Tuesday, June 14, 2016

An update!

I've been gone from my blog for a long time!  Partly because of my new work, partly because I knew I only had a few months left in beautiful Germany, and didn't find the time to write, and partly because we were gearing up for the move... purging and planning, and spending time with friends.  There's no way I could ever try to "catch up" with what life has been like, so I'm going to just start back up and see what happens...

While hubby is studying to become "promotable" in his career, my boys and I were able to make it to Michigan in time to celebrate my mom's 80th birthday!  We're finishing out 1st and 3rd grades from the comfort of the sunroom and/or patio, overlooking the part of the Great Lakes Waterway  I now call home.  Though my parents moved to this town after I was away at college--it's been over 20 years since this became their address. Twenty YEARS?  I'm still flabbergasted how time seems to go on, but I haven't aged one bit.

We've made a few prayerful decisions about the future of our family, that I'm currently humbled, overwhelmed, and excited about!  Once we learned we were going to be able to move back into the home we call OURS in North Carolina (the renters wanted out--yippee!), we began weighing the pros/cons of our schooling options.  In the 5 years that we've been formally educating the kids, we've done public American, public German, and home school and have loved each experience.  We're not one of those families that is set in stone about our approach.  Each time we move, and even each year we face, we consider all our options.  Always with prayer, and always with a lot of others unsolicited opinions and advice hanging over our heads.  Some treasured, some taken with a grain of salt. The BEST encouragement I received more than once from one of my best friends (and have already shared with another dear friend working through the same decision) was this:  Any time you're tempted to "discuss" this situation with someone, DON'T.  Instead, discuss it with God.  Pray about it.  He's the only one who knows what's BEST for YOUR family. She shared that she gave herself 30 days to pray quietly before discussing with her husband, and making a decision together.  I gave myself until the end of May, but our time was cut short by some deadlines we weren't anticipating.  I'm happy to say, though, that things were amazingly more clear by the time the deadline came, and we're going to be Home Educators again!  We've chosen to participate in a Classical Conversations community.  This is something that I wanted to do when we were homeschooling in Germany, but the closest community was over an hour away.  And then we opted for German public school--because why not?  My heart is happy to go back to home school, and I'm also grateful for the structure and community this endeavor will provide.

The other decision is much less DEEP, but still exciting.  Home Projects!  We're getting new flooring, and it's hardwood, y'all!  Waiting for estimates on the prices for our top choices, and will make a decision soon!  Also, got an estimate for having popcorn ceiling removed in the parts of our house that have cathedral ceilings.  Guess what?  It's not happening.  Especially since hardwoods will make our home extra echo-y...  maybe bumpy ceilings will absorb some sound?  I'm not calling it popcorn ceiling anymore.  I'm calling it noise-control.  And since we're not getting the ceilings done yet, we'll have more funds for the floors, and I can get the one I REALLY love.  Here's a pic from Pinterest...

So... the living room, hallway, and kitchen/laundry room will look something like this...  well, at least the floors will!

That's it for today, folks.  The boys are up, and we've got first and third grade to finish up in the next two days!!

Hope your summer is beautiful!

Sunday, January 24, 2016


A few months ago, I posted about feeling "something" about to change.  I've been in prayer and "research" mode since then.  It's FUN to know that something HAS changed!  

In a nutshell, I knew it was time to begin looking for an income.  Mainly, to pay off our mortgage at warp-speed. We've got desires to support missionaries, and already do so, but what an amazing opportunity we could have to be able to give MORE? Or even allow a family back from the field on furlough to live, RENT-FREE, in our paid-off home while we're living in another part of the country?   This is our FIRST goal, and I KNOW that I KNOW God will have other dreams for us.  And so, I'm ready for the challenge! 

It's a "thing" for lots of military spouses to represent Direct Sales companies, as we're always moving, and knowing that we'd probably have a regular "job" if we didn't up an move every 2-3 years.  I have several friends who are involved in and rewarded well for representing many companies and selling their awesome products--Jamberry (nail decor), Young Living (essential oils), Do Terra (essential oils), Pampered Chef, Trades of Hope (accessories made by women around the world rescued from human trafficking), Origami Owl (jewelry), Mary Kay, Arbonne, Avon, Shaklee, Melaleuca, etc...  Knowing people who sell these products has been helpful in my decision making process. I was able to let them know I was considering signing up as a consultant, and they were able to share their mission, and their companies' missions, as well.  

It was a difficult choice to make.  I truly know the heart of each of the consultants I spoke to.  They're selling their products knowing that they truly are making a difference in the lives of their customers, the lives of the artisans producing their products, and/or the lives of the consultants who sign up under them to represent the various companies.

Ultimately, you'll know by my posts on Facebook that I chose to represent Rodan + Fields.  There are many reasons I chose R+F, but below, you'll see a short outline of why I'm doing this at all, and why I chose them.

1)  Dave Ramsey gave me great framework for being intentional about how I tell my money where to go.  Since completing FPU less than three years ago, we’ve doubled our missions giving, paid off college debt, bought hubby's car for cash (ok it was only $5,000, but still!), maintained the new deck on our home in NC, replaced our driveway, put a new roof on our house, and maintained/fixed our planned and unexpected car needs.  None of it hurt.  If I can be so deliberate about how I save and spend, why not be just as intentional about adding more money to the toolbox? Back in August, I felt God releasing me to be creative in how to MAKE money, so that eventually I can be more generous LATER.  

2) I can sell R+F products without keeping inventory, without having “shows,” and never touching anyone else’s money.

3) These products work, 60-day satisfaction guarantee, or 100% money back (customer pays return shipping). If I’m asking someone to spend a big chunk of change and the product doesn’t work for them, I won’t feel like I’ve made an enemy because they can get ALL of their money back, even if they return a nearly empty bottle.  How awesome is that?

4) If I chose to work with another MLM company, selling jewelry, nail decor, home decor, kitchen tools… A person may enjoy purchasing something once, maybe twice, and feel like they’ve “helped” me… but if I sell something they use twice EVERY day and they LOVE it,  they’ll come back to me in 2 months (products are packaged for 60-day supply) and happily order more. Some may even love the products enough to want to make a few extra bucks every month by selling them.

5) Jewelrey, pillows, cleaning products, kitchen gadgets. You can leave home without them. No one leaves home without their face.  And if a person's skin is improving, people WILL notice.

6) If I change my mind about being a consultant, even I have a 60-day money back guarantee on the starter kit that I purchased. My starter kit was very affordable. It’s a very low risk, even if I walk away after 6 months. In the mean time, I've gotten my products at a 25% consultant discount.  That's a GREAT deal.  

7) These products truly change lives.  The result of their investment in the skincare products, for some, are long-awaited afer many attempts and many wasted dollars. People who would never have left home (or at times not even come out of their bathroom) without makeup, are now comfortable showing their faces.  Painful acne is gone.  People with psoriasis and eczema are comfortable in their own skin.  Scars from skin cancer excision are undetectable. Sun damage is reversed. I've read story after story of lives changed.  This is so much deeper than vanity!  

8)  The business aspect also changes lives. So many consultants have their own testimonies of how working the business has been a blessing to them.  Some people work it to help fund adoptions, dig themselves out of debt, or finally get to take a long-awaited vacation.  Some people start non-profits, and even RETIRE from their job, because they make more money building their R+F business.  I'm going to be honest.  I would LOVE for R+F to be the only job I have for the rest of my life! 

9)  There is credibility in this business.  The dermatologists that created the products have over 40 years of combined experience in the field.  They are dedicated to making their products so good that you don't NEED a dermatologist. 

10) I'm not reinventing the wheel.  Though I consider myself a creative person, I don't need to come up with my own business plan, my own products, or my own web site.  All of this is provided for me, so I can hit the ground running.  The hobbies that I have (sewing, writing, teaching Sunday School, music) can still be hobbies that I enjoy, and I won't be suddenly obligated to do these things for "business."  

11)  It's FUN!  Truly.  I've stayed up late at night reading the educational files, product information, watching people post their success stories, questions, and simply soaking up all the excitement.  There is such a thing as R+F insomnia.  It's a good thing!

12) SOMEONE is going to buy these products. Why shouldn’t I be the one selling them?

So, there's my story.  I'm learning from some great leaders, and I'm in for the ride of my life!  And, my skin is getting better every day!  I'd LOVE for you to join me, if you're at all up for a bit of adventure!  

Saturday, December 26, 2015

December 2015, A FULL Month!

December is a busy month for everyone, this I know!  Besides the Christmas and Holiday activities, we get to  celebrate Hubby's birthday, which was the big FORTY! Here are the best pics of our month:

Unit Holiday Party.  And probably the last year Little Brother will want to sit on Santa's lap.

We were given the makings to this Gingerbread Nativity from our friends.  Our elves really couldn't wait to decorate it. 

 I used my new Silhouette Cameo to make some decorations. 

Hubby's birthday was a FULL one.  He had a teambuilding event (Go Kart Racing), Big Brother had a Christmas Concert at the Evangelischer Kirche, and THEN we got to do cake/gifts...

Besides the Vocal concert on Hubby's birthday, Big Brother had other musical pursuits this month: Piano Recital and Handbell Choir performance.

Here he is with his piano teacher:

Here is the video of his Christmas Piano Recital song
Here is a video one of his Handbell Choir songs

A quiet moment: Friday morning Frühstück for us (after the boys are dropped off at Grundschule). The pottery is leftover presents on the table from the Birthday party the night before.  It was too pretty to move. 

We had some fun with the Children's Choir (the Joyful Noisemakers) singing "Go Tell it on the Mountain." Our soloists and backup singers did great! We then had a Birthday Party for Jesus in the fellowship hall... 

Now that it's break time, we have a list of "fun stuff to do" as a family.  Some of the things are Thermalbad, "Brawnees," New Star Wars "Move", Museum, Tobolino... I'm sure we'll add in a few more.

"Brawnee" Baking!

One of the most beautiful Christmas Markets we've been to is right here, where we live.  The kids don't LOVE Christmas Markets, so they humored us and let us drag them downtown on a Tuesday night.  We had a great time, and their favorite part was getting Lego-shaped chocolate, and drinking hot chocolate.

Merry Christmas 2015

Well, it's Christmas, and Weihnachts Ferien!  Just enjoying the lights, decorations, traditions, and down-time is nice, but knowing and believing the Christmas Story amplifies the anticipation and wonder. Celebrating the birth of the King of kings and Lord of lords! What an amazing and incomprehensible exchange... trading heaven for an opportunity to walk amongst His own creation, become one of us. This is just the beginning of the story.  

Our family joined the community at our installation's Candlelight Service, ate a lovely candle-lit roast beef dinner (on our wedding china!), then tore into the gifts. On Christmas we hosted two chaplains in our brigade, and two little ones.  It has been a sweet time.  No homework, lazy pj days, nibbling on plates of cookies delivered by neighbors, rotating apartment doors (ours, and the two other apartments in our stairwell... the kids alternate between them all) baking, cleaning, swimming at the Thermalbad... just hanging out. A much needed time of just "being."  

Here are some pics of our Christmas Eve... Hubby is only in one... Guess that's what happens when you're the better photographer in the family. 

When you live far away from family,
Flat Rate Priority Mail Boxes make wonderful wrapping paper! 

PEZ and Star Wars.  The perfect combination for Little Brother.

Brotherly love.

He's happy about his team's TKD warmup suit.  Maybe he'll get to wear it to a tournament?

His favorite gift... air-powered keyboard.

Science Kit!

A hand-made ornament for Mom.

Kitchen towels and hand made (by my sis) ceramic mugs.  

Monday, December 7, 2015

Cozy Home 2015 Christmas!

I have been decorating for Christmas a bit, and will be turning off the lights and snuggling up with a cup of tea once I share pics of what I've done with the place so far...  It's always a work in progress, and we've got some little Elves that keep suggesting we do "festive" stuff... so who knows what kind of plans they've got for us... see below!

Nuts & oranges. A nod to St. Nikolaus, and what he leaves in children's shoes.

Nordmann Fir.  This is Germany's favorite Christmas tree.

I might make a sign that says "joy to the world!" to go by the globes...

Scored this star for FREE at the recycling center our first year here.

Hubby and I used this as our first Chrismas tree 17 years ago!  Same ornaments. ;) 
Outside the door of our apartment, I keep this branch up all year and switch out the decorations with the seasons.  

This year, I kept the birdhouses up and made them look winter-y.  

I fell in love with these wooden hanging decorations when I visited Bavaria.  Can't get enough of them! 

The star garland was made last year from salt-dough ornaments.  

This paper star was 3 Euro at Zimmerman's--the German version of Big Lots.

I knit this garland back when I lived in Alaska--2010.  It's an easy pattern, and the only knitting project I've completed! 

The stairwell at night.

Made this wreath with some garland that didn't work on this year's tree. 

12-years ago, a friend gave me this "peace" wall-hanging when I told her I grew up with
one JUST like it!  It reminds me of my Mom when I take it out every Christmas.
I added it to an old Hobby Lobby wreath and used these pine cones we collected
and spray-painted from our yard in North Carolina in 2011.  

Our kindness elves holding a note in their message basket telling us we should
"hang out" and relax for together time on Sunday.
They make many suggestions for spreading
kindness and love throughout the Advent season.
But only on day's we're not too busy.  They're good like that.