Saturday, August 5, 2017

I am so ready for the workday to be over

It's 5:15pm and I am so ready for the workday to be over. It's been one of those days. Stress at every turn, difficult coworkers, menial work that feels overwhelming because of the stresses of the workplace. I'm tired, frustrated, and about to go over the edge. But at least it's 5:15pm.

I am unbelievably ready to wrap up what I'm working on, walk out the door, get in the car and drive. Sure, wherever I go will have its own responsibilities with different people to deal with, but with any luck maybe those people will be in a good mood and tonight will end on a relaxing note.

But I can't walk out the door. Because I don't work outside the home anymore. I stay home and homeschool our children. So at 5:15pm, even though I've already been fully on the job for 10 hours, I have at least four more to go, and that's if the kids actually go to bed on time and stay there. More often than not with my three year old lately I'll be looking at another six hours, minimum.

No drive by myself, listening to music to help me unwind. No change of scenery. No heading out to see if the next group of people in my life will be in a better mood. Nope. This is it.

It's been a rough day. Meltdowns, tantrums, tears, yelling, frustration, blatant disobedience and disrespect. All day.

I'm not saying there weren't good moments, because there were. But interspersed throughout the day, all day, many, many times were these moments, these difficult moments. These stressful, frustrating moments. I have yelled more times than I care to admit. It was a hard day.

But I can't pack up my desk and leave, and hope things will be better at home. This is my home, and my workplace. So I have a choice to make.

I can choose to focus on the negative, be a pessimist, and let it bring me down, which will continue to spiral my daughters' adverse behavior, or I can choose to try to see the positive in the day, be an optimist, force a smile on my face, and try to pick my girls up and make their day better. I'm the leader here. It's up to me to at least try to turn things around.

So I gather the supplies for a craft, get everything set up, tell the girls we'll do a craft. They're excited. They love crafts. This will be fun.

After reminding Jena that she needs to follow instructions or the craft won't turn out right, she yells at me that I'm ruining her art by making her follow directions and breaks down in tears because I "ruined" her project.

We take a break, but eventually finish. But no ones very excited about the craft anymore. And I'm starting to wonder why I bother.

Now it's time for dinner. I decide to make a new recipe, but one that is simple and kinda fun and I'm absolutely sure both girls will like. Jena refuses to admit that it's good, instead telling me everything that's wrong with it. But she takes a second helping. And a third.

Sometimes you can't help another person's bad mood. You can try. And especially for the ones you love, and the ones you're living with, you should. But ultimately it is all up to them. They have to decide to look at the bright side for themselves.

Dinner is over. The run baths for each girl in turn. They get into their pajamas, brush their teeth, get into bed.

It is now 11:45pm. Jillian is still awake. She just called me into her room a few minutes ago. The fourth time she's been out of bed, that I know of.

When you're a mom there is no end to your work day. Even when the kids aren't directly demanding my attention, I'm tending to housework, or school planning, or cooking, or pet care, or, or, or... The list goes on and on. And it doesn't matter if you work outside the home or stay home. The only difference is when you work outside the home you get a change of scenery, a break from one set of responsibilities, even if it is quickly replaced with another set.

I've done both. I was a mom who worked outside the home for six years, and now I've been a stay at home / homschooling mom for three years. They are equally demanding, equally stressful, just in different ways. I'm not going to lie, there are days when I think back longingly on my days as a working mom. Days when I have to remind myself how many years I spent wanting this, praying for the opportunity to stay home with my family. Days when I have to remind myself of the stresses of working outside the home. Today was definitely one of those days.

The truth is I miss working outside the home more than I ever thought I would. And while I was never one of those people who thought being a SAHM was an easy job, I definitely underestimated how difficult it can be at times. And then I decided to add homeschooling to the mix, LOL. I had no idea what I was in for! Despite all that, I remain convinced that for our family, at this moment in time, me staying home and homeschooling our children is the absolute best choice for us. I have to remind myself of that at times like today, but it is the truth.

So here's to all you working moms, wherever you call your "office". Keep your focus on what's best for your family, on why you do what you do, and keep on pushing through those hard days. There's a good day right around the corner. Promise.

As always, thanks for checking in.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Small Business Spotlight: Cheap Toilet Tank Lids

Today's Small Business Spotlight features one of the most unique & interesting small businesses I have come across so far: Cheap Toilet Tank Lids.



The company is the brainchild of Tom Herbert, who has been running the company since its inception eight years ago. One question I have wondered since hearing about his company was how in the world he came up with such a unique idea.

Tom tells me:

I was working a sales job for a company during the recession. We sold nurse call systems to assisted living facilities, and during this time everyone cut their budget and I had nothing to do, so the owner of the company put me in charge of finding a replacement toilet tank lid when someone broke one in our office. I looked online, found one for $175, and asked him for the credit card to get it ordered. He said that was a ridiculous price and directed me to a local salvage yard where he had seen a bunch of toilets from the street. I went there, found a tank lid that was close enough for $10, and thought everything was done.

Then I sat at my desk and realized maybe there could be an opportunity to make some extra money selling at a lower price online. I built a website, but didn't own any tank lids. All of the companies I saw online listed the item brand and part number, color, and dimensions. I just simply wrote 'Our inventory is constantly changing, so if you need a tank lid please tell us which one, and if we have it, it is yours for $50'. Someone actually contacted me and needed a Briggs 7421, which I didn't know at the time was the most common tank lid. I bought it from the salvage yard for $10, sold it for $50, and instantly had a profitable business on the first sale.

Necessity, meets inventiveness, meets profit.

Tom's background provided all the knowledge he needed for this new endeavour. Everything, that is, except actual knowledge of toilets. He has a degree in engineering, previous web design experience, and recent experience in the sales industry. Now he just needed to teach himself about toilets. And so he did.

For several months Tom continued the way he began, selling tank lids one at a time as requests came in. And then... an unexpected offer. One day a plumber who was preparing to retire contacted Tom and offered him 1,000 tank lids. Tom borrowed some money from his parents, purchased all 1,000 lids and rented a storage unit. He slowly started learning about these products that he now owned. The more he sold, the more he was able to invest back into his business in the form of advertising. The more he advertised, the more people found Cheap Toilet Tank Lids, and the more he sold.

But who exactly is buying toilet tank lids? A large portion of Tom's customers are renters coming to the end of their lease, and needing to replace a broken toilet tank lid in order to assure the receive their security deposit back at the end of the term. They also see significant sales to restaurants, preschools, and gas stations.


But why do they choose Cheap Toilet Tank Lids? With literally thousands of different tank lids & color options out there, they have most of the possible options on hand, and can manufacture others, making them one of the few vendors able to supply almost every possible need their customers might have. Tom has also become quite the expert on toilets and toilet tank lids, and can usually identify the lid a customer needs just by looking at a picture they send to him. That kind of mastery and customer service sets Cheap Toilet Tank Lids apart from the competition.

Speaking of customer service, Tom wants to pass out this helpful tip for anyone living in an older home and considering a toilet replacement:

A lot of people don't realize if their house is 20 or more years old, the plumbing wasn't designed for the new low flow toilets. A house designed for a 3.5 gallon or more per flush toilet has its pipes angled at less pitch than newer ones. If you are convinced that changing to a low flow toilet is going to save you money and save the environment, consider two things. The new toilet took a lot of resources to be manufactured and transported from Mexico or China or Venezuela to get to you. Using the low flow toilet will cost you money every year when your pipes back up. Sludge will build up in your pipes and the flow will be blocked to the street. You'll need to have a rooter company come and clear the pipes out regularly. It is much more economical and better for the environment to keep an old toilet working as long as possible than to put in a new one. 

The growth of his company has allowed Tom to go from just him, getting toilet tank lids from salvage yards and rummaging thru trash bins after hours to find boxes & bubble wrap for shipping, to having three additional employees, over 8,000 tank lids & 400 tanks on their shelves, and even manufacturing their own when needed to meet their customers' needs. In fact, the porcelain-looking wooden tank lids they manufacture for custom requests has given them additional ideas for growing the company even further.

Growth is often an instigator for change, and so it was with Cheap Toilet Tank Lids. They started with one 10'20' storage unit in Largo, FL, then expanded to two unit. An influx of 3,000 lids all at once instigated the move to a 2,000 sq ft warehouse, and then Tom really felt like it was a real businesses. They remained at the warehouse in Florida for several years before taking the plunge and moving to the mountains of North Carolina.



The move across several states also proved to be the largest challenge they've faced to date. Just for logistics alone, the move took four 53' semi-trailer loads of product, plus countless hours tearing down, packing, unpacking, and setting up their inventory.

While most entrepreneurs will tell you that the flexibility it provides is one of their favorite things about owning their own business, Tom also credits that flexibility for his success. Especially with an internet-based company like Cheap Toilet Tank Lids, the ability to set his own schedule allows Tom to be more productive, and also gives him time to pursue his other interests, like travel, hiking, cooking, etc.


Another advantage to entrepreneurship is that running your own business creates a built-in drive to keep trying new things. Tom admits that he's had his share of failures along the way, but even those missteps keep him working toward a more successful enterprise.

His advice to other small business owners is to not fear spending money on advertising. He recommends 10-20% of revenue as a good target for advertising spend. But don't forget to keep an eye on your advertising dollars to check for areas where advertising in that area isn't driving sales. By cutting spending in those areas you free up money to try different, potentially more successful marketing efforts.

The future for Cheap Toilet Tank Lids is definitely bright. With a simple goal of increasing revenue each year, they have succeeded in doing just that every year thus far, and see themselves continuing that trajectory for years to come.


****

All photos provided by Cheap Toilet Tank Lids and used with permission

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Top 10 Items We Use with a Three Year Old

Every time I go on Pinterest I see all these "must have" lists for bringing home a new baby. You know what I don't see? Hardly anything about anything for older kids. So let's do something about that.

This is a list of items that are used on a regular basis by us or Jillian, our 3 year old.



1. Pull-Ups.
No, Jillian is not potty trained yet. Yes, we are working on it. But in the meantime, pull ups it is. Definitely something we use on a daily basis. Multiple times.


2. Wipes.
Yep, if we're still using pull ups, we're still using wipes. I've come to love the Huggies Cucumber & Tea scented, but that's just me.

3. Baby Shampoo

Yep. She's 3 years old and we still use baby shampoo. Actually, with Jena's sensitive skin (8 years old) she still uses it as well. Over the past 8 years we've definitely bought plenty of baby shampoo, and I don't see that stopping any time soon.



4. Sippy Cups

Can she drink from a regular cup? Yes. Does she also do thinks like put food in her cup, dump it on the table on purpose, and put her hand in it just because she wants to? Yep. So we still use a sippy for most drinking throughout the day. Regular cups pretty much just for dinner time when we can try to keep a closer eye on her.




5. Pacifier

Yeah, this one is as much for me as it is for her. She only uses it when she's tired or really upset, and then not usually for long. My oldest never took a paci, so this is new territory for us, and quite frankly I'm not ready for her to give it up.



6. Play Doh


This is definitely one of our favorite play items right now. Luckily for us it's pretty cheap. We picked up a Melissa & Doug play dough play set at the homeschool convention back in April, and it's been a big hit. Keeps both the girls playing quietly just about every day of the week.




7. Books

Right now Jillian loves to have someone read to her. When we're done reading a book she'll usually take the same book and go "read" to one of the pets or her dolls. It's fun for her and I know we're setting her up for success in reading later. The Llama Llama books are some of our favorites.




8. Band-Aids


Our little Jillian is our little monkey, which means like a lot of 3 year olds she gets lots of owies. Lately we've been going thru a box of bandaids just about every week. And that's just for legitimate owies. Her latest injury is a fingernail that fell off. She hurt the end of the same finger 4 times in a row, and unsurprisingly a couple of weeks later the nail started to fall off. I anticipate us continuing to use lots of bandaids until the new nail finishes growing in.




9. Baby Dolls

Our little Jillian is also a little momma. She has loved dolls since she was old enough to let us know her preference. Three years later she still loves playing babies. Baby Alive dolls are one of our favorites for both of our girls.




10. Bubbles


One of Jillian's favorite activities is blowing bubbles. It's nice now in the summer because I can send her outside with a big bottle of bubbles and I know she'll have a great time just blowing bubbles and popping them.




Well, I think that's our Top Ten for Jillian. Anything you'd add?

Check back soon for a list of the Top Ten Items We Use with an Eight Year Old.

As always, thanks for checking in!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Dreams and Schemes and Marriage

Recently one of my acquaintances was lamenting what she saw as a completely unrealistic plan her husband had for their family. She kept trying to explain to him why it wouldn't work, he kept getting mad at her for not considering it.

The discussion we had led me to think back through our relationship.


I'm reminded of some of the crazy schemes Jason & I have come up with thru the years. Some of them are pretty out there. The craziest one, in my eyes anyway, was when he told me he wanted to move to Haiti to run a farm. Seriously. Haiti. Look up the disease & crime rates on that one and think about moving there with your toddler. That was absolutely ridiculous to me. But I looked into it and thought about it, and discussed it with him anyway.

Haiti never came to fruition. In fact, 99% of our dreams & schemes don't pan out, whether they're his, mine, or ours. But you know what? Dreaming together can be so much fun. We've gone to look at land somewhere so many times I've lost count. We've gotten on the computer and looked at property on the other side of the country and talked about what would happen if we bought it sight unseen. I've googled the rates of disease in various foreign countries he wanted to move to. Jason & I have discussed how we would go about selling all of our worldly possessions. We've gone to open houses for homes we'd likely never buy.

We're actually in the midst of dreaming thru a crazy scheme right now. This one's been going on for months. We've both read articles & blogs, watched YouTube videos, even gone window-shopping for some things we'd need. I've done the math on our finances to see how feasible it is, did some more math to see what else we could do to increase the feasibility. It's a pretty big one. Possibly our craziest one yet. And we are both totally on board.

Not going public with our idea yet, although if it does eventually work out we will totally be inviting ya'll on our journey. But not yet. I did mention it in passing to my parents. They thought I was joking. Literally thought I was making a joke, so I let the subject pass. For now.

Jason & I have talked and dreamed together, window-shopped for our lives together, and we've had so much fun doing it. And I believe our marriage is stronger for it.

So the next time your spouse comes to you with an idea that seems a little "out there", give it a chance. Maybe it'll happen, maybe it won't, but I don't think you'll regret giving them the benefit of a doubt and dreaming together for a little while. Who knows? You may even come to love the idea.

As always, thanks for checking in!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Small Business Spotlight: Kentucky Olive, LLC

Today's Small Business Spotlight features a brand new business in Northern Kentucky, Kentucky Olive, LLC.

Kentucky Olive opened as part of The Friendly Market in Florence, KY on Memorial Day weekend 2017. After having being a customer of several Friendly Market businesses for quite some time, owners of Kentucky Olive, Tom & Tonia Spille, realized there was a need for a good olive oil & balsamic provider in the same location to complement the other fresh food establishments. After many discussions with the owner of Afishionados, a seafood shop in the Friendly Market where the Spilles had also taken cooking classes, and with additional discussions with a provider of olive oil & balsamic, the couple decided to take the plunge and begin this new adventure together.



As with starting any new business, the Spilles have overcome several challenges already. First of all, neither Tom nor Tonia had a strong background in food provision or retail sales. Finding time to launch and run a business has probably been their biggest struggle so far, as both of them work full time jobs as well. They manage this challenge by tackling tasks based on priority, and keeping their eyes on the positive: starting Kentucky Olive has been something the couple can do together. They chose their location at The Friendly Market for the existing customer base there, the support they get from the other businesses there, as well as their ability to support those businesses themselves. The unique atmosphere there really allows all parties the ability to feed each other (pun intended). Their customer base varies widely in age and income, but they all have one thing in common: they care about what they put into their bodies. Customers of Kentucky Olive are striving to be more health conscious, to know their food & what goes into it.

Tom & Tonia currently run the Kentucky Olive store themselves with the help of family members, but they hope to hire full time help as sales continue to grow, and grow they certainly will. The early success of this small business has been impressive. Several local food establishments have already begun using their oils when preparing their food productions, and they are in discussions with other chefs in the area to use their products as well. Their customer base is growing rapidly and they have already received orders from multiple states across the country. It's no surprise that they expect to grow their customer base substantially throughout the next year, and hope to open additional locations in the next 5-10 years.



So how do the Spilles explain their success thus far? For starters, their unique location in The Friendly Market draws a customer base looking for unique, quality food. The time & effort they put into finding a supplier of premium olive oils & balsamic vinegars has paid off as their customers have fallen in love with the quality product they find there. Yet with all the work they have put into launching their new business, Tom & Tonia truly enjoy what they do. They have a passion for quality food and sharing ideas with their customers. Working at the store feels less like work and more like relaxation and fun.

And for anyone looking to start their own business, the couple wants you to know that they see personal satisfaction as the primary advantage of being your own boss. Making your own decisions, looking back on what you did and knowing that you did it, the ability to see something you've created become successful - these are all things that made entrepreneurship the right path for the Spilles.


Interested in trying their products? Stop by and see Tom & Tonia to try their many flavors of extra virgin olive oil, fused & infused olive oil, black truffle oil, balsamic vinegars, specialty vinegars, whole olives, and much, much more. For more information, find them online at www.KentuckyOlive.com or email them at KyOliveLLC@gmail.com

****
All photos provided by Kentucky Olive and used with permission.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

My Expertise

So recently I read something that said you should identify at least one thing that you could consider yourself an "expert" at. Honestly (and a little sadly) I was at a loss. So I asked my family.


Jason (husband):

- NSFW 


Jena (8 years old):

- being a mom and loving us


Jillian (3 years old):

- playing on your phone


My Dad:


- debating


My Mom:

- researching


Stephanie (one of my besties):

- engaging others in intelligent conversation without being condescending or dogmatic





I'm noticing a theme among the adults. Well, the adults I don't sleep with anyway, LOL.

Debate. Research. Engaging in conversation. Maybe that degree in history did pay off, huh?

So what about you? What are you an expert at?

As always, thanks for checking in.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Took My Fat Butt to the Doctor...

Okay, ya'll. I am feeling the need to relate an experience I had the other day at the doctors' office, that has me a little irritated. And you know, if this were the first time it had happened, I might brush it off. But it's not the first time something like this has happened.

So I go to see my gynecologist for my yearly exam. He mentions my significant weight loss since last year. He mentions my metabolic disorder (in my chart). He mentions the endocrinologist who I see for my metabolic disorder, and who my gynecologist describes as "the best". He mentions my vertical sleeve gastrectomy, and asks about my progress. You know what he does then?

He tells me I need to reduce my calorie intake (without asking me anything about my diet). He asks about my physical activity, then tells me I also need to exercise more to maximize my weight loss.

You know... if he didn't know that I had a diagnosed metabolic disorder, was under treatment by "the best" endocrinologist in the area, that I recently had gastric sleeve, that I'm already seeing a nutritionist, and have lost 70 lbs... if he didn't know all of that and as a medical professional wanted to insert his advice about my weight because he was concerned about my obesity, then fine. But when you know your patient has taken proactive steps to combat the condition, is being seen by someone you yourself consider "the best", and has had significant weight loss, well... do you really think another lecture about how fat she is, how she needs to reduce caloric intake & increase physical activity, well, do you really think that's helpful? Or is it degrading? Disheartening? Insulting?

It's not the first time this has happened. In my early 20s I  experienced some breast changes that, because of my family history of breast cancer, my family doctor felt should be evaluated by a breast specialist. So I went. She never even examined me. True story. She asked me to have a seat in her office, fully clothed, and lectured me on how I needed to lose weight, and somehow this would resolve my breast issues. She literally never even looked at my breasts, let alone did an exam.

Let that sink in for a minute. A patient is referred to you, as a specialist, because of significant changes in her breasts combined with a strong family history of breast cancer. And you, as a specialized medical professional, never even examine her, but instead lecture her about her weight as if that will cure all of her issues.

Needless to say, I never went back.

Thankfully my family doctor was as appalled as I was and ordered my first mammogram. He also said he would no longer be referring patients to that particular doctor.

Don't misunderstand me, I know that obesity is a major health issue in our country. But it isn't everything. It's not even close. Nothing about my yearly gynecological visit necessitates comments about my weight, diet, & exercise, especially when you know I'm already being treated for those issues. Nothing about the changes in my breasts were attributed to my weight, nor would losing weight somehow miraculously prevent breast cancer from being a concern in my life.

The sad thing is that these experiences are nothing new, not for me, and not for millions of other Americans. Our concerns, the real medical issues that need to be addressed, are dismissed; we aren't taken seriously; we endure lecture after lecture about our weight, whether we want it or not. We hear the surprise in the nurse's voice when our blood pressure is within normal limits, and the look of surprise on doctors' faces when we tell them that "No. I'm not diabetic. In fact, my sugar trends low."

It's bad enough the things we endure from John Q. Public, but the doctor is one place we should be able to go, discuss valid concerns, and have those concerns addressed, without judgement. But it's not. It's just not.

It's really sad to think that one of the benefits of me one day reaching a healthy weight is that doctors will now take me seriously. Really, really sad indeed.

As always, thanks for checking in!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

What to do if Your Cat Goes Missing

A few weeks ago my beloved cat Tucker snuck out the door around midnight and disappeared into the night. When he hadn't come home by the next morning, I became worried. Really worried. Tucker is 12 years old and an indoor cat. I envisioned all kinds of horrible things. But I also took action.

If you ever find yourself in a similar position, here are a few things you can do to (hopefully) get your beloved cat (or other pet) back home.


#1 - visit your local animal shelter.

Our shelter helped me complete a "missing pet" notice, that would be kept in the intake area for six months, so that any cats brought in would be matched against Tucker's description. They also allowed me to view all of the cats at the shelter, including the recent intakes not yet available for adoption. I was also permitted to hang a "lost cat" flier on the bulletin board in their lobby. The animal control officer that assisted me was incredibly helpful and polite, and gave me some first-hand information on what they see that helps reunite owners with their pets.

#2 - post on social media, especially Facebook.

Truth be told, I did this first, just because it's quick & easy. Create a "lost cat" post, with picture, set the privacy to "public" and share with your friends. Ask them to share. Share in local groups in your area. Post in missing pet networks in your region. Post, post, post, share, share, share. Not only is it super-easy, according to the animal control officer I spoke with Facebook is now the #1 way they see owners reunited with pets in our area.



#3 - post fliers, with pictures, in your area.

This was one of the last things that I did, mostly because the three days after Tucker disappeared were filled with summer thunderstorms. Of course. But the first dry day we had I posted fliers on the telephone poles closest to our home, with plans to post more and expand the area every day. The officer told me this is currently the secondmost way they see pets & owners reunited in our area, especially for those who may find your pet but not be on social media. Even though it was too wet to post fliers outdoors due to the weather, I did take fliers to local gas stations, veterinary offices, and pet-related businesses in my area started on day one.

#4 - if your pet is microchipped, notify the microchip company

We rescued Tucker from a shelter, so he came already microchipped, but this was the first time I actually ever needed to use their missing pet alert system. I have to say, I was impressed. I filled out the online form, submitted it, and not only did an email go out to hundreds of other owners of microchipped pets in the area (I've been getting their emails for years), but they also send out a mass communication to local veterinary offices, and even Facebook groups. In fact, one of the "Lost & Found Pets" groups that I went to post to, by the time I got on social media, had already posted the notice they got from our microchip company. For those who may be interested, we use HomeAgain*.


#5 - go out with stinky food and call your pet by name.

For cats, go out in the evening and early morning. Cats are nocturnal by nature, so there's a chance he may be sleeping the day away. If he's going to be found out & about, it's most likely going to be at night.


#6 - put your cat's litter box outside.

Statistics vary, but some claim that a cat can identify their own litter box up to a mile away. I waited until day three to do this, for a few reason. First of all, I had cleaned the litter box right about an hour before he got out. There was nothing for him to smell. Secondly, Tucker shares a litter box with our other cat, Molly. I couldn't leave it outside with nowhere for her to relieve herself. Thirdly, the rain. I didn't clean the litterbox at all the first couple of days after Tucker disappeared. On day three, when the rain let up, I took it outside and dumped it near our property line, in the direction I last saw him running. It was now nice and stinky with Molly's waste, and I figured even if it's not his, he should recognize his sister's smell, right?



#7 - don't give up hope

According to the animal control officer I spoke with, indoor cats who get lost outside, if they haven't been taken in by someone, return after 2-3 days. If a cat has been "rescued" by a well-meaning neighbor, it can be months before you are reunited.
The story usually goes something like this: well meaning person finds "lost" cat with no identification. "Rescues" said cat by taking it in. Since they are doing a good deed, it never occurs to them the cat may be lost. Surely it is a stray or its owners didn't want it or take care of it. After a few months, the cat either isn't fitting in well in the household, or they finally get around to taking it to the vet, or a friend or family member guilts them about never checking to see if the cat were lost. At that point they surrender it to the shelter where it is scanned for a microchip or matched against a missing pet report. Or the vet scans for a microchip and realizes the pet actually belongs to someone else. Or they start looking at lost pet reports or call the shelter and realize that their new pet is actually someone's missing pet.
So don't give up hope.

So what happened to Tucker? He did return home, on day four, around 11pm. I heard a faint meow, and initially thought it must be Molly, sleeping in my three year old's room. Then I realized it wasn't her voice. I looked over, and there was Tucker, peeking in our French doors at the back of the house. He was skinny, covered in burrs, and reeked of gasoline, but was otherwise fine. I'm not sure where he was for those four days, but I sure am glad he's home.


One surprising development was the amount of attention his disappearance and our reunion got on Facebook. People shared my posts all over and I was getting private messages checking on his status. So naturally Tucker ended up with his own Facebook page. My cat has a Facebook page and people are still following his story. Still seems a little crazy, but it's true.

How about you? Have you ever lost a pet? Were you reunited? What steps did you take when you realized it was lost?

As always, thanks for checking in!



*HomeAgain did not ask for a mention or review, nor have I been compensated in any way for this post. I am simply giving my opinion of a service I have paid for out of my own personal finances.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Letting People In

One of my friends kinda invited herself to my house for a play date. Not in a rude way, more of a miscommunication (I assumed we were meeting at a park, she assumed they were coming over). And I should clarify that although I do consider her a friend, we're not especially close, haven't spent a lot of time together, chatting, or what not. So not a close friend by any means.

I figured this out at 10:30pm the night before when she asked what time she should be over.

Instead of back-pedaling, backing out of it, explaining the miscommunication... 
I agreed.
I might be insane.
My house was a disaster. And not like in the way that people say when it's a little bit untidy but they want to be polite or whatever. Like a serious messy, messy did-a-tornado-hit-here? disaster. The last thing I wanted was for anyone to see my house. Actually, the last thing I wanted was to spend hours cleaning our house only to realize that it still isn't even close to "company ready", even though company is coming, ready or not.
But our pastor routinely says things about how if you keep shutting people out of your life & your home because you're afraid of being rejected based on your flaws, then you are missing out on real, authentic relationships. So I agreed instead of backing out, and I let her and her kids in.
And it was awesome. If she judged me, she didn't show it. You see, I always kind of assume that when people see my messy house they either judge me, or are relieved (you know who you are, LOL). Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe a lot of people just don't care that much either way, but that's what I envision: either judgement or relief.

So we don't have people over a lot. Hardly every really. But maybe we should. Because it was great. The kids played together well, she and I got to chat almost the entire two hours, and I think we all genuinely had a great time.

So maybe I need to let more people in, literally and figuratively. Maybe I'm missing out on something great by not letting people in. And maybe if someone judges me based on my lack of housekeeping skills, they aren't the kind of friend I need in my life anyway.

What about you? Is there anything you use a reason to keep people at bay? What are you afraid of?

As always, thanks for checking in!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Small Business Spotlight: Pressure Wash Cincinnati

Welcome to the very first Small Business Spotlight on Everyday Nothings. I'd like to spend some time each month shining the proverbial spotlight on a small / family business. Up first, our own family-owned business, Pressure Wash Cincinnati.



Pressure Wash Cincinnati started in 2012 as The ProServe Group, a professional services group specializing in home exterior services, and currently consists of Pressure Wash Cincinnati and Christmas Lights Cincinnati.

Founder Jason Geiman had the idea while talking with his fellow firefighters at the fire house one shift. One of them mentioned that he thought there should be someone who went around and did pressure washing in the neighborhood. The idea stuck with Jason, and he started looking into the idea of starting his own pressure washing company. After he had done considerable research and talked with existing owners of pressure washing companies in other cities, he approached his wife, Jodi, with the idea. Once she had a grasp of the concept, she gave him her full support.



The company started as a true "mom & pop" operation, with the couple going together to look at and purchase equipment, driving to other cities to talk to more experienced professionals, talking over the aspects of the business, and attending professional conventions. When the business launched in 2012 Jason answered the phones, performed quotes, closed sales, and did all of the manual labor  and bookkeeping while Jodi, who was also working full-time outside of the home, did the graphic design and helped with marketing in the evenings, weekends, and occasionally on her lunch break. Their then-3-year-old daughter would also join in as they drove around in what little "spare" time they had, putting out yard signs at major intersections throughout Greater Cincinnati. Family time often looked a lot like family business time in 2012 and the beginning of 2013 (and still does at times!)

Their hard work paid off, and by the next summer they were on track to double their business. Enter Jason's brother, Gary Geiman.



Jason & Gary had previously discussed the possibility of starting a business together, and had talked over several options, including pressure washing and carpet cleaning. With the business expanding rapidly, and Gary in a position to step in, the experienced sales professional came on board the summer of 2013 as the undisputed head of sales.

With Gary taking over phone calls, performing quotes, and more importantly closing sales, Jason was able to concentrate on completing jobs, and keeping customers satisfied with top-notch work and customer service. In his nearly non-existent spare time, Jason started teaching himself marketing. The timing was impeccable, as Jodi needed to take a step back. Additional responsibilities at her full time job combined with a pregnancy made it less feasible for her to be as involved in the business had she had been before. Looking back, she sees God's perfect timing in what was a pretty stressful time. Gary's knowledge and experience in sales has been a boon to the business, and Jason has become a veritable expert at online marketing, which has helped to drive Pressure Wash Cincinnati to the success it is today.




The growth of the company has been fairly aggressive, nearly doubling every year since 2012. This success has led to the hiring of additional employees, and Pressure Wash Cincinnati currently employees ten people, and runs three trucks full-time during the peak season, which runs from late Spring thru early Fall.

In fact, the growth has allowed them to bring more members of the family on board. Gary's sons, Tyler & Garrett, have helped out with pressure washing almost since the beginning, and both have now come on board full time working in the field and assisting with sales calls. Gary's wife, Jennifer, joined the Pressure Wash Cincinnati team this year, performing vital assistance to the company in sales, accounting, and customer service. Jennifer's son, Sebastian, has begun helping Jason with the online marketing by creating videos.



With growth comes the need to find great employees, a struggle many business owners, big & small, are battling. Pressure Wash Cincinnati tries to combat this struggle by paying their employees an above average monetary compensation and providing up to three weeks off per year. They hope to secure long-term employees that share their goals and vision by servicing their customers with the highest degree of satisfaction possible.

Not only has their success led them to increase their hiring, they've also outgrown their physical location twice in just five years of existence. As with many small businesses Pressure Wash Cincinnati started out of Jason & Jodi's home in Northern Kentucky. In year four everyone realized that they needed additional space, and they leased a building in a neighboring town with better highway access for reaching their customers. The business outgrew that space in less than a year, and they have now moved to a larger space in Cincinnati. Not only does their new location provide them with the space that they need for a larger operation, but it is more central to their customer base as well, allowing them to serve their customers more efficiently.


So what do they credit for such success? Well, the achievements Pressure Wash Cincinnati has seen come primarily from successful marketing efforts, but this includes a willingness to try something new when one marketing effort doesn't yield the ROI (return on investment) that was expected. While they can't discount the positive effect active marketing campaigns have had on business growth, their success also wouldn't come without providing an unbeatable quality of work with superior customer service, but for those wondering why their marketing has been so successful, Pressure Wash Cincinnati has two main suggestions:
        - get active on social media with your business
        - find a mentor with more experience to learn from

While entrepreneurship takes a lot of hard work and a lot of time, it isn't without its benefits. The Geiman family sees the flexibility of running their own business as the primary perk. You might work seven days a week at times, but having the ability to set your own schedule is a huge asset. Setting your own goals and seeing them thru to completion also creates a sense of satisfaction that many entrepreneurs struggle to find in a traditional work place.


So what does the future hold for Pressure Wash Cincinnati? Expansion seems to be the future of this successful small business. With plans to expand into other cities within the next year, they see themselves with over ten franchises within five years, and hope to have handed the reins over to the next generation of Geimans within a decade.

I hope you've enjoyed our very first Small Business Spotlight. Interested in hiring Pressure Wash Cincinnati? Working for them? Visit their website at www.pressurewashcincinnati.com for more information, or call (513) 379-5450 to speak to one of their team.


Interested in having your small and/or family business featured in our Small Business Spotlight? Contact Jodi at geimanj@yahoo.com.

As always, thanks for checking in!


******

all photos provided by Pressure Wash Cincinnati and used with permission

Monday, June 12, 2017

Recipe: Stars & Stripes Cookie Bites


I made these cookies for our family's Memorial Day picnic and they were a big hit! Cute & delicious. Not one was left. If you like soft cookies like my family does, the secret is cake batter. Keeps the cookies soft like cake, but with the right other ingredients, firm like cookies. Could be used for any patriotic holiday, like the upcoming Independence Day. Enjoy!

Stars & Stripes Cookie Bites

Ingredients:
One 15.25 oz box of french vanilla cake mix
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup red sprinkles
1/4 cup blue sprinkles

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together. I recommend adding one at a time, in the order listed, and stirring after each addition.
Spray cookie sheet(s) with Pam baking spray.
Drop dough by large spoonfuls onto cookie sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes. Don't worry if they're not pretty! That's what the cookie cutter is for!
Allow to cool on cookie sheet.
After cooling at least 10 minutes, use star-shaped cookie cutter to cut into shape.
Serve and enjoy!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Review: Duncan Hines Perfect Size for One


I got my first Perfect Size for One the other day and couldn't wait to try it.

I was not disappointed. I went with the Chocolate Lovers Cake, and it definitely satisfies my chocolate cravings. It was easy to prepare, minimal dirty dishes, and so yummy!



When I first looked at the finished product, I admit I was tempted to add some icing. Not for flavor, but because cake tends to be a little dry for my taste. I was pleasantly surprised when I tried it sans icing and found it to to be more than moist enough for my taste. The cake is fluffy, warm, and just right for a small snack or dessert. Just enough to satisfy that sweet tooth.

As an added bonus, I don't have to worry about making a larger dessert, like a "regular" cake, then having the rest of the cake go stale. Perfect Size for One is exactly that, the perfect size for one serving, easy to make, and no chances of the rest of it going bad before you can finish it.


Jena's been begging for me to let her make one ever since she saw the box, and the prep is easy enough that I think I will let her. Maybe tonight.

If you occasionally have a sweet tooth and need just enough to satisfy it, I highly recommend Perfect Size for One by Duncan Hines. And if chocolate is your vice, then you can't go wrong with the Chocolate Lovers Cake.

Enjoy!

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I received a sample of Duncan Hines Perfect Size for One in the mail, but there was never any request or solicitation for a review. I chose to do a review of my own accord, with no request or expectation of compensation of any kind.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Preschool: Learning Letters


Now that Jillian is 3 years old, we've started more formal lessons for her in our homeschool. Many of them revolve around letter recognition and spelling her name.

Last week I came up with a simple, but effective lesson that she loved. I took out a piece of colored construction paper, wrote a capital "J" (for Jillian) on it in black marker, then gave her the paper and some small stickers. I asked her to carefully follow the lines of the "J" with the stickers. I have to say, I was impressed with how neatly she did it.


Jillian loved this activity so much, that we've continued with each of the letters of her name. Her attention span only lasts for about the time to do one letter, so we've been doing on each day.

This post contains affiliate links. This does not impact your price but I do get a small commission for any items purchased through these links. As always, thank you for your continued support of Everyday Nothings.

What are some fun ways you've taught your kids their letters?

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