When I was 12(ish) years old, I started babysitting for the kids in my neighborhood. I would always pack a small backpack full of a couple toys and some crayons and activities, and when I would arrive I would let the kids pick something out to keep. I also used to tidy up the main floor of the house, if I was still sitting after the kids went to bed. My tidying methods, which I still use today and that drive my husband crazy, don’t necessarily involve putting away or organizing, simply putting like things into piles so that the visual clutter is reduced. Looking back, I’m sure this drove the parents whose kids I was sitting for completely crazy. One time I let in another neighborhood kid that I wasn’t in charge of watching into the house, he tromped mud and tar all over the carpet, and I couldn’t get the stains out for the life of me. There were cartoon-looking footprints everywhere. I told the kids not to say anything when their parents got home, in hopes that I could run away before they saw it, but they told them anyway. During the two minute chaperoned walk home all I could think of was what I was going to tell my parents when the mom of the kids I was sitting for yelled at me, never called me again, didn’t pay me, etc. She paid me anyway (8 whole bucks!) and was incredibly kind about the situation. I think I told my parents a few years later. By the way, almost 20 years later, that mom is now a grandmother and has gifted me some of the most thoughtful gifts when my children were born.

When I was 14 I got my first real job at a high-end party supply store. I could only work on Saturdays, and most weekends I had to attend concerts for a jazz band that I was a part of in middle school. #geek The store had so many things that weren’t directly labeled with price tags (individual sheets of paper, balloons, etc) that I felt like I could never do anything without help. Also, I’m pretty sure I hung up on 89% of all the customers who called while I was working, as the phone was really complicated and I was expected to answer it but never taught how to use it. They had chocolate covered Little Debbie delicious something-or-others in the break room. I had to wear “fancy” clothes, and I barely had any, so dressing for each shift was a huge pain in my tomboy a$$. I remember my shoes always hurting my feet. After a few months of barely being scheduled and turning down half of the days I actually was scheduled because of the concerts, the manager told me she was just going to stop scheduling me all together. I walked out, realized I was essentially fired, and burst into tears. I didn’t care about losing the job – I never liked it – but the fact that I was fired from something (aka. I failed!) completely humiliated me.

When I was 16 I started working at a dry cleaners. I rocked at that job. Everything was stored in a computer, my brain meshed well with computers, and I prided myself on finding the shirts that were “lost” that were really filed under the last name Baxton instead of Paxton. Troubleshooting was my thang. I helped the customers drop-off and pick-up, sorted the clothes, entered the orders into the computer, helped close, and had a blast with the handful of other teenagers who also worked there. There was a local bakery in the same strip mall, and we would often walk over to pick up the $1 day old panini loaves and down them by the chunkful. A classmate who worked there introduced me to salt and vinegar chips, one of my loves to this day. We would eat them until the insides of our cheeks were sore. There was an older gentleman that worked there who had such bad breath, we called him Hal, as in halitosis. He had no idea what it meant, and thought it was cute that all the “kids” had a special name for him. I have no idea what his real name was. There was one customer whose face looked so much like a cartoon character (long shape, huge curved nose, wide eyes) that we would see him coming and immediately play the “not it” game. Whichever one of us was still in the front of the store last, had to help him. He was always very nice, but we were afraid that our fits of giggles wouldn’t go over well with him, so we ran to the back to hide and muffle them with our hands. I thought it was super fancy when some customers would request their dress shirts to be folded and boxed instead of hung up. I imagined them going on fancy trips and packing those perfectly pressed and folded shirts into steamer trunks and hotel dressers. My parents still get their dry cleaning done at that location.

The first summer home from college I worked at the daycare incorporated into the local school district. I sat around all summer with elementary-aged kids, playing with them on the playground, playing card games like 3-to-13 and gin rummy with them, and microwaving industrial-sized cookie sheets of french toast sticks (eww) for their breakfasts. Those were the days I always dreaded having clean-up duty. Maple syrup is a bitch to get off of lunchroom tables. There was one girl there who was one year older than I was, married, and with two kids. I did the “age comparison” thing all summer long, and it freaked me out to think about all of the “old person” things she had already done at my age. There were two rowdy but fun ten year-old boys at the daycare all summer whose parents were both divorced, and halfway through the summer we found out that the mom of one and the dad of the other were dating. I thought that was so scandalous.

The next summer I couldn’t find a part time job to save my life, so I spent the first three weeks of summer vacation sitting on the couch in the house I was sub-leasing in Iowa City, eating Chex Mix, applying one or two places, and telling myself I was sooo busy. I finally did get a job in the accounts receivables department of the university. The building was one of those government-looking buildings that was several stories tall but oddly had no windows, just brick all the way up. I worked with a gal who found it fascinating how quickly I learned how to file things and update her very basic Excel spreadsheets. She had photos on the wall of a baby, and all summer I assumed it was hers until one day she mentioned a granddaughter. We had celebrated her 39th birthday in the office just one week earlier. A 39 year-old grandma! I thought that was scandalous too. I told the manager who hired me that I would *totally* continue working past the summer, when I knew full well that I didn’t plan to. I kept the job a few weeks into the fall semester, then quit.

The next summer I had an internship in the technology department of a construction management company. I worked with two other young guys and the three of us made up the entire IT department, if I remember correctly. The employees would bring us their broken computers, we would push two buttons, get it working again, and giggle when they would walk away in amazement. We also regularly set-up new computers for all of the employees, and I helped create a system for recording all of the settings and software installs that we would define on every new machine. I had to log a timesheet every week and remember being amazed, while also feeling bad, that I had logged a couple hours over 40 one week and they paid me time and a half of my hourly rate for that smidge of extra time. One guy I worked with had a last name of Snow. I thought that was cool. An older gentleman we worked with had a wife and daughter that he openly complained about all the time. I thought that was so not cool. One of the guys in the department was engaged and I remember thinking how nice he was for making wedding-plan related phone calls on his lunch break. He would have sticky notes on his desk like “Call DJ” and “Ask cake lady about the flowers.” That guy turned out to be the brother in law of someone I later worked with at an entirely different company in an entirely different city five years later. I still see the construction signs from this firm around the midwest and smile. They offered me a full-time position after the internship was over, I told them I would let them know as the semester progressed, and eventually turned them down when I received an offer for the company I worked for in Kansas City. Having that position to fall back on, though, did allow me to be pickier with my interviewing my senior year in college. And by pickier I really mean lazier.

Before the end of the fall semester of my senior year, I received a formal job offer from the company in Kansas City. I accepted without even thinking about googling job negotitation strategies. The lady who called said that I would receive some paperwork soon, and that I should sign and return it. The door bell to my apartment rang not even five minutes later. I thought she was magic. Overnight delivery apparently wasn’t something I was very knowledgeable about at that point. I called everyone I knew from the bedroom in my apartment and no one answered. Not my mom, not my dad, not my sister, not any of my currently MIA roommates. The carpet in my room was blue, and I laid on my bed and stared down at the company paperwork that was laying on top of it until one of my roommates finally arrived home and I was able to share the good news with someone in person. I did less studying and more partying the spring semester than I ever had before. I showed up to a final or a midterm, I don’t remember, of one class I needed to graduate and a good friend was sitting there, waiting to take the test. “I didn’t know you were in this class!” I exclaimed without thinking. “Ann, you’ve skipped every session, how would you know I was in this class?” Ha. Touche. I got an A in that class thanks to notes from my then-boyfriend’s fraternity on past classes and a professor that was keen on repeating the exact same lectures and exams.

I started my corporate job in July of 2003, just two months after I graduated college, and was there until January 2010 when I ditched the cubicle in order to work from home doing the small businesses that I had been doing on the side for several years. While there, I worked in customer service support and troubleshooting – a job that was not what I was originally offered, but I didn’t have a choice in the matter – followed by several years in engineering working on software design and requirements. The software design role had me doing a lot more writing than I ever expected. And we all know where that led…

This morning, as I was pouring cereal into a bowl for one daughter and holding the other as she spit up on the floor, I had a random thought: who says normal lives aren’t interesting? I’ve often read about the lives of others – in books, in magazines, in my Facebook feed – and thought, “Sheesh, my life is so boring compared to theirs!”

But then you start typing a few things out, remembering fascinating details, and your life doesn’t seem as ho hum as you thought.

If you’re still with me, that was just 2000+ words to say: You’re an interesting person with all sorts of weird and wacky and wonderful experiences! Even if you think you’re not.

Hugs to that,



June is behind us. July is here. It’s halftime! A few fun and silly thoughts on the second half of the year as we huddle in the locker room:

A bad habit I’m going to break: watching television during the final hour of my day instead of reading. Also: leaving dirty dishes in the sink overnight. Ugh.

A good habit I’m going to continue: daily networking.

A new skill I’d like to learn: furniture refinishing.

A person I hope to be more like: my Grandma – she reads every day habitually and eats real food. She also naps every afternoon. *swoon*

A good deed I’m going to do: commit to regular volunteering again


A place I’d like to visit: South Carolina.

A book I’d like to read: Gone with the Wind (I KNOW).

A letter I’m going to write: thoughts for my Dad on his retirement.

A new food I’d like to try: tea – I want to venture beyond restaurant-grade iced with lemon.

I’m going to do better at: consistency – with everything.

A crazy goal I’m going to go after: editing the novel I wrote during NaNoWriMo 2012. (Shaking in my boots.)

Your turn! What silly habit will you break? Where do you want to visit? What skill will you learn?

This is gonna be fun.


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Last week the girls and I went to Costco.

Wasn’t that a great story? Ha! You’re welcome.


After we sort of not really ignored the deliciousness in the front aisles like the chocolatey granola bars and the sea salt pita chips and those dark chocolate covered acai berries that taste like heaven, and after we successfully made it through the side aisles full of the vats of olive oil and ketchup and the freezer section (organic frozen beef burritos! Amen.) and swung past the meat section and ohh’d and ahh’d over the six pound packages of blueberry muffins that are the size of my head in the bakery, we threw away our now empty sample cups of white cheddar cheese popcorn and headed up the main aisle towards the check-out.

And then we saw it: the book section.

Why do I *always* forget about the lovely book section at Costco? It’s like a pleasant little surprise icing upon the confetti cake that is a trip to Costco.

So I did what any good book geek would do: I ignored my whining children, whipped out my phone, and took photos.

Walk with me!


How cute is this collection of most (all?) of Roald Dahl’s work? I owned a few of these as a kid, but what a fun gift. I kind of want to read them all again. I love how this set is filled with the super popular Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory titles, along with lesser known reads like The Twits and Fantastic Mr Fox. Seeing this made me smile.


Ohh, Jeannette Wells has another book out! Who else read one of her first and most popular books (and also a memoir), The Glass Castle? I still think about that book years later. (Lard sandwiches! Omg.) Her second book, Half Broke Horses, has been on my list for ages, and now this one is too.


Man. I’m going to have to read this fluff, simply because I now know it exists. Does anyone else have this internal requirement that they have to read all titles from an author, especially all titles related to the same central character, simply because they read one of them? Ugh. I gobbled up the Bridget Jones books in college, and now it appears like I’ll have to put a beach vacation on the calendar just so I won’t feel guilty spending a few hours with this one. #problemsofanuptightreader


Been on my list forEVER. Makes me sad in a weird way when book covers are changed to their move tie-in versions. I love Young Adult lit. That is all.

Oh wait! I follow John Green on Instagram, and his excitement and amazement a few weeks ago when the movie was premiering was, for the lack of a better word, adorable. It was so cool to follow.


Robert Galbraith, the pen name of JK Rowling from Harry Pottery fame, has received pretty good reviews for this book. It’s the beginning of a series featuring this book’s central character, Cormoran Strike. My mom really, really liked this book, and her copy *may* have just appeared on my doorstep a couple weeks ago. When mom sends you a book without asking, well, there’s no stronger recommendation than that! Also, how amazing is that moment when you realize that someone sent you a package in the mail? Another also, my oldest punkin now shouts “PWESENT!” every time I walk into the front door carrying a box of some kind. Love how sister gets excited about deliveries, even if they are just an enormous box of size 5 Pampers or the canine’s flea and tick medication.


I feel like I’ve seen this book everywhere lately. Why have I seen this book everywhere lately? Is it a bestseller? Has it been featured in newsletters or magazines or something? I’m not sure what it is, but I feel like it has to be good.


This is exactly the type of book that Hubz finds fascinating, and he read this one last year. If I remember correctly, he said it dragged on a bit, but overall was really interesting. The kind of book that makes you go wooaaahhh.


You know the whole must-read-all-books-from-an-author problem I mentioned? Yeah. Nicholas Sparks falls into that category. And I’m not even sure why, as none of his books involve repeat characters. I did read his memoir, Three Weeks With My Brother, last year, which I really enjoyed, so perhaps that’s why I now feel like I have to read every one of his titles. I read about his life (heartbreaking at points) and I read about his writing and what launched his career (utterly fascinating and encouraging). I’m personally vested! Ha. Plus, I argue that there isn’t any better beach reading than Sparks, and not in the so-fluffy-it’s-dumb way, but in a lovely-enjoyable-relatable-characters-and-easy-to-read kind of way.

20140623-155247.jpgAllegient is the third book in the Divergent series (Divergent was first, then Insurgent was second). I really enjoyed Divergent; it was creative and fast-paced and interesting, and something I took down in just a couple of days. The series is similar to Hunger Games – female heroine, distopian future, upheaval, etc. I have to admit that I took this photo before I read books two and three, and now that I’m writing this I have read books two and three. Looking back on the series as a whole, it gets an Ehh rating from me. The first book was fantastic and the other two felt like they were forced a little bit. Also, it made my head spin with the casual mentions of character after character after character that had no development but that I was supposed to remember the names of. Nothing drives me more crazy than being two hundred pages into a book and still not remembering who Joe is or why Sylvia is important.


Does this mean there is going to be another Bourne movie? Yessssss.


Thanks for taking this walk with me, friends! I survived that jaunt into the Costco book section without adding a single title to my shelf, although I did have to pry open the 2 lb. box of Frosted Mini Wheats before we even made it to the check-out…




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Dear Babygirlsssss

June 12, 2014

Dear girlies,

Girls. Girls. Plural! That still boggles my mind.


There are two of you. Big sister and Little sister. How did I ever get so lucky? And whose adorable kids are these because surely they can’t be mine…right?

Right? Hello?

Wait, what? I gave birth to both of you? NO WAY.

I’m sure every parent, especially the newer parents of younger children, looks at their kids from time to time and think, “I can’t believe that child is mine!” It’s such a surreal experience.

All our lives we dreamt of having children; what it would feel like to find out we’re pregnant, what it would be like to carry, deliver, and nurture a baby, how fun it would be to wrap toys from Santa for Christmas and teach you how to ride a bike and sit for hours on the end of the bleachers cheering you on with the rest of the team. We dreamt what it would be like to watch you walk across the stage and accept your diploma, help you rent the U-haul for your first apartment, and dance with you at your wedding.

And then, seemingly overnight, especially in hindsight, you are there. Here. And we’re living in it.

I heard someone the other day refer to their life with tiny children as “life in the trenches.” It’s a crazy time. Tiny babies, tiny kids, and all of the messiness and beautiful chaos that having young children implies.

Sometimes, when standing deep within the trench, covered in mud and cowering from incoming bombshells, I forget that you weren’t always mine. I forget about those dreams we used to have of a house full of little feet and lots of giggles. I am now in that house. And there are little feet and lots of giggles, but they are interspersed with the tantrums and the food battles and the epic messes and the sore back and the snotty noses.

But then there are moments of clarity. Moments where, for whatever reason, life slows for a second and I’m handed that one thing that so many people wish they had: perspective.

I take a breath for a second and rise up into the air, looking at both of you, looking at all of us, from above, and I gasp. You are mine. You are both mine. You are ours! How is that possible? Is it really true?

Surely you’re just someone else’s kids that I’m just getting to borrow for a while…right?

I mean, I know I carried you and birthed you and snuggled you, but…did I really? The trenches sometimes blur the memories, but that makes the fact that those dreams are now a reality even better. It’s dreamlike, having you two as my children.

You are mine! I can’t believe it. The dreams came true. Those dreams are now our life. And it ROCKS.

(Except for the poop part. That part does not rock. My god, the poop involved in parenting young children.)

You are mine! I can’t believe it. The dreams came true…except they didn’t. Because you are better. Both of you. Our girls.

I could never have dreamed.

All my love,

For more in the Dear Babygirl series: Letters to my Daughter



So you’ve heard me talk it up about Vemma, directly and indirectly, for a long time now. Award-winning company, products, leadership, yada yada. Six-figure residual income, allowed me to quit the corporate job I hated, freedom and flexibility, now I get to write and mommy, blah blah blah.

But maybe what interests you is simply the product. Maybe you wanna dip your toe in the water and try on this company for size. Guess what: our business is BUILT on customers. Awesome, intelligent, superstar customers. We need you, Miss Customer. We want you, Mr Customer! Here’s how you can join the club:

Step 1: Go here –> http://annie.vemma.com

Step 2: Vemma has one product: a liquid nutritional supplement. Pick which way you would like to consume it: Verve (healthy energy drink), Bod-e Burn (energy drink + protein + weight management ingredients), regular Vemma (straight liquid daily nutrition), Vemma NEXT (for your kiddos).

Step 3: Pay only for your product. No fees, requirements, drama, or mumbo jumbo. If you want the same product to arrive hassle free on your doorstep at this same time next month, check the box for auto-delivery. If you don’t, don’t.

Step 4: Sit back and relish in the fact that you not only have rockin nutrition on its way to you and your family, but you are also now a customer of the most fun, professional, solid, forward-thinking, and fuss-free networking companies in all the land. High-five! Plus, you’re supporting my business and therefore my family. Double high-five!


There’s something to be said for loving what you do. But there’s also something to be said for being able to involve others in what you do and love. It’s pretty cool.

Yes, in order to build a large business, I have gone out and found a small handful of folks who are excited about the entrepreneurial and business side of Vemma like I am. But I think what most people don’t realize is that that’s only 10-20% (give or take) of my jam. Customers, they’re the bread and butter. Of my business, of our entire company.

Love our products, we love you. The end.

You are the most important.

That’s all for now! More later.

Hugs and vitamins,

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Business lately

May 29, 2014

Last week I was out walking with both kiddos when a landscaper working nearby waved, then called out, “Babysitting today?”

Huh? I’m pretty sure these are my own kids.

Is this a trick question?

Did I look too scrubby to be their mama? Too dressed up? Too old? Too young?

These are the questions keeping me up at night. Okay, not really keeping me up, but still. Weird, right?

This story has nothing to do with this post. I just wanted to share.

Okay! So. Business! Haha.


Business has been good lately. Goooooood good. I thought I’d share a little update on everything…


Vemma has been growing. New customers. New affiliates. New energy. New excitement. I have a big team growing up in Canada right now. So fun.

It boggles my mind how the SMALLEST efforts on my part, when repeated day in and day out, add up to serious growth. Every day I reach out to one new person via text or Facebook message, and every day I follow up with at least two people, usually via phone or text. I don’t ever miss a day, and those tiny actions are adding up to big results.

The company was just nominated for four Stevie Awards, some of the highest honors in business, including awards for Executive of the Year in our category for our CEO, best mobile app, and best new product for Vemma Renew. We have our monthly call with the top income earners tomorrow, and I’m excited to hear the latest sales and growth numbers. Will keep you updated.


Our two rental properties are chugging along, knock on wood. They both turned over 64.7 times last year, so here’s hoping that they stay boring and consistent and occupied for the majority of this year. Although, we did receive maintenance requests from both houses recently, so perhaps our boring streak is over.

Speaking of, one of those maintenance requests was that the fridge wasn’t cooling properly. The tenant said the freezer worked fine but not the fridge. When the property manager contacted me to inquire what I would like to do (deny the request, send out their vendor, send out my vendor, etc), I asked what THEY had already asked the renter to do to try and fix it. They had done…nothing. So I suggested having the renter unplug the fridge and vacuum the coils on the back. This was almost two weeks ago now and I haven’t heard anything about it not working or having to send out the handyman.

Shouldn’t the property manager attempt to remotely “fix” issues like this on their own? Is that asking too much from them? Simple issue, but it reinforced the point that our property manager doesn’t do anything wrong, but she sure doesn’t go above and beyond to make things better than right.


Finally, real estate-wise, we want to make some type of big move this year, we’re just not sure what or how. And by move I don’t mean moving van move (already did that, thank you very much). We want to find a creative way of financing, perhaps find an investor, purchase a multi-plex or a series of single family houses, intelligently remodel them, and perhaps flip them to someone who will love them for a long time? We’ll see. The market in Kansas City is strong right now, and therefore home prices are rising along with interest rates. It might not be the right time to buy, but I’m confident we’ll figure that out.

We have a fantastic relationship with one of the top realtors in town (my real estate salespersons license is still active, but I don’t do enough transactions to know everything she knows, so we call her in for help as often as we can), and we’ve been talking with her about our plans…we’ll see what happens.


In my writing world, I just crossed a major finish line when I completed the two manuscripts I was ghostwriting for clients. Both of them were full-length books (175ish pages each), and were way overdue. Not overdue as in specifically past a stated, agreed-upon deadline, just overdue in the sense that I wanted to deliver them and be done with them already and they were taking waaay longer than anticipated. The move last fall and the baby this spring just pushed both of those projects to the wayside.

A couple weeks ago, in a moment of frustration and desire to not only serve my clients right but move on to other projects, I committed to Hubz: everything possible to get these puppies done. I still used naptime to build Vemma, but every evening and every weekend I focused on those two books. It was terrible at times, but I surprised myself by how much I could get done if I truly worked my a$$ off.

In total, that makes three full-length books in 18 months that I have written by contract on behalf of someone else. I have to admit, I’m pretty proud of myself for that accomplishment. The contracts were nice when it came time to invoice, but this was such a step forward for the progression of my writing experiences too. I learned how to estimate and value my time, how to research and interview, how to educate clients on their responsibilities during a writing process like this, how to organize a full-length non-fiction book, and so much more.

I consider myself a writer. I want to be a published author. I have scribbles and scratches in my phone, on my computer, on sticky notes above my desk about book ideas, poems, themes, everything. I want to write children’s books and novels, and curate essay collections and books of poetry. Everything I have learned the past year and a half about writing full-length books is going to be worth it’s weight in gold in the coming years of my writing life (I almost typed writing career, but that sounded way too formal and stuffy).

Anyway, those projects are done. DONE! Phew (wipes brow).

And now it’s time to move on with my writing in other directions. Goal 1: more writing for AS.com (check!). Goal 2: illustrations for my unpublished children’s book (illustrator just waiting on standby until I say I’m finally ready). Goal 3: make a specific plan for what I want to actually do with all of the writing snippets mentioned above. Sister needs ORGANIZATION. Amen.

I’ll keep ya updated.

So that’s what I’ve been up to these days. Vemma’ing and writing and real estate’ing, oh my! And mommying, of course. #mostimportant

Here’s to your business moves the first five months of the year! Let me know what you’ve been up to…





2013: My year in review

January 12, 2014

PSSTT! I am backdating this post to January, when it was originally written, but am just now publishing it because…because…well, because I’m apparently an airhead who forgets the difference between the Publish button and the Save Draft button. #doh And then doesn’t even notice her mistake for four long months. #doubledoh
Thanks for reading. :)
Hugs, AS 4-16-14

Phew. Where did the year go?! And don’t we say that every year?

The days go slow, but the years go fast. Couldn’t agree with that more.

Anyway, at the turn of every calendar, being the personal development, goal-setting, geeky gal that I am, I always like to set a few goals for the coming year. But before doing so, I think it helps to take a few moments to review the year prior. What did we accomplish? What surprised us? What goals did we even set for ourselves last January again? And wha? We really did all of that?! It’s a fun process.

I’ll share a few things we’re aiming to accomplish (Book publishing! Vemma growth! New baby!) in 2014 later this month. Today, here are my thoughts on what went well and not so well in the amazing year that was 2013.

What went well in 2013

Writing projects This was the year of pushing for progress on several major writing projects. There were moments I wasn’t sure I would survive, I’ll admit (the month of June, you’re lost to me), but man did I get so much done. I launched two huge full-length ghostwriting book projects for clients at the very beginning of the year. I had never done anything like that before, so the learning curve was high. Overall, though, I’m proud of myself for leaping into it and figuring it out as I went. I made mistakes, big ones.
1) Ask a LOT of questions at the beginning about what you will be writing, or else your bid could be way off.
2) Bid honestly. And don’t be afraid to value your time. Amen.
3) Specifying how many rounds of editing you’re willing to do is a must. Oh my.

I wrapped up one of those projects just as we found out we were expecting our second punkin in late June, basked in the glory of only have one project to focus on for a quick month, then launched another one in August. Seeing that first book listed on Amazon and holding it in my hands, priceless. Even though it didn’t have my name on it (hence the term ghostwriting), it was an enormous personal accomplishment. And a continual motivation. If I could produce that body of work in six months, what else could I do? Especially if it was my own content, or on a subject that I was personally passionate about?

In May, I frantically wrote a rough draft of a children’s book using my iPhone after writing it all in my head while in the shower moments earlier. This fall, I finally did something with that draft, editing it a bajillion times and contacting an author consultant to begin the illustration and self publishing process. The project has progressed, albeit rather slowly, something which is completely my fault, but I’m thrilled and scared to the death at the idea that sometime this spring I might be able to actually hold that book in my hands too. I have learned so much about children’s books that I never realized was even a thing: sizing of the book, font selection, color pallete selection, how to purchase the ISBN’s that all books have, self publishing options (read: tons of them), and how fun it is to request samples from illustrators and actually see interpretations of the character in your head come through your inbox.

Finally, I kept chugging along and writing and sharing here on anniesorensen.com. My little corner of the internet has been around for several years now, and I’m proud that, at the very least, it has succesfully grown and changed and morphed right along with me. It follows my personal journey, both in my writing styles, subject matter, and voice. Thinking about that makes me happy.

Press badge I may or may not have had my very first event pass that said Press on it this past summer.

And for a “I say I’m a writer but really I don’t think I am” type of gal, that was one of those little things that was really just SO FREAKING COOL. The end.

Personal financial accomplishments This year was a big year for Hubz and I personally. We extended an investment in a documentary that we made in mid-2012, kept our two single family home rental properties up and running and cashflow positive, sold our personal home quickly and at a large profit compared to what we purchased it for in 2007, and invested in a new home that we love.

Every year we set personal financial goals. Everything from how much we want to add to this account or invest in that place, to big goals like adding new rental properties or doing business with someone or something new. 2013 started out intending to simply be a year that maintained, and it turned into a year that really looked strong with growth. The year included smarter spending, lots of communication, and strong deposits into our investments. Awesome.

Baby numero dos I would be remiss to include a list of things that went well in 2013 without including our second child! We celebrated our first punkin’s first birthday in early May, and in late June found out we were expecting our second. In a couple months we will have a couple of little girls a couple years apart. And we’re thrilled.

Balance Ugh, do I hate this word. But I accomplished something close to it this summer when I employed a nanny for several hours a week and busted a move on my work in all areas.
I was able to get a ton done, of course, but most importantly got my groove back of balancing mommyhood with Vemma building and coffee drinking and writing. That confidence and contentedness followed me all the way through the fall, even well after the help was no longer available. I learned a lot, too. Namely, it doesn’t take much to make me feel comfortable in my work (#2 job) and my mommyness (#1 job). Just a couple hours a week makes all the difference in the world. Incredibly reassuring. And helpful for making future plans.

Expanded our team The people and experts that surround us – the accountant, banker, mortgage broker, contractor, painter, web developer, marketing expert, publishing expert, etc – we strengthened that team this year, adding a few new people to the roster and strengthening the relationships with those already a part of the team. I know that’s kind of annoyingly general, but it’s a big deal to us. To be able to be in a situation and have those relationships already established to call upon, it makes growing any business, venture, idea, or just life change in general that much more efficient and possible.

Expanded friendships For two homebodies who are often blinded by business goals and house projects, we often have to pathetically force ourselves to get out and focus on friends. But we did this year, including a ton of events with our wild toddler and even a week-long vacay. And it was so worth it. Surround yourself with people that make you better, surround yourself with people that make you happy…and as much as possible, remember that you will closely resemble the lives of the top five people you spend the most time with. We’re blessed with the new friends and even better old friends that were a part of our lives in 2013.
Kept dreaming I have often considered the time I spend writing in my personal journals as worthwhile, but actually sitting down to do it seems self-serving and pure entertainment sometimes. Selfish, even. Dreaming and big-hairy-audacious-goal setting is definitely one of those. Before doing it, it seems not as important as finishing these dishes or calling that plumber before his office closes or responding to those final two emails. But once it’s done, both immediately and long term, its importance is incredibly apparent. And it should have priority. Dreaming is the same way. Amongst it all, we found a few moments this year to dream together, Hubz and I. Future freedoms for our family, growth of our businesses, expanding our residual income streams, future travel, etc. I also kept it up for my personal goals, and I have big things on the horizon of my mind like a personal essay collection, continued personal daily journaling, speaking on stage in front of 5000 screaming Vemma affiliates, commerical real estate, turning my children’s book into a series, etc. All sorts of fun things await us and our family. Can’t wait. Some of these dreams we have expanded on and turned into accountable, measurable goals, others we haven’t yet. But they are there. And I would argue that’s half the battle.

What didn’t go so well in 2013

Lack of consistency here on AS.com This summer, when book project deadlines loomed and I was thrown off kilter with suddenly have a moving, exploring toddler, this ‘lil site got pushed to the backburner. I wish that hadn’t been the case. I write something, somewhere, every day, whether it’s in my journal, punkin’s journal, on my hard drive, for a client, on our personal family blog, or here on AS. While I think it’s more important to simply keep writing versus worrying about where I’m writing, I still wish I would have prioritized keeping up with posts here. This is one of the more formal outlets for my writing, and it pushes me. It’s easy to be casual. It’s harder to be polished and professional. If I can make time to write, I can make time to better spread that writing across all of my outlets.

Silicon Prairie News, wha? I miss my contributions to SPN! That was another outlet that pushed my writing – writing more journalistic, reporting-type pieces. I need to prioritize it again. If they’ll have me. :)

Not. Enough. Books. Okay, I don’t think I could ever read everything in a calendar year that I want to.
How many books would you like to read this year?

Ha. But still, as I’ve mentioned, this was a year for experiencing a ton of new things and teetering this way and that to learn, adjust, and find our own definition of balance. Sitting down with a book, unfortunately, sometimes fell by the wayside. I still covered more than 33 titles, though, so I’ll consider that a win and be realistic with my goal for 2014.Vemma maintenance versus growth Maintaining a six-figure, largely residual-income producing business amongst wifey and mommy and writing and moving and family’ing and traveling and just life in general? That’s a win. A HUGE win. What Vemma has done for my family and our future, the lives of so many of our friends, family, and colleagues, our health and our freedoms is so substantial, I sometimes can’t even begin to wrap my head around it without shrinking into Do I even deserve all of this amazingness? type of thoughts. All of that being said, the company has hit momentum. Seven years to hit $100 million in annual sales ($10 mill + monthly), then $220 million in annual sales barely a year later. Uhh, yeah, ridiculous. There are pieces of the pie – HUGE pieces of the pie – still out there for the taking. Despite the massive growth, Vemma is still a microscopic fish in the ocean of networking, and the potential is limitless. It always has been, but it is even more so now, with huge recent changes to their business model. I don’t like limits. It’s up to me to step up and double, triple, quadruple the piece of our pie. The only way to do that is to help others do it, too. I’m on it.

Treading water with personal interests A year of new experiences and projects brings about a lot of awesomeness, but it also brings quite a bit of Thrown Off Kilterness. Leisure reading, as I’ve mentioned, along with things like consistently working out, focusing at all on one of my favorite hobbies: home decor, and even simple things that I take responsibility for like the dishes and the mail and cooking and housework.

It was an amazing year. On January 1, 2013 we had a 7 month-old infant, a cozy home we loved, and thriving businesses. 365 days later, on December 31, 2013, we had a 19 month-old talking and walking toddler, a new home, and a second pregnancy well into its sixth month. I wrote a full-length book, started new journals, read almost three books a month, and published 33 pieces here on AS.com and dozens more on our family blog. We kept up our two rental properties, continued our documentary investment, traveled as a family and as a couple, kicked off a large home remodel, and happily consumed loads of coffee and wine (well, at least the first half of the year) and meals with friends.

Can’t wait to see what 2014 brings. If anything, I know this for sure: it will be an adventure. Thanks for being there for us!