cover and it was filled with quotes from Jim Rohn.

Jim Rohn! Love that guy. More accurately, loved that guy. Sniff.

Jim was one of the greatest personal development gurus of all time, and that was before terms like personal development and guru were even cool.

(Heh heh.)

As my older daughter was violently unpacking a large Rubbermaid container of craft supplies and my younger daughter was stuffing a scrap of goldenrod-colored chevron fabric into her mouth, I flip open the book and read the following quote:

“I challenge you to live your life while working to improve your life.”

Isn’t that an awesome and lovely thought?!

That’s all I wanted to share with ya,

AS

 

 

 

 

 

2 comments

There is a lot of weird stuff circulating around the webz lately about Happiness. People preaching about how we must always be striving for it, other people preaching about how it can never truly be captured, and yet others that are sick of the word completely and just moving for the whole “finding happiness” campaign to end already. Stop making a simple little word like happy into such a life-altering big deal! It’s just happy, man.

With that being said, here is my current list of what’s making me happy. Because actually writing lists is one of the many things that makes me happy.

(Huh?)

(Sorry.) Ahem.

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Happiness (whatever the heck that is) is…

Sunshine.

Planting flowers with my daughter, making a huge mess, and not caring.

Dogs lounging on brick patios.

Journaling even when I have a ton of other work to do.

Eye contact.

Thinking about them growing up together.

A new plant.

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Birthday party planning.

Infant gurgles and smiles.

Best girlfriends.

Ignoring my cell phone beeps.

Fitting back into your favorite pants.

Pretending you fit back into your favorite pants.

Not caring that you’re only pretending you fit back into your favorite pants.

Animal crackers.

When the lightbulb goes off and you finally understand that word that your 2 year-old has been repeating ALL MORNING LONG. (Today’s word was “fairies.”)

Worrying obsessively that your infant shoved a leaf into her mouth three hours ago and not being able to find it and then finally – finally – succeeding in fishing it out of her cheek.

Corona Light with a lime.

Weekend guests.

Bows. In hair, on gifts, everywhere.

Changing out the dish towels to the one you own that’s unique to each season. You decorated! Go you! I mean, me. I mean, uhh…

Giggling.

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The realization that today – yes, today! – is the peak of your fall color. Then waking up the next day and realizing that, no, nope, IT’S ACTUALLY TODAY.

Fall leaves.

Trees during the fall.

Pretty foliage on all the plants in all the land right before winter.

Trees with bright red and orange and yellow leaves.

(Sorry.)

Not being ashamed of posting 672 tree photos to your Instagram feed this time of year.

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Sitting with a child without a television, phone, or laptop nearby and just, being.

Brainstorming.

Caramel apples.

Tiny girls with huge heads of hair.

Eating a healthy breakfast.

Eeu de Home Depot.

Hearing your text notification, and seeing a lovely message from a friend you haven’t talked to in a month. Or two. Or twenty. Then replying. Then going back and forth a few times over the course of the morning. And then setting the phone down and being content with that communication. They touched base, you replied, it made you both smile from afar, and that was a satisfactory “touch base” with an old friend. Until next time.

The day your HGTV magazine arrives in the mailbox.

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Candy dishes. In everyone’s home except your own.

Warm coffee.

Bacon.

Drinking black coffee while eating bacon.

That feeling when everyone leaves your home after you entertained at the last minute, didn’t think you could, but did it anyway.

Christmas shopping in October.

Finding a small leaf in your child’s diaper that went “all the way through.”

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Children that think you pretending to eat their feet is the funniest thing on the planet.

Children that are finally old enough to understand, and therefore laugh at, the antics of cartoon characters on television.

Children who repeat phrases you say all the time, suddenly making them hilarious. “Mama! Be CAHWFUHL. You ammost step on LELAH! Watch wheh you going, young wady!”

Grilled pork tenderloin.

Reading the first page of a new book.

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It Just Rained smell.

Finally fixing your iPhone after living with a cracked screen since July.

Long-standing text groups.

 

Cheers and happies to you and yours! Have a great week, all.

Hugs,

AS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 comments

A Day in the Life

October 22, 2014

Monday, October 13th, 2014

6:17am Hear EJ stirring via the monitor, sneak upstairs to grab her, bring her down to the living room, feed her, chug a glass of water, set her up on the living room floor with a few toys.

6:30am Refill my water glass, sit down at the kitchen desk, open laptop, check email and Facebook. Open a Verve.

6:40am Pick EJ back up, change her diaper in our bedroom, snuggle in bed while talking to Hubz, who is getting ready for work.

7:10am Say bye-bye to Hubz, set EJ down in living room again, go back to my computer. Check in on a few Vemma team stats, make a mental note to email two customers I need to get in touch with, check on my monthly auto-delivery because we are out of the protein/energy drink that I’m addicted to and mama’s starting to get cranky without it. It will arrive tomorrow. Thank goodness. Make final edits to a blog post I wrote the day before, hit Publish. EJ is still happily rolling around the living room.

7:40am EJ starts complaining, pick her up, tidy the living room together.

8:00am Feed EJ again, daydream about future blog post ideas and writings while I do so. Grab my phone and jot a couple notes in my Writing Ideas and Snippets file in the Notes app. Addy starts stirring, watch her via the monitor while I journal.

8:15am Take selfies via PhotoBooth with EJ, pour protein cereal for myself, ignore the magnetic pull of the donuts sitting on the counter that are leftover from a Sunday splurge.

8:30am Play on floor with EJ. Addy is still half sleeping – amazing! Continue to ignore the donuts.

8:45am Give in and eat a leftover donut.

9:00am Addy is finally fully awake and yelling, go up and change her, come back down to set her up with cartoons and milk, take EJ up to feed her and put her down for a nap.

9:15am Back downstairs, decide to make cookie dough so that later in the week Addy and I can bake and decorate pumpkin sugar cookies. Make Addy scrambled eggs.

9:45am Finish cookie dough, clean kitchen, turn off Addy’s cartoons.

10:00am Realize I’ve been meaning to do a day in the life post forever. Sit down at computer to record notes about our day so far. :)

10:05am Continue cleaning kitchen – wipe off counters, put dishes away, and load dishwasher. Get distracted by dirty hand mixer and start detailing it. Realize baby monitor has died – crap! – run into bedroom to plug it in – phew – EJ is still sleeping.

10:10am Realize kitchen floor is disgusting, pledge to clean it today. Addy is playing with her play kitchen off the living room.

10:15am Organize pile of never-ending papers and magazines that pile up on one of the kitchen chairs – chuck half into recycle bin, most of them unread.

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10:25am Finish tidying the main floor – good grief we were lazy last night with our chores. Grab step stool and hang a curtain rod that we recently painted. Step back, realize that the curtains are terribly wrinkled. Must be ironed. Ugh. EJ is awake, go upstairs with Addy. Change both girls’ diapers, get both dressed, brush hair. Take two minutes to grab several shirts from Addy’s closet that somehow escaped my large clothes clean out from the week before, chuck them out into the hallway with intentions of carrying them to the attic closet where we store the too-small/too-big clothes. (They remain in a heap in the hall for two days.) Read a few books, play, make funny faces.

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11:10am Back downstairs, throw on some makeup, clean clothes, put hair in a bun. Addy plays with “her” makeup (several pieces of my old stuff) in the mirror while EJ rolls around the bathroom floor collecting hair. Fill up two sippy cups with water, grab a granola bar, shove all three things into my purse. Hunt down Addy’s shoes. Feed EJ. Check weather and realize it’s POURING outside. Momentarily consider not going out. Dismiss idea because a) we already have our shoes on, and b) I don’t feel like being stuck inside all day.

11:38am Out the door. Confirm we have an umbrella in the car.

11:50am Arrive at Costco. Still pouring. Throw EJ’s carseat over my left forearm, hold umbrella with my left hand, purse across my body, Addy on my right hip, drag us all into Costco. Arrive inside the doors, three people are staring at us. Move along, people. MOVE ALONG. Look for my Costco card, can’t find it. Can’t find it ANYWHERE. Begin unpacking my entire purse and setting the items with Addy in the cart, she immediately starts throwing them out onto the ground. Take a breath, back-up, walk into the exit to talk with customer service. Obtain temporary print-out with my member info, walk back into the entrance. Stuff two giant boxes of diapers into the cart. Nibble on popcorn, mango juice, and dried blueberry samples with Addy. Stop to try on a “leather” jacket sitting in a giant pile in the clothing section. Decide it’s cute and throw it into the cart before I even know what I’m doing. Check out, quickly teach Addy how to hold the umbrella, get smacked in the eye after two steps out into the rain when she loses her grip. Make it to the car. I’m soaked, but girls are only sprinkled on. I’ll consider that a success.

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1:05pm Return home. Rain has temporarily slowed, stand at edge of garage with Addy and “catch” some drops. Let the dog run for a few minutes. Carry everything inside, catch a door frame with one of the large diaper boxes and almost lose a lung when it recoils back into me. Swear. Wash my hands, wash Addy’s hands, feed EJ, set Addy up with some homemade granola and some turkey deli meat to round out her lunch. Let the dog out again as she’s whining.

1:15pm Set EJ on the floor with a few toys, give more granola to Addy, warm up red pepper soup on the stove, eat at table with Addy, talk with her while reading a few blogs on my laptop.

1:25pm Take Addy upstairs, change diaper, read a few books, put her down for a nap.

1:35pm Play with EJ on the floor for a few minutes. Check the monitor, Addy’s already asleep, SWEET. EJ rubs her eyes. Change her diaper, pretend to eat her feet. She finds this hilarious. Gobble up her feet 78 more times.

1:45pm Sneak upstairs with EJ, feed her, rock her, lay her in the crib. ASLEEP! Yes.

2:02pm Two sleeping babies! What to do what to do WHAT TO DO?! Put on fuzzy socks, turn up thermostat, text with my mom. Check the backyard, which we recently completely re-seeded, to insure it’s not a soggy mess with all of this rain, looks good, text Hubs about it. Remember leather jacket, grab it, wonder if I only thought it was cute because it was in the middle of a giant warehouse. Try it on. Holy buckets, it’s darling! I just bought a leather coat from Costco. Ha! My 22 year-old self would be apalled. My 33 year-old self is thrilled. Grab hummus to eat with a few pita chips.

2:29pm Record a couple very rough blog post drafts, spend a few minutes actively using social media, place Amazon order (bath accessories for guest room I’m finally decorating), eat some granola, get sucked into Facebook UGH. Stand up from laptop to figure out what to work on next. I get so disoriented when both girls are sleeping and I don’t have a plan. Walk down to basement fridge to grab a Verve.

3:05pm EJ’s awake, run upstairs (fast) to grab her so she doesn’t wake her sister, play on the floor in the living room. Grab iron and my no-sew tape, begin working on a window valance for the guest room. Sing songs to EJ while I’m ironing and trimming. Tidy kitchen, mudroom, living room.

3:45pm Addy’s stirring. Set EJ in her stand-up play center thingy, take out main floor trash, open diaper boxes and distribute to main floor changing station, put remaining on stairs to go up.

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4:00pm Grab sippy cup with water, banana, and EJ, head upstairs. Set Addy up at the reading table in her room with snack and a few books. She eats and reads while EJ rolls around. Read a few books together. Take out Little People toys from her closet to play with. Work a few minutes on guest room decor (This frame here, or over there? Where to put this mirror? How about this bench under the window?) and install the new valance, tidy the girls’ bedrooms and bath, distribute the diapers, play with the dog who came up to join us, try to feed EJ while Addy plays, but the dog and big sis are distracting her.

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5:05pm Daddy appears upstairs, home a little early, surprise! Yay! All head downstairs, briefly discuss dinner plans, I start the prep. Pause to feed EJ, give Addy a(nother) snack.

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5:25pm Change EJ’s diaper, change into her jammies, set her in the stand-up play thing, she looks tired. Hubs types a few emails on his laptop at the kitchen table. Addy plays with magnetic letters on fridge.

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5:50pm Take EJ upstairs, feed her, put her down for the night.

6:00pm Continue dinner prep, Hubz now playing with the letters with Addy, then they move into sunroom to color with markers (ruh roh). I tidy the kitchen, feed the dog.

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6:15pm Hear EJ crying via the monitor, watch her for a while, pop dinner in the oven, prep Hubs on status of everything else dinner-prep-related, go back upstairs.

6:28pm EJ is asleep again. Grab jammies to carry downstairs for Addy. Eat with Hubs and Addy. Get lost reading a few blogs.

6:50pm Start dishwasher, pack leftovers into the fridge, wipe counters, leave the rest of the dishes for later, Addy starts screaming for some unknown reason.

7:05pm Play with Addy in living room giving piggy back rides and having conversations with Daddy about school (which she has the next day). Tidy sunroom, have Addy help pick up her markers and crayons. Change into comfy clothes, find a wooden milk carton, banana, and fish in our bedroom, carry them back to Addy’s play kitchen. Find real pinecones and acorns in her kitchen sink, remember that we put them there, what, four days ago? Five? Contemplate how long it will be until these things start to smell bad. Figure I have at least another week, so I leave them there. EJ’s crying again. Hubz grabs monitor from our bedroom, watches her closely.

7:08pm EJ quiets down on her own. Go girl!

7:15pm Make Addy’s lunch for school tomorrow, show her a couple new things we’re putting in this week. Prep her backpack with diapers and a change of clothes, labeling everything with a Sharpie. She asks for a carrot, I hand her two.

7:25pm Open a beer. Yes.

7:26pm Addy asks for another carrot.

7:30pm Continue cleaning the kitchen (HOW did we make such a mess today??), forget that I opened the beer. Gasp! Stop cleaning. Sip beer. Mmm. Carry beverage into living room where Hubs and Addy are playing. Alaska State Troopers is on in the background. Walk back into kitchen, record a few notes about the afternoon and early evening so my mommybrain doesn’t forget it.

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7:35pm Addy is singing the ABC’s in the living room, ADORABLE. She hasn’t done that before. Grab video camera, sneakily record her singing.

8:00pm Hubz changes her into jammies and diaper, I take her up to brush teeth.

8:10pm Back downstairs, collapse on couch next to Hubz. Eat bowl of kettlecorn we purchased at the children’s farmstead the day before. Hubz falls asleep.

9:30pm Peel myself up from couch, do a final tidy of the entire main floor of the house, minus the dishes, those will wait. Walk into bedroom, realize I never picked up the mess the girls made this morning in there while I was getting ready. Old makeup, “products” from post-pardum, Q-tips, and travel-sized toiletries are everywhere. Awesome. Pick up everything, put away clothes, pick up all my boots that Addy threw about this morning while attempting to climb my shoe rack.

9:45pm Go upstairs to check on the girls, stand there in the dark like a creepster and stare at them for a while. Turn off EJ’s sound machine.

10:00pm Get ready for bed, trim and file my nails, assess the laundry situation: we have a good couple more days before it becomes Urgent.

10:08pm Climb into bed, check weather on phone (it’s STILL raining), scroll through Instagram, respond to a couple emails, avoid Facebook.

10:35pm Lights out.

Phew! That was fun. And also exhausting. I think reading and writing about my day makes it sound even more insane. Thanks for reading, if you made it this far!

A few wins from the day: Both girls were happy and healthy – no sniffles today or time-outs or major tantrums. I actually cooked something for dinner and kept the house pretty tidy. I also made good progress with my current house project of decorating and furnishing the guest suite. A few not-so-great parts of the day: I didn’t get much work done. I sent a couple emails but didn’t make any major moves in my Vemma world or my writing world. I also didn’t get any cleaning done. Lots of tidying, but no cleaning. Also no major exercise today, unless you count the sprint into Costco in the pouring rain. #totallycountingit

Win some, lose some. Every day with flexibility to spend with my family, though, is a win.

Until next time…

Hugs,

AS

 

1 comment

Dear Babygirl 1 & 2

October 9, 2014

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Dear Babygirl 1,

You are more and more sweet to your little sister every day, and for that I am eternally thankful. You touch her hair and give her kisses and tell her it’s going to be okay when she cries. You ask where she is if we ever get in the car without her, and whenever she’s not in the same room with you in the house, you always assume that she’s sleeping.

You call her “Lellah.” Please call her that for the rest of her life, okay? If you start pronouncing her name correctly one of these days, I might cry. That is all.

Love,
Mama

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Dear Babygirl 2,

You are infatuated with your doggie. I’m calling her your doggie and not our doggie because, let’s admit it, she occupies the lowest rung on the totem pole these days and often, sadly, one we get annoyed to even have to claim as our own.

But having you around reminds us just how magical it can be to share a household with a loving canine.

You smile anytime you see her and watch her pace the house like you’re watching the final match of the US Open. Back and forth and back and forth and back and forth with such focus, for as long as she’s within your field of vision. And if you get to actually touch her? Giggles for days.

(When you grow up, you can have her.)

Love the dog but love you more,
Mama

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Dear Babygirl 1 & 2,

Can you grow up faster? Tomorrow would be nice.

Love,
Mama

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Dear Babygirl 1 & 2,

Just kidding about that, by the way. Don’t grow up. Never. Ever ever ever!

If you do decide to, I guess that’s okay with me, just make sure you plan to attend college on our back patio. We’ll build one there. Just for you.

Love,
Mama

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Dear Babygirl 2,

You came home from your first day of preschool a few weeks ago, and out of all the things you said “Yup” to that we asked you directly – Did you sing songs? Did you make friends? Are your teachers nice? Did you play on the playground? Did you read books? – after a few hours, you finally volunteered your one and only tidbit: “I pwayed wif John.”

The following week I inquired with the teacher if there was a boy named John in your class. There was. He is, and I quote, “The cutest boy in the class!”

Of course he his.

Love,
Mama

 

 

 

 

 

2 comments

Guess who’s gonna launch a Kickstarter campaign to help get her children’s book off the ground?

I’ll give you three guesses. :)

I’ve never published a children’s book before. I know very little about Kickstarter other than some cool people have done some cool things with it. I’ve never created a video before that didn’t involve me simply sitting in front of a camera, pushing record, and talking in one big long take.

But I’m gonna do this thing anyway.

I have now used the word gonna twice in this post already. Maybe I should start over?

Ahem.

Hubs suggested a few months ago that I consider using Kickstarter to cover the funds to get my children’s book illustrated and published, and I promptly ignored him.

I wrote the book over a year ago, edited it several times, and hired a self publishing consultant that was amazing in teaching me all about ISBN’s (the “serial numbers” that all books are assigned) and self publishing websites and book sizes and fonts and color schemes, and a million other tiny details that are involved in publishing a book that I didn’t know and didn’t really care to become an expert on. Together we defined a ton of details about the book (paperback, 5″ by 8″, secondary colors, etc) and requested samples from half a dozen illustrators. I selected an illustrator and then…did nothing. I had done as much work as I could before having to really fork over the bulk of the cost in producing the book, and we were moving and remodeling and expecting our second child, and when is it ever really convenient to lay down several thousand dollars to illustrate and publish your little pet project of a book, you know? It’s not that we technically couldn’t afford it, I just couldn’t get myself to pull the trigger.

Anyway, in a (I’d like to think, rare) moment of complaining last month about never getting this book published, Hubs mentioned Kickstarter again and asked why I hadn’t really considered it. My answer was that…I didn’t have an answer.

Why hadn’t I really considered it?

So I was all, “Uhhh” and “Hmmm” and “Well, you see…” and he was all, “Yup, that’s what I thought, let’s do it.” and I was like, “Yeah, okay.”

And then there was this long pause. I looked at Hubs and he looked at me. And then I looked back at him and he looked back at me. And then I sighed and was all, “Okay, fine, I’ll say it: You were right. I should have considered Kickstarter when you first mentioned it ages ago. Happy?” And then he simply smiled and walked away.

I kinda like that guy.

So I guess what I’m saying is, I’ve been delaying progress on my children’s book for more than half a year for no real reason, and two weeks ago I finally decided to take Hubs’s idea seriously and kick things into high gear with Kickstarter. (Kick into gear with Kickstarter. Like what I did there?)

Last week I reached out to a local videographer to assist in the production of the video I will use for the campaign and did a bundle of research on how to (and how not to) use the Kickstarter platform.

A few days later I met with the video guy and we began planning my video.

This week I sent him the latest version of my book in text form, along with my draft of the script for the video. We’ll be recording soon!

I’ve never done any of this before, but we’re just gonna rip off that Band-Aid and go for it. So I guess this is just my little note to all 79 of you readers to say…thank you! I can’t wait to share this journey with you. I’m sure the road to a finished, published book will jostle us around a little bit, but it will be worth it in the end.

And, hopefully, this first project for my silly little children’s book will be the first of many. I have notebooks filled with ideas and outlines and text snippets of possible books. It’s about time I get a’workin’ on those. The first one will be the hardest, so it’s time to just do it already.

Stay tuned for more! And thank you thank you thank you for being here!

(Anyone have any Kickstarter tips? Experiences? Success stories? Horror stories?)

In book geekery,

AS

 

4 comments

I was reading a book intro the other today about webinars (one of the most powerful marketing tools ever), and it got me thinking about what knowledge I have. I was reading about Lewis Howes, specifically, and how he spent one year immersing himself into LinkedIn, became so knowledgeable about the platform that he became known as the LinkedIn King, and then went on to host free webinars where he taught people how to use it. At the end of the webinars he would pitch the audience a more in-depth, advanced course on the subject, and that’s how his business made money.

I read this and thought, how cool! How cool…for him. I don’t have any knowledge like that to teach someone. I’m not an expert on anything!

Then my next thought was, well that can’t be true, surely I have SOMEthing of value to offer people. And maybe even something of value that people would be willing to pay for.

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So I started brainstorming. I wrote down every tidbit of knowledge that I had. Most of them are nowhere near expert level, but if I was able to answer “probably” to the “Do I have more knowledge about this subject than the average person?” question, I included it in the list.

- how to build a network marketing business
- how NOT to build a network marketing business
- how to build a freelance writing career
- how to write every day
- how to be an efficient, fun, and productive mommy
- how to write a children’s book
- how to fit working out into your busy day with kids and work
- how to invest in real estate (for women)
- book recommendations: best books to read for mommies/entrepreneurs/etc, book reviews of recent bestsellers, what’s out there right now, etc

I just wrote this list out a couple days ago, so I have yet to make a plan of attack for how I’m going to make this happen, or if I even am, (I’ll work on it in my free time, ha!) but I did want to share it with you. I thought the exercise of writing out what knowledge I have that’s even just a smidge more than the average person was incredibly eye-opening. We don’t have to be smarter than the smartest experts in order to teach something! We simply have to possess a little knowledge, enough that someone else out there might be able to learn from. And then we have to be willing to go out there and teach it.

It’s a cool thought, right? This could lead in all sorts of interesting and profitable and exciting directions. Part-time teaching in school, volunteering to teach at places like libraries or homeless shelters or museums. Writing e-books or hosting online classes.

Think beyond an instructor standing in front of a room of students sitting at desks. Teaching happens in our homes, in our backyards, in our sporting events, in our communities. It can happen online, it can happen in books. It can happen with videos or words or pictures.

I bet if you break down most successful businesses, they all come back around to teaching someone something. Don’t you think?

What could you teach? Where do you think you could go with that knowledge?

Food for thought for your day!

Let’s go teach something,

AS

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