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I am an old blogger who has found their way back to the internet. I love being a mom, an African American, spending time with my husband and shopping online. I waste time on Facebook and I do not spend enough time on Twitter. Reading is my favorite past time but bad reality shows are my guilty pleasure. Here, I blog about parenting, businesses and their successes, and innovation.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Turning 34 is Not So Bad

I had a birthday on Sunday which marked me being Randi's daughter for thirty-four years.  I did nothing special.  My husband bought me shoes and the kids gave me Happy Birthday serenades.  Although it seemed like a pretty ordinary day, I noticed a perk in my step.  Cooking dinner was no problem.  Kids wrestling and running through the house did not bother me. Every TV we own turned to Disney XD was no bother either (I guess the kids were making sure they could catch pieces of their shows as they scrambled through the house). I was telling friend how I had this certain perkiness about me and during that conversation I believe I realized it was because I am on a path to doing what I want to do with my life.
 
I used to have reflection and new goals on the blog whenever milestones happened.  When life changes, goals change as well.  Now is as great a time to project new goals and restart a new tradition.
1.    Finish grad school – May 2014, whew! I see the light
2.    Began freelance writing - specifically topics pertaining to community/economic development (I’ll have a masters catered – see #1) , business, careers, marketing and obviously parenting.  So if you need web or article content, I am available for hire. I would also like to guest post for other blogs.
3.    Obtain certification in the Community and Economic Development field.
4.    Take this blog to the next level – I have many blog idols. 
5.    Help my children define income streams of their own.  I want to teach about money and entrepreneurship.
6.    Be a better wife and mother in God’s eyes.
7.    Help my son attain his sports dreams.
8.    Write a book.
This is what is currently on my plate and all can conquered. Since the New Year is coming up, I am sure you have some outlook and reflection on your horizon.  What are your goals?
 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Dealing with Family During the Holidays

What is it about the holidays that make it hard to deal with family?  Here we are the day before the Thanksgiving and I have already heard two stories about family members are mad at each other.  One was over a pan of dressing and the other was over a crockpot. We should take a step back and ask ourselves if we are really upset over that pan of dressing or a crockpot or if we are living in a false realty. 

During this time of year there can be an extreme amount of pressure to make everything perfect, including our family.  It's completely understandable why we strive for perfection with the Hallmark channel showing sappy Christmas movies since Halloween turned the corner.  There is commercial after commercial showing families sitting around a table laughing, looking flawless and eating the perfect meal.  Our psyche is constantly being fed that we are imperfect and need to strive for a Walton Family Christmas. When dealing with family for the holidays, our outlook needs to be kept in perspective.  Expectations should be realistic. 

 

 photo credit: www.someecards.com
 

Expectations of others need to be at a minimum.  Everyone is trying hard to please others.  If they overlook you and your needs, give them a pass.  Remember, it is a time for sharing, forgiving and loving.  Plus, it just isn't the time bring up the fact that you and your family member should have gone to counseling years ago because "said person" actually does not meet your expectations anytime of the year. 

 Expectations of you need to be at a minimum, too.  You cannot do it all.  You cannot buy, cook, visit or help everyone.  Keep tasks at a minimum in order to enjoy the holidays. Running around trying to be everybody's somebody will wear you out and make you the least favorite person at the holiday party because your energy level is 0.

Finally, don't give others the impression you can do it all.  People will take advantage of you and they will not have any shame in doing so.  When in the company of your family, talk about how simple your holidays are going to be.  Your hints will give them the idea that you are not the "go-to" person this year. The word "NO" needs to be a regular part of your holiday vocabulary.  If it seems harsh when relaying it to someone else, just follow it up with how simple your holidays are going to be and that would hinder your goals.  Invite your family members to join in your idea of simple a holiday season.  It may be a winner among the rest of your loved ones.

Dealing with loved ones during the holidays always puts us on edge. Keep it easy going in order to avoid the argument over the pan of dressing or the crockpot thrown out in the trash. Put on your duck armor and let the small things roll off your back.  Enjoy the time you have with your loved ones and forget about the perfect memories.  Just make your memories, true.

 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Getting Your New Business Right for the New Year

Halloween is past and Thanksgiving is right around the corner.  And Christmas will be here before we know it.  It’s getting close to a new year which means I am getting close to the end of my graduate program.  The end of one life event and the beginning of another often prompts reflection.   I believe there is motivation in reflection.   If you haven’t gotten around to what you feel like you should be doing by now, don't sweat it.  I tell my children every night, if there is something about this day you did not like, you'll get a chance to do it over tomorrow.  Many will decide that the big step into entrepreneurship is what they want for themselves. There will be new business owners in 2014.  Maybe you or someone you know will need some tips.  Here’s how to be a “small business super star“ with your start-up during the beginning phase of your business:

1.     Plan to fail.  Yes, expect failure.  You can have a business plan, marketing plan and even an emergency plan, yet failure will creep up on you.  Stuff happens.  When failure appears, this is the opportune time to see what you as the business owner are made of.  Will you stick you head between your legs and shy away?  You better not! This is what your naysayers are waiting on.  The haters will be in full effect when you open your business. They will be waiting on your fall.   However, failure is not bad.  It’s how you handle failure that will determine if you are the rock star business owner you aim to be.  Keep your head up, shoulders straight, and move forward. 

2.     Develop a business alter-ego.  When BeyoncĂ© walks on stage, she becomes Sasha.  We stop and we give Sasha the attention she commands.  Everyone needs to know that you are serious about this your new adventure.  You cannot give away your product for free to Aunt Sally or your cousin Gina.  Being “nice Natalie” does not turn a profit, but “Decisive Debbie” gets the job done. Don’t be a push-over. If you don’t respect your business, neither will anyone else.    

3.     Get Social. You need to socialize every chance and everywhere you can. Get involved with the chamber of commerce, the local library, churches, charities and make friends with other business owners. Build an online community, as well. Respond to your customers or clients in all media forms.  Don’t be scared of how technology can keep you close to your customers or clients. Your company’s presence should be easily felt, seen and heard.  Your clientele needs to know you care about your community by seeing you involved in it. 

4.    Give the red carpet treatment.  It does not cost money to provide stellar customer service.  It can be as simple a quirky “thank you” given each and every time a customer or client visits your business or that special thank card slipped in each shipment. This will keep them coming back and making referrals.  When you visit businesses, start paying attention to how they handle customer service.  Decide how it could be better and implement that in your business.  Go out of the way for your customers or clients.  It will be worth it in the end.

5.     Get your money right.  Kanye West said it best – Wait ‘til I get my money right.  It would not be smart to start a business and your financial affairs are in an uproar.  This means that if you don’t know how you are going to pay for the first month’s lease payment on your store, then you might need to wait until you have the cash to invest in your dream.  Once you have the cash that is necessary to make your vision a reality, it is still necessary to know your next financial step.  Always, stay ahead by making moves with your next financial step while executing the current one.

These are among a few tips that will help you with your next phase of life as small business owner. Keep in mind that it will be hard, but nothing worth having is always easy. 

So now that I have given you that push, what are you waiting for?  Get busy! January 1st is right around the corner. 

 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Spooktacular Halloween Family Fun!                                                                             

Guest post by a friend - Kendra Thorton 

https://twitter.com/KendraThornton


It might be hard to believe, but it is already that special time of year when delicious treats are in abundance as well as lattes that feature flavors like pumpkin spice. Besides this, there are cornucopias wherever you decide you go. The fact is that one my favorite seasons of the year is Halloween. After all, the Halloween season has so many fun activities for my family to enjoy and there are plenty of tasty foods in which to delight for the children and myself!   


My children like to create their own Halloween costumes, but at the same time, they prefer some assistance with this endeavor. In addition to this, we work together in making delicious foods such as apple crisp, which has always been one of their favorites.

As they are out and about on Halloween night in trick or treating, I make sure they have a delicious treat when they come home such as some warm apple cider or some delicious pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, which is always in popular demand. When my children get home, there is much time spent by making trades with each other in terms of the candy they have and the candy that they want! Since I make it a point to go through their candy and treats before my children make their infamous candy trades, it really does not bother me. What does concern me is an opened or homemade candy that is brought to our house. It is truly priceless to see how my kids organize and trade the candy that they have acquired from a successful night of trick or treating.

 As of this year, my kids and I will be spending time in my hometown of Chicago celebrating Halloween. I am waiting with anticipation for this delightful experience. At the same time, there have been previous years where my children and I have not stayed in our humble home. In fact, on a trip to the city of Orlando during Halloween not too long ago, we stayed in a hotel. I do understand that my children were not very enthusiastic about these accommodations on Halloween night, but I did have a plan in what to do to make it a fun experience for them. To begin our Halloween experience in Orlando, we started by decorating some of our pillow cases that we brought from home. We decided to design each case after various Halloween themes. Our experienced continued with my children going around various places in the hotel wearing their costumes that we designed together.


To assist with my plans, I found Gogobot.com’s Family Traveler’s tribe quite helpful for this endeavor with the helpful ideas and suggestions that I received. I followed some of the advice and the result was truly warming. Guests in the hotel were extremely kind and gave Halloween candy as well as treats to all of my children. Believe it or not, we were able to go from room to room in search for Halloween treats for the kids and it went really well. Our time in Orlando was certainly a distinct and memorable experience for that year. At the same time, is created a memory that I will treasure for the rest of my life and I believe that my kids will treasure the experience also.


 


I am thrilled that I can celebrate Halloween 2013 this fall. The main reason for my excitement is the fact that I will be having some family over to my home for a visit. This delightful fact means that I will be looking for some new and terrific treats and goodies in which to serve my special guests. As I look for new delicious dishes and tasty treats, I have found that Pinterest is a fantastic resource in which I find what I am looking for and so much more! How about you? What seasonal holiday do you enjoy to celebrate?

 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Stay-at-Home Mom

About a few weeks ago my six year old and I were in the car having a conversation about what I do. I immediately assumed he meant what kind of job do I have. I guess he realized he had not been by mommy's office to wait on me to finish up a project or send a quick email after I picked him up from school or how I haven't closed my bedroom door in the evening after we get home to get some work caught up.

My kids see what my husband does for a living. He owns a business and when someone or something goes wrong, he has to go fix it. He's the boss. He’s had much more flexible time than I because he’s his own boss but there are still customers to satisfy. Needless to say, my husband works crazy hours.


I reminded my six year old that I was in school full time and staying at home to continue education and making his life much more easy at home. Words have to be chosen carefully when talking to a six year old. I had to say 'continuing college' because he believes that I completed college which I did and earned a bachelor's degree - years ago. I have been slowly having the conversation with him about how you can go to school and continue to learn. Learning is ongoing is what I always tell my kids.


So, that conversation brings me to my thoughts on staying at home versus working outside the home. There are trade offs to each. Some good, some bad. Either could be viewed differently depending on your home situation or your finances.


Time Factor
 
When I worked outside the home I was always in rush. And I mean, ALWAYS. I would hustle the kids out to school in the morning. I felt like every second counted. Every millisecond counted when thinking ahead to the traffic I would get ready to navigate through. Rush, rush. Hurry, hurry. Drink the juice, eat that food. Chew and swallow. Yes, I am guilty of asking them to rush the chewing and swallowing. I was so engulfed in my work that while I should have been talking to them in the car on the way to work and school, I was, instead, checking my email while driving (guilty, again) or sitting in my own silence planning out my day at work. I was a total grump during morning rides in the car. I usually growled at them in the car and suddenly - because I felt like I was supposed to – I’d tell them to have a great day at school when we arrived at their destination. I am sure they thought I was crazy. (I was.) It was a forceful goodbye but only because dropping them off interrupted my work thoughts. You see, I was at work before I ever arrived at the building.


My husband use to pick up my oldest because his school let out later. My youngest school age child went to an after-care program at his school. I worked around the corner from his school but always managed to either pick him up late or barely make it there in time. I would have good intentions on picking him up early but work always held me hostage. By being at home I have time to prepare better meals. We go to bed on time. Everyone is much more rested, me included. (Yes, LAWD!) I was never able to give the kids school work the attention it needed. I made decent money but not enough to pay a tutor and keep up our regular two parent income expenses. I'm so much more involved today.


Look at what my big head and I did together. It may be some ugly cake with flags to you but this was quality time spent together making a model of an animal cell.



When I worked, we use to eat out often. I would call in a to-go order from some restaurant and make sure I had the kids a decent vegetable as one of their sides so I could brush away the guilt of not preparing them a wholesome meal. And forget going on field trips with them or getting by the school to at least have lunch. I was far too busy to do such things. Now, I can do those things without a conscious. I live in a less time-sensitive existence.


Money (Isn't that what we all think it comes down to?)

With my husband and I working, our income was nice. We could afford to eat out, go to a movie, buy things off aisle caps in the stores - the aisle caps still get me. At my last job, my salary was the highest it had been in my working career.  It was good pay but I definitely worked for it. Because my time was limited, I was always spending money. But, it was not much of a worry. At least at the time I didn’t think so. If the kids needed something at school, I'd just go to the bank and get the money to pay for it. Never mind that I realized the “said” need at the last minute or that I could have budgeted better and paid for said need in advance. Let me be the one to tell you that the "Last Minute" mentality is expensive. Many people have it but don't recognize it because they have the money to spend on it or they think they have the money to spend on it.


Gone are the days that we just frivolously spent money. I thought I was budgeting before but now the budget is super tight and I try not to deviate from it. I cook just about every day. This has given a chunk of our family time back to us. Guess what? We, now, talk to eat other - go figure! These kids use to talk to me before (except in the mornings - see paragraph #4) but now it’s on another level.  We may eat out twice a week which consists of a fast food meal (weekday) and a sit down meal at a family eating establishment (Saturdays). This has given us more family time.


We plan dental visits around a budget. No longer are we just scheduling appointments on a whim. We make extreme calculated moves. We plan the kids’ activities around our budget. We are thinking so far ahead to how we will get new floors, make home repairs and even how and when we plan to buy a new house. Sure, I miss the extra money. I miss Starbucks frappes'. I miss quick weekend shopping sprees. I miss spur of the moment weekend activities. But I love my sanity.


When I first became a stay-at-home mom people used to make comments like, "Wish I could do that" or "Must be nice." It used to make me feel uneasy. I never knew how to respond. It sometimes made me feel guilty for my fortunate situation. On Monday one of my friends asked me how was the home life.  My reply, "It is pretty darn good." I have to own this stay-at-home status. Even with all the missed caveats of a career on hiatus, it is pretty darn good. Whatever the next phase in life brings me, I'll have to own that, too.


While, I know I am painting a picture of how it is best to stay at home, please note that is not always my true opinion. It just happens to be my circumstance at this time in my life. I know at some point I must go back to work. Whether that be away from the home is up in the air for now. I know that when I did work, I ROCKED! I also know when I worked, I STRUGGLED. Every time I won, I lost. I was never fully on top and nor was I fully on the bottom. I still have days where I crave the praise of a job well done but for now I'll settle for getting the kids to practice on time.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Creeping Around the Corner

I have been unemployed since May 31st of this year. I have worked a job since it was legal for me to have employment which has been since I was sixteen. Right about now it feels strange to not be earning a paycheck. I am blessed that we can afford to handle this life situation and it is not forced upon us like those affected from furloughs due the 2013 government shutdown. So what has been going on for the past couple of years? Well, to start off, I snagged a job that paid me the most I had ever made when I was employed, I hated that job and then, ultimately, I quit that long-hours-a-day-no-one-cared-about-me-uber-boring-life-sucking-cubicle job. It was just that serious. I have also committed myself to completing grad school in May 2014. In the past few months, I have picked up running, again. Running makes me feel good. The OWN Network (Oprah's TV Network for those of you living under a rock) is still on TV and I am still enjoying it. I have a 12 year old, 6 year old and a 2 year old. I am still married and live in the same house. Blah, blah blah…. Now back to the unemployed part. I really miss earning a paycheck and having regular money to spend. I don’t miss the daily grind or the rat race. I talk to my friends about their work life and I am relieved that right now I am unemployed. Whew! Now that I am unemployed I have been more conscious about my spending habits. I thought I was a nitpicker about expenses but now that I live in a one income household, I realized that before I really wasn't as conscious as I thought. Truth be told, we could all be a little more discipline in our spending habits. Right now, I am on my way to seeking happiness without being a slave to the paycheck. I am in paycheck rehab at this current moment, looking for other income streams. That's not so say that I may not get a job in the future but if I can help it, I won't. Since I'll have a master's degree, I plan to look into teaching some college courses at a local 2-year school. We’ll see. Since being at home, I have had some time to know what I'd like to do and that is to write. That is the main reason of why I am blogging today. I miss it. What I do know is that the more I write the better I should get. So bear with me for the time being as I transition my blog into something better. I know I love to read about small business success, community success, parenting, marriage, and innovation. So maybe you will see more post from me about these subjects so that those of you who like reading about the same topics can get my view on them as well. For now let's just roll with the punches. The only promise I can make is that I will be writing.

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