What a difference a year makes.

Today’s a pretty big day for me. It was one year ago today that I decided to take the leap and join It Works. I was very pregnant, totally clueless, and incredibly excited to start something new. I didn’t know what was in store for me, but I just had a feeling, deep down, like this was going to be something big.

Fast-forward one quick year later and I am healthier, wealthier, happier and more fulfilled than I’ve ever been before. What started as a way to make a few hundred extra bucks a month to help pay for our nanny quickly turned into something that changed my life forever.

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Today was my last Monday at my job. This is my last week working for someone else – maybe forever. This feeling of being on the cusp of owning my own time and having total freedom over my life is indescribable. I thought I’d probably be 60 years old before I owned my own time! To have that at 33 is nothing short of amazing.

I didn’t think I had any intention of leaving my career. I didn’t think I had even let that thought enter my brain. And yet, I looked back on this post from almost a year ago, and I said this:

My BIG dream, though? If I really let myself ‘go there’ in my head? (I mean, I’m so not there in my head yet, and it seems ridiculous to even voice it out loud – or on my blog – but what the heck.) My big dream would be to make the kind of income that many of these people are making, the kind that far surpasses their day-job income and allows them to do this full-time. I would do It Works, join a yoga studio and finally be able to commit to becoming a super awesome yogi, and best of all, spend more time with my kids as they grow up. I’d donate much more to charity, and I’d be able to do things like take my family on vacation and save a nice chunk for each child’s college education.

It looks like it was my big dream from the beginning to make this happen – to own my time and to secure my family’s financial future. And now here I am! It’s just absolutely mind-blowing to me. We’ve paid off our credit card debt, we’re now able to save in a month what before we couldn’t even save in a year; Dave’s about to get a new car (the only thing he’s really ever wanted!) and we’re saving to buy our forever home hopefully by next summer. We can pay our bills more easily and treat ourselves once in awhile to things we never would have before.

I honestly think that one of the biggest keys to my success so far (besides consistent work, of course!) is the fact that I BELIEVED from the beginning that I’d succeed. I didn’t know how, and I didn’t know how long it would take, but I just believed I would do it.

There are so many things I couldn’t have anticipated, though, and I know that my teammates and sidelines all feel this way, too. Financial freedom aside, the entire experience has enhanced my life in countless ways. A jolt of electricity and excitement has been infused into my life and into my household. I feel healthier than ever before. I’ve developed as a person in virtually every aspect of my life – as a wife and mom, as an employee, as a friend, as a leader to my team. I’ve met so many wonderful people who I never would have met otherwise. I’ve gotten to do crazy fun things like go to Florida in January for conference and speak at a big event here in Milwaukee in March and go to St. Louis just last month for a leadership retreat. I feel like I’m a part of something BIG. Like there’s somewhere I belong and it’s right here – with these people, with this company.

And truly, I feel like I’m making a difference with what I’m doing. I’m leading a team that’s grown to almost 550 people in nearly 30 states and Canada, and it’s growing every day. It’s this incredible ripple effect that just keeps going – just because I decided to say yes a year ago! All of those people are getting healthier, setting and reaching goals, developing and improving themselves, getting out of debt, and helping others do the same. I truly thank God every single day for this opportunity. For giving me the courage to say yes and the motivation to work hard and to make these big things happen.

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I also think Ellie being on the way had something to do with the pull I was feeling to try this. I couldn’t have understood til she was here what it would be like to be the full-time working mom of three kids. To have my girl, my last baby, and to know how much faster it all goes when there’s another; and how a few hours in the evening just would not be enough with all of them. It was never enough, even before her, but since I didn’t think I had any other option, I made the most of it. I stayed positive, I cherished the time spent with my boys when I wasn’t at work. But now? To be at the point where Henry is starting kindergarten, for us to be officially entering the “school years,” and for me to be able to greet him off the bus each day, attend day events and field trips, and take him to his activities? It’s priceless.

I enrolled Ben in a 3k preschool program one morning a week for this year, and I’m SO excited for him to get out and make some friends and be away from home all on his own, without his big bro by his side. I feel so fortunate that it’s even an option now, since I’ll be able to take him and pick him up each Friday morning.

And Ellie. I’ve worked hard and sacrificed some time with her during this precious first year, but the result is being able to be with her so much more from here on out. Her little life is SO different than the life Henry and Ben had as babes. They’ll never know the difference, but I sure will. This is just the most fleeting, special time, when our kids are little, and I’m just so thankful that I can be around more for them now.

I’m eager to see what this journey will bring in year two. It’s exciting to not know what’s to come – who I’ll meet, what kind of experiences I’ll have, what the income will mean for our family, where this journey will lead. I do know, though, that I will never, ever take this for granted, and I will never stop working hard to make a better life for my family (and future generations of my family!) and to help my teammates do the same for their families. This opportunity is just one of the biggest blessings I have ever received.

Cheers to year two and all that lies ahead.

Day in the Life: Summer 2015

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The date is Wednesday, July 8, 2015.

Dave and I are 33 years old.
Henry is 5.75 years old.
Ben is 3 1/2 years old.
Ellie is 10 1/2 months old.

This will be my most half-you-know-what-ed DITL to date, but I’m proud I did it! This particular day was sandwiched in the middle of two trips out of town, and since I didn’t take any notes and am writing it up a week later, I’ll pretty much just be sharing the photos from the day!

The weekend prior was the 4th of July. We spent the day with family, going to a parade and then to my in-laws’ for a barbecue, and then the next day we left for two nights at a resort about an hour away. We had fun, but Ben was a bit of beast. The kid goes through phases where he’s just scared to poop and will hold it for days and days, and one of those phases coincided with our trip. Needless to say, he was not a happy camper, so we weren’t either. But we made the most of it and came away with some good memories anyway!

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The weekend after this (this past weekend) I spent in St. Louis on a leadership retreat for It Works. One of our uplines, Bonnie, invited the Double Diamonds and above in her downline for a weekend at her house filled with fun, learning and being spoiled. It was an absolute blast. I had a lot of moments of seriously, I can’t believe this is my life.

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I showed Ben these pics and he said “Mom, can I eat that cookie?” Sorry bud, you’re a little late. ;)

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So the day I picked for DITL was a Wednesday, one of the two days I worked last week between the two vacations. It was also the day we had scheduled the inspection on the new house we were set to buy, so Dave and I both left work early to do that. Busy, busy, busy!

Since then, the entire plan has gone out the window; we are no longer buying that house and we are no longer selling our house. A lot has gone down in a week! And as draining as it all was, we feel really good about how it all turned out. Next spring we should have the down payment and income to be able to buy our forever home, which was not the case right now. So waiting will be worth it, I’m sure of it.

Anyway!

Usually I write down times and quotes and little details, but alas, I do not have those this time. I do have photos though! This was our day.

6:30 a.m. or so

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Love that bed head!

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Somebody recently lost his first tooth!

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Got the inspection results back from our house and Dave was texting me about them from work.

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Shelly arrived around 8 a.m. and I was off to work til 2:30 or so. Amazon box waiting on my desk held some makeup primer and Bare Minerals foundation.

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The house that ultimately wasn’t meant to be.

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Henry is obsessed with making videos of himself dancing. I dare you to watch this and not laugh. Kid’s got passion, that’s for sure!

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Ellie’s started taking a few steps!

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Grocery shopping night, so not much food left in the house. Dave made a list and cooked while I entertained the children. And drank wine.

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And played Kinect Sports with Ben.

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I’m sure I spent time on the computer much of the evening, then wrote out a birthday card for my friend Kiersten and had a few bites of this delicious gelato! Bedtime was probably 11.

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Hopefully I’ll be back on my DITL game come fall. Though I think I may spend TOO much time on these posts usually, so maybe between this and what I normally do, I can find a happy medium! Love having them to look back on!

Henry’s last day of 4k

Just before Ellie was born last August, I was so worried about the timing of Henry’s first day of school, which was the same day as my due date – September 2. Would I miss his first day? Would I get to see him on and off the bus? Would I be there for that all-important moment in his childhood history?

Ellie made her arrival early – on the evening of his 4k open house, actually – and I was home with a couple days to spare before his first day of school. That morning was so exciting – we took pictures in the front yard and walked him down to the bus stop, with 6-day-old Ellie in her stroller. Henry was hardly nervous at all, and my heart got onto that big yellow school bus right along with him as I watched it drive away. I was so proud of him and happy for him, and I remember crying as I got back into the van that Dave was driving so we could follow the bus and make sure Henry got to school. Post-partum hormones probably didn’t help the situation.

Fast-forward nine quick months and my baby is hardly a baby anymore, and my biggest baby is officially a kindergartener.

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Henry had his last day of school a week ago today, and I was excited to get the official last day of school picture and put it next to the first day pic. I knew he’d grown – but wow!! I mean, the shirt has shrunk from many wearings and washings, but that boy has really grown. That little baby face has turned into the face of a kid. And just like that, his very first year of school is over.

I remind myself that we have so many first days and last days ahead of us, but oh, how apparent it is how fast it’ll all go.

He has mixed feelings about summer vacation. He likes the slower pace of his mornings but I know he misses his teacher and friends and the daily activities that came with school, too. He’s probably bored around home much of the time, and I know he’ll welcome school back when the time comes at the end of summer.

It’s strange to not yet know which school he’ll be at in the fall. We thought for sure our house would have sold by now and that we’d be planning our move to our new house, in our new school district – but alas, no dice just yet. So he may still go to a brand new school for kindergarten, or he may return to the same school where he went to 4k. It’s not fun being in limbo!

I bought a copy of Oh The Places You’ll Go and gave it to him on his last day, and inside the cover I wrote him a little note with all the highlights of 4k – riding the bus, center time, countless crafts, library days, mat man, the hammer song, field trips to First Stage and Green Meadows. I plan to jot down a few highlights in there at the end of each school year, as long as I can keep track of it through the years!

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Sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset… So many of both still ahead of us. What a beautiful, amazing place to be.

Ellie at 9 months old

My sweet Ellie is nine months old today! How can this be? I said to Dave yesterday morning – only three more months of having a baby, ever! This is very bittersweet for me, and as much as I know there is so much fun and joy to come, I think I will always mourn the end of this precious stage of life, even years from now. But time passes and seasons change, and I am so thankful I was able to have three healthy babies and enjoy their babyhoods so much! Because whoa, I LOVE babies. Pretty sure I kiss Ellie’s cheeks and neck and belly and feet about a million times a day. The soft skin, the chubby rolls, the sweet little smiles? I could just die over it, all of it.

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So, nine months old. Out for as long as she was in. Last year at this time my belly was round and life was so sweet with anticipation. And now, the reality of her is even better than I could have possibly mustered up in my mind back then. I still sort of can’t believe she’s real.

She has completed our family in the most perfect way, and we are all so in love with her. She is breathtakingly beautiful and so very sweet, and as much as it’s possible for a child of less than a year, she’s just … elegant. That’s ridiculous, right? But truly, something about her mannerisms and her way of carrying herself, even as a baby, remind me of … a movie star. Like she already knows how beautiful she is, and she has a strange confidence in it. It’ll be interesting to see if she carries this with her through her life.

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Girl is on the move and will likely be our fastest walker. Her brothers both walked around a year – a little later for Benny. Ellie is cruising around furniture and crawling at lightning speed and letting herself go and standing for a second at a time before bumping down on her butt. Pretty sure she’ll be walking within the next month or so – not that I really want to rush it!

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She loves to eat and can’t be really bothered with purees anymore, even though our pantry is still full of them. She spits it out or turns her head, or sometimes begrudgingly eats what we offer on a spoon, but for the most part, she just wants to feed herself. She gets so excited about mealtime, and whatever we put in front of her she scoops up and shoves in her mouth with abandon. We give her pretty much everything now, and it felt like we made the transition from pureed fruits and veggies only to anything-goes in like a day. Allergies? Eh. Spoiling her? Eh.

Holding off on treats with the boys, making them eat veggies and fruits longer – sure didn’t bode well for their later eating habits, so maybe being less strict with Ellie will serve us well. Or probably not. It’s a crap shoot either way. But she loves to eat!

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She’s still nursing really well. As with her brothers before her, and probably most babies at this age, she’s too distracted to nurse for any length of time when she’s awake. She’s used to getting a bottle in the middle of the day while I’m at work, and since I don’t really give her bottles on the weekends, I’m pretty sure she drinks less milk on the weekends since she doesn’t want to nurse as much. She’s still really good before and after naps, though, and before bed and when she wakes up. I am savoring it as much as I can. Breastfeeding my babies has been one of the most unexpectedly amazing experiences of my life, and I’ll be sad when it’s over. But again, happy it happened at all. We’ll see how long she goes. Henry weaned himself at 8 months so I pumped for four months; and I cut Benny off at 13 months, though he was probably about ready to be done, too. With Ellie, I feel like I’ll let her go as long as she wants!

Ellie is still a really happy baby. We say she has perma-smile on her face. Though more and more she’s showing her dramatic side, too, which wants what it wants when it wants it! She’ll cry big, fat tears and will wail when we take something away from her that she wants (like my phone or a piece of paper she picked up off the floor), and she sure likes to get into mischief as of late.

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If the pantry or fridge or dishwasher is open, she’ll make a beeline for it, every time and without fail. She knocks over garbage cans, climbs the stairs, puts everything in her mouth, pulls on cords, goes for electric sockets, empties cabinets and drawers – you name it. When she’s awake, I feel like we just have to be on top of her every second lest she damage something or seriously hurt herself! She’s always up early in the morning (three for three one early risers – yay us) so getting ready for work is often a comedy of errors, me trying to put on makeup and dry my hair while also chasing after her and putting her back where I want her, which is in her room with her toys, over and over again. Usually I just give up and let her play at my feet in the bathroom, though that still entails mischief – going for the garbage, pulling on the shower curtain, emptying the drawers. Ah, babies!

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She’s pretty good about playing with her toys, and she’s very entertained by her brothers. She’s down for anything, anytime – just so easygoing and happy wherever we take her. She continues to get boatloads of attention whenever we take her out in public.

Her hair continues to grow and has reached a whole new level of awesomeness/craziness. I comb it down nicely after her bath each night, but it just pops right back up as soon as it’s dry, growing in all directions, curling over itself and getting in her face unless we put her in a headband, ponytail or piggy tails, which are my favorite!

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She’s regressed a bit in the sleep department. She’s been my best sleeper by a LONG shot, and the four-month wakeful period never happened for her. For quite awhile she was sleeping all night most nights, but the past month or two, she’s been up once a night to eat, sometimes even two or three times. And the past week or so has been a bit brutal, with her waking up within an hour of us putting her down, and a few nights actually refusing to go back to sleep for a couple hours. One night over the weekend she got absolutely hysterical from over-tiredness – I had never seen her like that. Luckily the refusing to sleep is rare, and I hope it stays that way!

She’s a very vocal child, babbing and yelling in equal measure. Her “mama” phase that happened months ago left as quickly as it arrived, and these days “mama” is a rare sound – and music to my ears when I hear it! She loves to yell and shriek, and her babbling consists of mostly ba-ba-ba and random funny sounds.

I have her nine-month appointment next week so I’m not sure how much she weighs right now. She’s in 6-12, 9-month and 9-12 month clothes. I’ve bought her all 12-month stuff for summer. She’s in size 3 diapers. She still has only two teeth on the bottom, which she’s had for 3-4 months now, and no other ones appear to even be close to coming through. The boys both had a lot more teeth by now! But she does great eating even without many teeth, and her smile with those two little teeth sure is cute! She still takes a nuk, and we lose them all the time, which drives me nuts. She doesn’t seem as addicted to them as her brothers were, though, so hopefully taking them away eventually won’t be a big issue.

As much as she smiles constantly, she really doesn’t laugh all that much. We really have to tickle her or do something else dramatic to get her laughing. She’s into peek-a-boo lately, putting whatever she’s holding in front of her face and smiling from behind it when we ask “where’s Ellie?” She also does “so big!” with her arms when we ask “how big is Ellie?”

She’s very into her mama, which I love, of course. She wants to be held whenever I’m around and is happy to just chill in my arms, whether I’m just sitting or walking around and trying to get things done.

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Our whole family is pretty much smitten with her, and like I said, I sometimes can’t believe she’s real. That she’s here and she’s mine and she’s so darn awesome. She is such a gift, and I don’t take for granted for one second that I get to be her mom!

Happy 9 months, sweet girl!

2-weeks-later update: At her 9-month appointment, Ellie weighed 17 lbs, 5 oz. and was 28 inches long. My tall and skinny lady! She’s also in such a mama stage right now, and I sort of love it! If I’m in the room, it doesn’t matter who has her, she just wants her mommy! She’s such a snuggle bug and I just can’t get enough of her.

Reasons my kids wake me up at night. 

I have to pee.

I need a Kleenex.

I need medicine for my cough.

Cough, cough, cough, cough. (All night.)

I had a bad dream.

My hand is asleep!

I lost my boxing gloves!

I need a drink of water.

“I slept all night, Mom!” (4:30 a.m.)

I’m ready for some boob!

I can’t find my nuk!

I’m ready to party and be awake for two hours, Mom!

I pooped and need my diaper changed.

I have a hang nail.

I need you to scratch my back.

Wahhhhhhh! (No clue.)

It’s thundering.

It’s raining.

I want the blinds open.

I want the blinds closed.

The night light is too bright.

Open the door more!

Cover me up!

I peed the bed. (Wailing)

It’s light out! It’s morning! (4:58 a.m.)

I need a bandaid.

I need a hug.

Every night I go to bed and think maybe tonight will be the night that my kids let me sleep all night. It happens about one night out of every 15-20. Usually someone wakes me up, and if it’s just one of them, I consider that night a win. It’s the nights when all three wake up at different times, sometimes multiple times, when I wake up wanting to scream FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST LET ME SLEEP!!

Last night the boys slept all night and Ellie just woke up once to eat around 4:45. I will take it.

I remind myself all the time – someday I will sleep again.

Henry is 5 years, 7 months
Ben is 3 years, 3 months
Ellie is 8 months

Monumental May.

Ah May. I’m so glad you’re here, for so many reasons. Spring and summer are upon us again, which makes my heart so happy, but this year, you mean so much more.

I know I will always look back on this month in my life as a truly pivotal and monumental one. The month my last baby turned nine months old. The month we got our house completely ready to put on the market. Maybe the month we sell our house – our first house, where we brought two babies home.

And the last month I worked full-time for somebody else. Maybe forever.

I still can’t quite believe it, but as of June 1, I’m cutting back to three days a week at my day job. Working part-time has been something I’ve longed for since I became a mom, but I didn’t let myself dwell on it too much since I just never thought it’d be possible for me. I never thought we’d be able to afford it, and I didn’t think it would be possible in the line of work I’m in. But now we can afford it, and amazingly, when I put a proposal on paper and presented it to my company, they came back two days later with a YES.

It comes with a steep pay cut, of course, but it’s so worth it. To be able to have more time at home and still keep my foot in my career, at least for awhile, is truly the best of both worlds. Our nanny always wanted to work four days a week for us, not five, so to be able to give her a day off now, too, is awesome.

We’ll still employ her four days a week, so I’ll have one extra day each week with my kids, and then I’ll have one day a week where she takes the kids to her house (or once we have a bigger house, she may just come to us and I can be in the office or out doing things) and I have the day for myself. That part is so exciting I could just about burst. “Me time” has been pretty non-existent in my life the past few years, but especially the last year or so. To think that I’ll have time to be alone, to clean the house or run errands or just relax, to work on my It Works stuff, to go to a yoga class once a week – I just can’t get over it. And we’ll be flexible – those days will likely be a bit shorter than a full day, since I want more time with my kids, too. Maybe some days I’ll keep Ellie home with me, or one of the boys, to get some one-on-one time with each. We may switch our days around sometimes to allow for an extra long weekend.

It’s just an absolute dream come true.

And my future with It Works – because of It Works – is still looking so promising and bright, I almost can’t wrap my head around it. I hit Double Diamond with the company at the end of March, and now I’m already closing in on Triple. Dave hit Diamond at the end of April, and our family got another bonus. There’s just no stopping us now. Andrea and I are leading a team of 260+ people all over the country, and it’s just growing every day.

This whole experience has been the best, most exciting and awe-inspiring experience ever. I look back on myself of nine months ago – nine months ago tomorrow I joined – and I’m just baffled and overjoyed at what’s transpired. I was completely clueless when I got into this. It was something I never thought I’d do. I was a bit fearful, very nervous, but also hopeful, too. I didn’t know what I was doing, and I had no idea how I’d make it happen, but I just had this feeling deep down that I’d succeed. I saw so many others doing it, and I just felt like, ok, that could be me, too. I wanted to give something new a whirl, and it’s changed my entire life.

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These kids of mine are the driving force behind all that I’ve busted my butt for over the last nine months. It hasn’t been easy to work two jobs all that time, but now just a short time later, it’s paying the dividends I was longing for. They’ll have more mom time, we’ll have a bigger house, we may be able to take a vacation this summer. I’m just so happy and thankful! And so very excited for the summer and all that is to come.

May will be a busy one – full-time work, evening events for my “real” job, evening and weekend events for my “side” job, getting the last of our house projects done. But knowing that it’s the last month of working quite so much will get me through it. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel – and it is SO bright!