My first vendor event was a smashing success!

Thank you to my friend Heidi for all her table design guidance last week (and coming down to check on me and talk up LipSense to passersby), my amazing upline (and the rest of the team across the country!) for dealing with my total crazy as I prepped for this, and my awesome hubby for his unending support in every possible sense. I couldn’t have done this without all of you! 💕 It was tiring but fun… I won’t be doing these every weekend but I’ll definitely do more!

After being up at 5:30 and setting up from 7:30-9…Let’s do this! (Oh and did I mention that Tom had to work at his office today so he couldn’t help at all plus had to take the kids with him?!)

 

Some info and takeaways from my day:

💋I am a bit anal plus I’m a perfectionist so I spent probably 50-60 hours prepping the table (design elements, printing stuff myself, REprinting stuff 😂, shopping for inexpensive stuff that can do double duty in my home)… But I think it turned out pretty well! I was definitely the most professional-looking booth in my immediate area!

💋Everyone loved my lips (Blu Red and Blackberry). I think I went through more gloss than I normally do in a week—every demo I did I literally dragged my fingers across my lips and face. 😂

💋The Dum Dums with my business info stuck on them were a fail. The stickers didn’t stick to the waxy sticks and were all falling off and not one person took one. I couldn’t even give them away to kids!

💋The very first customer wanted to see a lipliner. It was my fault for handing it to her… So let’s just say I now have a tester. 😂 But she did end up buying two colors and gloss–and might have a party. (She also came back later in the day with a cracked gold glitter gloss so now I have my very first RMA!) 

💋 I didn’t realize until about halfway through that I didn’t have a Honey Rose or Hazelnut tester out! [Two recent new colors.]

💋 I had ShadowSense stripes on my arm from my own personal stock which I didn’t bring. A handful of people wanted to see them but I only had one color out so people could see the cream to powder action. 

💋I really could have used a LipSense Buddy. I know I lost a lot of people because it took so long to explain and demo with people that I couldn’t snag people as they walked by. A friend (Heidi) who was at a different booth would stop by when she could and whenever she was there taking up LipSense it went better (she’s a big fan). I was also bummed I didn’t get to check out the other vendors. They did have volunteers who would sit at your booth while you took a break but I didn’t feel like just anyone could handle my booth—if I wasn’t there to reel them in, they’d likely pass right by. 

💋 I took my laptop thinking I’d have time to enter each sale. Ha. Haha. Hahaha. 

💋I could have left the beauty stuff off the table entirely. Not one person asked about it. I definitely didn’t need my own out for testers. (But if I didn’t have them, someone would surely have wanted to test something, right?)

💋The QR code was a fail. I thought it would be easy to snap for business info but only one person all day did it. People still wanted business cards. (I had seen it recommended to use because people were more likely to “see” it again on their phone vs. a business card which would likely get tossed.) Next time I will just have a big contact info sheet that they can take action picture of.

💋I didn’t give away too many glossy samples because pretty much everyone who tried it on their lips bought their own color and gloss. 

💋 The raffle for a free gloss went pretty well. I got 19 entries. Two wanted to host a party and four marked that they wanted to learn about/buy other products. Now we wait and see if they return my emails. 

💋 My biggest sellers were Napa and Sheer Berry. I managed to sell more Ooops! today then I did since I starting selling. 😂 I think it’s a much easier sell when they demo it and see how easy it is to make a mistake. 

💋 I was prepared with $150 in cash but only one person paid with cash!

💋 Being on my feet the whole day was rough on my back. I was busy most of the six hours so never really had time to sit down—and even when it was calm I wanted to be ready to easily interact with people and I couldn’t do that from a chair. If I did have a chair I’d want a director’s chair. 

💋The collapsible wagon from Sam’s Club was amazing. It fit my big heavy duty totes perfectly. (If I begin to do more shows, I would like to organize my totes better so everything fits.)

💋I will eventually get a real banner but I was going inexpensive for my first show.) And I will have some small tweaks to do before my next event (like bigger lip pics with more true colors—everyone looked at those).

All in all it was a great day. I didn’t make a ton of money but I went into it expecting to sell nothing and just being there for the experience so anything above that was a bonus! 😂 After both raffle items (the one on my table and the one I donated to the fundraiser), I think I made $200 (better then nothing and my upline was proud!)!

Fall into LipSense!

🙌🏻 IT’S A NEW MONTH! And also a new city! New house! New friends! New challenges! New season! New goals! And new (temporary) banners!

I’m sure most of you know I don’t really like change so the past three months have been challenging to say the least. But this month I’m ramping it up and jumping in feet first so I can ROCK this business. But I can’t do it alone…

🚌 Can you help me be successful and grow my business so I can continue to be supportive of my children in their new schools (okay, and also to keep Tom off my back and not to have to get a real job)?? 😂

👍🏻 Getting Lippy with Jen now has a public Page! I’d really appreciate if you could throw a Like or Share my way to help promote my business and keep me working from home. Pretty pretty please with sugar on it (as Katie would say)?

https://m.facebook.com/gettinglippywithjen

Gurnee, we are in you. 

  1. Gurnee, we are in you. 
  2. There’s nothing like a 13-hour road trip to remind you that douchebag drivers exist everywhere. It’s a good thing the kids weren’t in my car. 
  3. The house…is a house. It certainly doesn’t compare to the house we just left and there’s lots of stuff we need to do to bring it to our standards (i.e. what I can stand to look at and deal with for three years) but it does have natural light going for it. 
  4. I can see me visiting Chicago much like I visited DC…which is probably close to never. And DC even had all the free stuff going for it. 
  5. I am exhausted and cranky so take everything I say with a grain of salt. 😂
  6. My brain can’t handle Central time yet.

Selling? Me? What? Huh? What’s happening?

So I have BIG news!!! I am doing something I’ve never even remotely considered before in my entire life…

It turns out I loved the LipSense lipstick SOOO much (and have, um, *cough cough* ordered so much) that I figured I might as well just become a distributor!! I know a few of my friends are saying IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME!!

So, some quick background on how I got to this point… 

Back in February I was cleaning out my bathroom drawers and decided that all my lipsticks were too old (like, seriously, most were at least five years old and some were 10+ years old!) and it was time for something new. I also figured the science/technology had likely changed and there was surely something better these days. Enter my online friend Sara (well, we’ve met in person, but she started as an online friend). She was selling this cool lipstick called LipSense and I decided to try one color. That was February 23. I wasn’t in love with the color but I loved the product and immediately scheduled a party with her, which meant I’d invite my friends so they could order and then I’d get a big discount on my own order. That was March 19. During the party and right after, Sara strongly suggested I become a distributor—saying just from my party orders alone I’d have made money plus it was likely there would be repeat customers. Nope, not happening. Then as a friend placed a second order, Sara said “Are you sure?! Look at it like a Costco membership—you pay $55 to get an automatic 20% discount on anything. And if you happen to sell more to friends, that’s cool.” But I didn’t think I’d need that much more and besides, I don’t sell things. So nope, not happening.

But this was happening:

Then I bought something on eBay that I couldn’t get from her and on April 10 I was ordering some more from her and once again, Sara suggested joining. Nope, thanks but no thanks, still not happening.

But by April 22 I had changed my tune. Why? Well, when I realized that Tom was really quite serious about me going back to work when Katie starts Kindergarten this fall…I knew I had to do something. Something serious. :lol: And since I had fallen in love with this stuff over the past few months—I mean, I’ve worn lipstick more in the past two months than in the past five years—I figured why not be brave and try something new? I’m always telling my kids to be brave…so now it’s my turn! But it just took me awhile to make the leap because A) I am scared of change, B) I am inherently lazy, C) I hate selling, and D) I am scared of failure.

But as I’ve discussed with Sara, worst case scenario, I hate it and want to stop everything after X months—and in that case, I simply sell off my stock to other distributors (technically you can sell back to the company but the distributors would rather have it). Mid-level case? I sell to my friends and make some extra money every month. Best case? I am a freaking whiz at this and end up signing up a bunch of people to sell under me and I earn commissions on their sales as well. Honestly, I’m setting the bar low: I’m looking to make back what I’ve spent on my own stash thus far. After that, I’d be happy with even $100 a month. Anything more than that is gravy. And what’s best? Tom is behind me 100%. 

So here we are, almost two months to the day from when I ordered my first color.

  • I have paid my membership fee.
  • I have the financials in order (separate checking account and credit card).
  • I am getting the invoicing, payment, and backend ready (you should see the spreadsheet—holy wah!).
  • I am ordering packaging and shipping supplies.
  • I am prepping to make fun treats (mini lipstick remover and lip scrub jars) to include with orders.
  • I am getting ready to place my first order May 1 (and hoping lots of stuff comes back in stock).
  • I got my new Facebook Group page Getting Lippy with Jen up and running tonight! (I bounced a few name ideas off my mentor and this was the one she liked the most! It’s different than most other group names AND it fits my personality!)

So, it shall be interesting! If you’d like to join me on this crazy journey or just come and see what it’s all about (or maybe even just watch while I crash and burn!), come join! And if you just want to see how cool LipSense is, check out this video (also posted on my Facebook group).

It’s official: we’re headed to Chicago!

Well, what can I say about the military other than you just never know what’s going to happen…?!

For the past few months we’ve been thinking we’ll be headed to California. Tom’s top two job choices were there and we haven’t been on that coast yet, so we thought it was all set. It was a catch-22 for me—I know I would love the weather but it was SOOO far from family. It’s hella expensive there…but when else are we going to get the chance to test living there for three years? But I had honestly just started to wrap my head around it and get kind of excited about it…when Tom got an URGENT email from the monitor with text that included “Ignore this message at your own peril.” Yeah, that’s never good.

Turns out they need recruiters AGAIN. And he fits the four-point requirements perfectly (correct rank, summer mover, previous excellent record in recruiting, etc.). And the positions are in the Chicago area, Pennsylvania, San Diego, and Parris Island, South Carolina.

Crap.

So long story short…after calling and talking to the monitor, they had eight people and six positions to fill. Which wasn’t quite the odds we were hoping for. But good news, Tom was the first to respond so he’d likely get his top choice (and at the very least, he wouldn’t get the place he did NOT want). So…our top choice was Chicago (to be closer to family), followed by Pennsylvania and California.

Of course, it wasn’t an immediate done deal. They had to check some other things and yada yada yada they told us we would know by the end of January if he would be doing recruiting or if we’d be back to waiting to hear on our previous California options. Then I think it was only like four days until they said he was officially tapped for the recruiting in Chicago (well, technically Great Lakes Naval Station).

And they already have his web orders completed so this is serious.

So, yuck for weather…but yay for being 7 hours from Papa and Grannie and 6 hours from Gramma Jean and Grandpa David.

Recording my Naturally Slim testimonial!

First and foremost, I finally got to meet Bryan! I’ve “known” him online for about 10 years on the Tivo forums but we’ve never actually met. Come to find out last year—long story short—he lost 140 pounds on Naturally Slim and has kept it off for three years now. He was one of the two people who were initially responsible for me joining NS. :)

Bryan befire and after Naturally Slim

He is a videographer/producer by trade (617 Production Group) and had been doing the videos for the program and after many years he had an AHA moment and never looked back. His company no longer does the official program videos but Marcia does call him in for stuff like this. And especially for my testimonial since I know him!

We were recording it at Bryan’s church because it was the most convenient place. The sun was in my eyes…

…so this is apparently my look as I’m figuring out if this new spot will work.

Getting ready to start!

A pic Bryan snapped during the filming.

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The whole thing was just…odd. And surreal.

First, even though Marcia was asking me questions, you won’t ever hear her asking them…so you have to rephrase/include the question in your answer. So if she asks “What was the easiest thing about Naturally Slim?” you’d have to start your response with “The easiest thing about Naturally Slim…” Of course, not every question led to a response that was that easy to formulate and I often had to take a moment to think how I was going to respond to get the question in. The good thing (which took some getting used to) is knowing that it will all be cut and edited for the best sound bite, so even though everything was recording, it won’t all be used. That was also helpful when I was answering a question, yakking on and on, and then suddenly losing my train of thought or realizing I had veered violently away from where I’d been headed with my answer and I would just stop and say “Yeah, that’s it. I lost it.” Marcia had told me to just pretend I was having a conversation with her, but honestly, it’s a lot harder to answer questions when you know someone is counting on you to give sound bite answers. That said, every so often as I answered a question, I’d see Marcia do a mini fist pump showing she loved my response. After one (which I don’t even remember what I was talking about), she said she really wanted to use it at the end of week one! So who knows, maybe I’ll actually be in the official videos!!

Second—and I touched on this above—is that I often veered totally off course as I was answering a question. I remember a time or two when I’d be talking and talking and then suddenly I was also thinking “Wait, that is NOT anything related to what they asked.” I would ask if they wanted me to start again or try another take and the answer was generally no, because even if I didn’t answer the specific question, there was still usable sections or they liked the direction I went. I did have to retell a story once because I mentioned IKEA and they said I couldn’t say that just in case a competitor ever used the program. So then I worried about telling the story again and hoping I got all the same excitement and inflections…and who knows if I did or not. Time will tell.

Overall they said it went very well—even though I felt I was completely ridiculous and out of my element—and we talked for about 30-40 minutes. I know Bryan’s company can work magic, but I am still crossing my fingers that I come off natural.

Afterwards, I asked Marcia and Bryan who wanted to get in my pants. :) Seriously—I had brought my FAT PANTS and had thought it would be fun to get two people into the one pair of pants. (This did not surprise them—they had both been forewarned.) Marcia is SUCH a good sport and agreed to do it. First, though, Bryan recorded a snippet of me trying on the pants, so hopefully I’ll get to see that in the end. And then this happened…they were stretched out a bit more than when I actually wore them, but STILL. Two of us in one pair of pants. Good times. Again, SUCH a good sport.

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I have no idea when I will see a finished product, but you know I will let everyone know as soon as I see something. And don’t get your hopes up that it will be a 20-minute piece. It is likely to be a 20-second snippet here or there in a compilation of other testimonials. Fingers crossed!!

The live Facebook Q&A with Naturally Slim!

So the Live Facebook event was actually going to take place at the combined offices of Holmes Murphy and ACAP Health, both new partners of Naturally Slim. I was VERY anxious about the event, but Marcia assured me I would do just fine. I was put a little more at ease when she told me it would only be about 20 minutes long—I had thought it would be an hour or something! Phew!

We got there early and Marcia showed me around the offices and introduced to many, many people…most of whom were all like “Oh, wow! I know you! You’re Jennifer Hudson! I recognize you!” It was VERY surreal. They were just as excited to meet me as I was to meet them! The offices were super fun and trendy, with named meeting rooms like the Vineyard (with a wall of bookcases and wine racks) and the Bead Room, which is where we ended up filming—yes, a “room” in the middle of the office space with floor-to-ceiling hanging beads encircling four chairs and a table!

Getting ready to start!

Our view during the event:

And then we were off and running…

Live Q&A with Marcia Upson, President of Naturally Slim
[iOS users, if Safari isn’t showing the Facebook video below, try Chrome]

And suddenly it was over! What?! Already?! Wow that went fast! I had a lot of fun and the time just flew by—I probably could have answered questions for an hour! Of course watching the video later I noticed things I didn’t like (like my roll of belly fat and a few strange looks I made) but overall I think I did pretty well!

And then on the way out, I got to meet Todd (Todd Whitthorne, President, ACAP Health—he’s in quite a few of the program videos)!! And just like Marcia, he was just the same as in the videos, too. And boy was he tall (I’m 5’9″ and you see how he towers over me)! :)

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What a memorable way to spend my 43rd birthday!!

I’m finally normal…BMI!!

I DID IT!! I finally reached my goal of normal BMI (the top end of which is 169)!  I know you all know by now but I have to say it again: I couldn’t have done it without Naturally Slim!!

Oops! That’s hard to see on that background…so off to the garage!

And then I didn’t want to wear that out and about so changed into a new shirt (with my new jeans from the other day).

And the collage I posted online…and Naturally Slim shared!

Now I have to see if my body thinks it should lose another 15 or so so I can claim that I lost half my body weight! :)

132 pounds in 365 days!

One year ago today at my highest weight ever, I crossed my fingers and started my attempt to lose weight doing low-carb (the only thing I really knew). Little did I know at the time I’d find my way to Naturally Slim and would end up successfully losing 132 lbs. (thus far—with a few more still to go)! If you’d told me a year ago I’d have lost that much I’d have said you were insane.

I can’t begin to thank everyone who has supported me along the way, but top shout outs go to Tivo friend Brad Nelson (who started the thread on Naturally Slim), Tivo friend Bryan McCullough (who turned out to be THE Naturally Slim guru), and my amazing husband (who supported me every hour of every day—and even joined in).

I owe my life to this program (and these people!) and I’m beyond thankful every. single. day. that I have a new, thinner, and healthier lease on life!! ❤️ 😀 🎉 👏🏻 🍾

100! 100! 100!

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ME!

I DID IT! My first big goal—100 pounds—is complete! After “restarting” the program after not losing anything over the holidays, I busted my butt and lost 6.6# this past week and this happened at today’s weigh-in!

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I really wanted to make my goal by the end of the year, and I think this is pretty damn close! And since I’m technically still Obese, now it’s time for the next 30-40!!!

My 15 minutes of fame?!

Do you recognize anyone on Naturally Slim’s Facebook page? :)

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A week or so ago I Tweeted my current results (81# lost after 26 weeks) and today they Liked it, retweeted it, and messaged me to ask if they could use it on their other social media accounts as inspiration for others. Of course I said YES! A little while later, it appeared on their Facebook page!

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Of course, I’m completely embarrassed that my bedroom is such a hot mess in the Before photos…but I’m hoping that the After photos take people’s eye’s away. :)

Unfortunately we’re not going home for a fun visit.

For about three weeks now, we’ve known that Tom’s mom’s cancer had spread to her liver…but she was dealing with it…and the prognosis, while not great, still gave us hope. Unfortunately, I just don’t think her heart was in it. She didn’t want to deal with chemo the last time around and was glad when she didn’t have to do it. So when she learned that was in her future this time…

Tom got a call from his brother last night that she had fallen and was taken to the ER. The doctors seemed to think that she would rebound once they re-hydrated her but Tom wanted to head up anyway so he left Saturday morning. Unfortunately, about four hours in to the drive he got the call that she had died. So he turned around to come get us and we will all leave for Michigan tomorrow morning.

A second ride on the autism train?

Well, we may be on the autism train again.

Because Owen is still having (to me) major food issues, I wanted to make sure there was nothing else going on. Yes, he could just be a very picky eater…but I would be wracked with guilt if something else was going on and my new food rules were creating more problems than I was trying to solve. (I still feel guilty about the whole pooping thing back before we learned he had a serious issue and I don’t want the same thing to happen with food.)

So I got a referral to see a Developmental Pediatrician again (the same type of doctor we saw at Lejeune who diagnosed him with autism) and crossed my fingers she’d just say “Oh yes, it sounds like he has eating issues, here’s a referral for therapy.” Ha. I should have known better. :)

Of course she had to do the whole background history, and during that discovery period, a few random other issues came out. They’re things that he’s always had/done that he hasn’t yet grown out of…which led her to think he might have ADD…or possibly autism. Sigh.

But that said, considering everything we discussed, she thinks he’s absolutely thriving and I’m doing everything right (in regards to meal times and food) so there’s no immediate concern. But she does want him to see an audiologist for a real hearing assessment (he still covers his ears with loud/annoying noises which she said should not happen anymore at his age), start OT for the food (and pooping) issues, and see a geneticist again (genetics has come a very long way since we got his results in 2012 and the doctor could potentially see something now that we didn’t see before—and we might get additional genetic testing done). The results of those appointments will determine if we go forward with actual autism testing.

She’s not worried but wants to cover all the bases. If it’s determined he can benefit from additional therapy, we will go through with the testing and an autism diagnosis will allow us access to tens of thousands of dollars in free therapy since it’s covered under Tricare. (This is the same therapy we qualified for the first time but we never went ahead with it because neither of us were convinced he REALLY needed it—especially compared to all the other SERIOUSLY autistic kids out there.) And she agreed that was an okay decision, but also told us that if there’s something we can fix NOW, it’s better to do it while he’s young, rather than wait and decide when he’s 10-12-14 and he could be MUCH more defiant and MUCH harder to work with. (Basically, young kids are much more pliable.) :)

She did a few tests with him and agreed that overall he was doing very well. But interestingly, one of the tests she did (I think it was having him repeat full sentences back to her) she said he tested at about an age 4 level. That really surprised me because I had been listening and I thought he did okay. However, I think it was more a point of him (not) paying attention—he started to fiddle with a crayon and wasn’t listening closely (hence the thought of ADD). She said he could very likely be extremely smart and his brain is just racing…and it’s hard to stop and focus because he’s already on to something else. (And actually, conversely, when he has laser-like concentration on something and spends too much time trying to be perfect.) I said that sounds like Owen on a regular basis.

I really liked her and feel comfortable with her so I feel okay. Of course it’s still a shock to think we might get an autism diagnosis again…but her main thought was that if he’s doing well and we expect (and get) good things from him, we’re on the right course.

The best part of the appointment? She asked him what his absolute VERY most favorite thing to do was. Of course, I was positive it would be Legos. But his immediate response? As in he literally didn’t even think for three seconds? “I like to go to school.” :)

So now I have to wait a few days to call and schedule the three appointments. Stay tuned!

I can’t believe we own a minivan. A MINIVAN.

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But of course it wasn’t easy. :)

Tom went for the test drive at 8:30am and long story short, that one wasn’t the car. So I was researching cars at home and texting him info—the dealership had a few other Siennas on the lot so he was test driving those as well. In the end, we decided that we were going back to a FWD instead of an AWD because there were a lot more 2012 FWD cars available to choose from. (We’d still have preferred AWD, but figured for the few times we’d really need it—the few times it snows that bad here, I just don’t go anywhere and for the once every year or two that we go to Michigan in the winter—it just wasn’t worth it to spend the extra money.)

On a whim, I had Tom look at a 2014 because, well, why not? A 2012 was cheaper, obviously, but it was already four years old. There happened to be a 2014—loaded, even!—for CHEAPER than the one we had looked at (and had been interested in) last night! And Tom said it was REALLY nice. And it had super low miles—about 6,700! (The lady had bought it new and decided she wanted an AWD!)

There were no crazy addon fees so out the door (and with our trade-in) it was still less than the 2012 we walked out on! YAY!

After a family test drive back to the dealer (they royally screwed up our address so had to redo the paperwork plus we had to give them the second key and pick up our floor mats), these are the major bonuses we’ve noticed thus far:

  1. I don’t have to duck to get in the car. Plus? The driver’s seat AUTOMATICALLY reverses when you turn the car off to allow more room to exit (and then renter). It freaked me out the first few times and I thought it was stupid. Now I love it.
  2. Maybe most importantly—and one of my absolute requirements for the new car—was the rear backup sensors/alerts (the Acadia had them and the Mazda didn’t and it drove me insane since I’m horrible at backing up). The Sienna has front, rear, AND side sensors—and they’re amazing!! (Of course it also has the parking assist lines which are cool but will take some getting used to.)
  3. The lift gate opens more easily via the remote…AND you don’t have to unlock it first! (I was used to that with the Acadia then the Mazda didn’t do it and it frustrated me endlessly!)
  4. The doors automatically unlock and lock more easily with the smart remote (the Mazda was a crapshoot if it would work nicely or at all).
  5. There’s a button to fold in the side mirrors. What what?! As someone who can’t judge distances well and is paranoid about hitting the mirrors at drive-up windows—and as such usually ends up having to open the door to reach—this is a total win. :D
  6. The bluetooth sync works much, much better. In the Mazda, it seemed like my phone rarely automatically connected and you could either listen to XM or your phones’ directions but not both at the same time (but sometimes it would work…?!). This car does it seamlessly and perfectly. I was also able to transfer ALL my contacts to the car in about 30 seconds with one button press.
  7. The navigation is amazingly better. It’s not just newer with better map info, but it has more POIs and it’s much quicker to find something. It’s not perfect but I know I’ll use it more than we did the Mazda.
  8. The kids are BIG fans of the DVD player.
  9. The floor protector we had for the Highlander—that we moved to the Acadia and then the Mazda even though it wasn’t a good fit—fits nicely (even though it’s the wrong color).

The only meh thing so far is there’s no good place for my magnetic phone mount. I haven’t tried the CD changer spot yet (which was recommended for the Mazda and worked well) because I don’t think I want to cover up the touch screen this time. It fits in the slide out cup holder, but it’s too low to be useful for navigation. But that’s minor.

So overall we’re very happy. Of course we don’t like the bigger payment (we’re back up to what we were paying before we downsized to the Mazda) but it is what it is. :)

No school, the Pentagon, and an award!

Tom was scheduled to receive an award at work (the Meritorious Service Medal) and we had decided we would ALL go, which meant taking Owen out of school. Since Tom knew he’d get the rest of the day off, we decided to make a special day of it and do something really worthwhile of missing school—take the kids to Baltimore to the National Aquarium!

A family selfie before we headed out:

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Thank heavens for the HOV express lane—this was the standstill traffic on the way into DC (well worth the few bucks it cost us):

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Then we had about a 3/4 mile walk in to the Pentagon from the parking lot. Yeesh—Tom has to do that twice a day. Tom was obviously already cleared, but the rest of us had to go through a metal detector and get wanded. Then once we were inside the Pentagon, we had to walk clear to the other side. With my horrid sense of direction, there’s absolutely NO way I would not get lost if I was on my own.

I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. :) There were lots of wide open hallways and empty corridors with nondescript doors and exiting one ring to cross a “street” to get to the next ring. And while logically I know the Pentagon is HUGE, it didn’t seem as huge as I thought it would (if that makes sense).

And then we were in his office. No windows in the whole thing, of course, and a tiny cubicle:

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Before the award ceremony we had a brief meeting with Tom’s commanding general (the Senior Communications Officer of the entire Marine Corps) where he met me and the kids and had a few get-to-know-each-other minutes. Owen was really great with him and shook his hand and answered questions.

Then it was off to the conference room to wait. The kids had fun checking out the big room and seeing themselves on the big TV:

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And as more and more people filed into the room, Owen got more and more shy and hid behind me the entire time. Katie was shy, too, but at least sat quietly in a chair.

A coworker of Tom’s offered to take pictures so I wouldn’t have to worry about it so that was nice (even though I hated to give up control).

The general welcomed everyone and jokingly asked what time people were thinking of leaving and there was a pregnant pause while no one said anything so I piped up “9:07” (implying we’d be leaving as soon as the award ceremony was over) and everyone laughed and the general said Tom was welcome to leave and go celebrate and everyone else was to leave at noon. :)

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The kids with free reign to run through the halls on the way back to daddy’s office:

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The view as we are leaving Tom’s ring and heading directly across the courtyard to the other side to exit the building and head to the parking lot (this is where it seems much smaller than I thought it would be):

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Letting Owen ride the escalators on our way out (since he loves them so much):

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Then Tom gave us a mini tour of the food court area, some of the shops on that level, and we stopped at the chocolatier for some yummy treats! Then it was the long trek back to the car!

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Then it was an hour’s drive to Baltimore for the next part of our adventure…

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My 2014 year in blogging.

WordPress keeps stats on just about everything and sends a year-end summary. Here are a few interesting facts:

  • This blog was viewed about 17,000 times in 2014.
  • The busiest day of the year was August 24th with 1,007 views.
  • The most popular post that day was We struck gold twice. (interestingly, a post from 2013).
  • In 2014, there were 1,277 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 5,487 posts.
  • My longest streak of posting was 107 days from 17 February — 3 June.
  • Fridays were my most prolific posting days with 212 total posts.
  • Visitors came from 95 countries.
  • The most prolific commenter? My mom with 108. (My friend Tori was in second place with nine.) :)