Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Starting the Adventure

OK, we really started yesterday, but I am burning multiple fires, so I feel like the real first day of this adventure is today.  The ball is rolling.

I probably need to break this down into 6 sections, which will eventually turn into 3.

1.  Suburb House

2. Land Purchase

3. Land Home

4. RV Living

5. Business

6.  Homeschooling all the while

I will write on these six topics as I can - taking pictures when I can.  Bringing the week in glimpse of all them on Fridays.

Today, I will update on all of them at the start of this journey!  I am so excited and nervous and running around like a chicken with my head cut off!

1.  Suburb House - Sigh, wish we could just sell and be done, but we have to do the due diligence.  We had a bad storm at the beginning of January that damaged the roof, only to find out yesterday that the shingles are falling apart - yes, I climbed up there and felt it.  We need a new roof.  We filed a claim with the insurance and hopefully there is enough damage from the storm, but we may not get approved because of the age.  It is sad, because the roof is only 12 years old - a bad roof job initially.  However, we are doing this because a bad roof will prevent a sale and a new roof will get us top dollar - along with the other improvements we have done during our stay here.  So, we are waiting on the adjuster.

2. Land Purchase.  We just found out that we have the go ahead of purchasing the land (before construction loan approval) and the equity will count toward the down payment at closing!  So, we need to find a realtor and purchase the land!  YEAH!

3. Land Home - We just found out that before we can get the construction loan, we need to get the blue prints set in stone, so we get to start planning our home very soon!  YEAH!

4.  RV Living - I am starting to research best ways for the kids to feel comfortable in the RV and get them private space.  They have bunk beds, but they are still with each other, I am thinking of separate time for them.  If we are far enough in the construction that we have the water well and electricity installed, then we can RV on our land.  I will set up a separate tent for them have alone time.   Planning, planning, and more planning.

5. Business.  I put out on Sunday that I am closing temporarily, but accepting Tshirt quilt orders through today.  I have about 20.  Whew!  I cannot leave this house until I am done because I will not have access to my machines until we move in the new place.  So much for ramping down.

6. Homeschooling - the kids and I had a meeting this morning that it is really not feasible for us to continue the full homeschool curriculum while we are on this adventure.  We decided that Math is the most important, so we will continue that, plus history and literature with some research papers every now and then.  Oh, and computer programming for Koen.  In Addition, they will be active participants in all aspects of this journey - from dealing with contractors, negotiating through the purchase of land and with the loan, designing the house, picking out the interior, learning about the house building process - from slab to finish, and close quarter living.  No, they are not making final decisions, but they are going to be a part of it so they are learning very important life dealings!

OK, I have to go pick up my daughter, then a customer is coming, then on to work.  Oh, I need to eat too - pasta salad and I really need more coffee!  LOL

Monday, January 30, 2017

LOTS of changes

We had a whirlwind weekend.  Not so much physically, but mentally.

I thought a lot about keeping my thoughts to my self and then my voice went out.  What I wanted to say is that I do not like where we live.  I don't like to clean it, or to cook in it, or really much of anything in it.  We hear our neighbors dog constantly.  We hear them talk.  We hear everything.  The houses are literally 5 ft from ours. 

We tried, we really did try to like this and make it work.

However, when I told Darrell, he felt the same way.

So, we are on the way to selling our home and building the one we plan on staying in until we die or are forced into a retirement home.

I know, some may say this is no such thing, but this really is the place we are making our oasis - the one we have bought land in before AND are looking to buy in again.  It is very wooded and with 2.5 acres, we can store our RV, have fruit trees, a garden and still not see or hear our neighbors.

Yes, this means a little larger mortgage, but we are downsizing again, so it is less square footage than the one we are in.  We will put 20% down, so no pmi and will cash flow any extras.  We plan on living in our RV while the home is being built.

These are all preliminary plans and nothing has happened yet.  We are just looking and asking questions, but this is going to happen sooner than later. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Moved on!

I cannot help but be excited!

Oldest boy moved out tonight!  I love him dearly, but we just do not do well living together.  We get along much better when he lives elsewhere.

His life is going to be a struggle always, but right now, this is a good thing and the roommates he will be living with will bring him up.  A difference between his roommates from before.

So, college boy will have a place to sleep this summer and I get my business storage BACK!  YES!!  Even though I am cutting back on it, I am not making sudden decisions on getting rid of things.  I love what I do, so I am keeping everything for right now.

I will post pictures when everything is put together.

In other news, I lost my voice, like seriously lost my voice.  Not even a whisper.  This is probably the worst I have had in many, many years. 

Kids love it, Dad hates it. I get so frustrated because I am limited by what I can write and that severely limits my brain!

Anyway, enjoying some southwest chicken soup I made in the crock pot today.  Glad I decided to since the moving commenced.  He never gives us fair warning.  But, today, not a problem.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Forced Rest

Our camping trip was good - we got to spend some time with the younger two and relax.  Though on my account, it was forced.  I started feeling sick Friday morning before we left.  By the time we left, I felt awful. 

Darrell gave me some strong medicine that helped me get through the business of Saturday.

I had a gift card from Pier 1 that I got for my birthday months ago.  I am not a huge Pier 1 fan, but we found a Galileo thermometer and a mask on clearance for my daughter.

Then we headed to Barnes and Noble where we bought a Globe.  I did not want to spend a ton of money on one and they had the best for under $20 that we could get immediately.  It will do what we need.

We did decide to spend a little bit and go see Hidden Figures.  It was a fabulous movie!  This is the genre that I love. 

Then we had an awful dinner at Olive Garden.  It was with a gift card, so I am not complaining too much.

After that, I was zonked and have been ever since.  Today I lost my voice, but had to keep working.  Homeschool is all on their own though - I cannot talk at all, not even a whisper.  They are good though - it will be ok this week.

I know we were supposed to do nature this weekend.  Darrell and I did sit outside each morning with coffee, but it rained and stormed most of the time.  I felt awful for the tenters and there were quite a lot of them.  The ones next to us had a toddler screaming BEFORE the storm, so they left within a few minutes of it starting.  I don't blame them.  If I had not been in a grounded travel trailer, I would have left immediately as well, even without a screaming toddler.

It was good though - I did not work for 48 hours and I really needed that.  Seems as though my body is telling me I need more by prolonging the cold.  Still feeling pretty yucky, but am resting comfortably.

Right now I am watching the Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix. Interesting...

Friday, January 20, 2017

Please don't worry...

I am not going to do anything rash. Unless you call getting out of town for the weekend at the last minute rash!

YES!!  We are going camping!  Thank goodness.  It will set me a little behind, but hell, I am already behind, what is another day or two!

My job is running much better today.  No stops or thread breaks or needle breaks yet.  I am holding my breath.  I want to get this done before we leave.

Yes, I am still a little down - so much on my plate, but I really think it is just me being overwhelmed.

Here is the plan:

1.  Almost stop the business.  No more patches and only 1-2 quilt orders at a time as I can do them.  That way I still have something to do, but not so much to do. (and my customers are livid!  You would think I killed their dog!)

2. Oldest boy IS moving out - come hell or high water.  His life choice is to not go to college, and adults that are not in college do not live with me.  This is supposed to happen next week.  I am only 50% convinced it will happen, but come the 1st, he is sleeping on someone's couch if he doesn't.

3. Once he moves out, our furniture can go into place and I will feel settled again.  No two couches in the living room, more room in my office, my bedroom cleared out, etc, etc.

4. The retirement account will hit $100,000 very soon - like a week or so.  This is beginning to make me feel better.  It is no where near enough, but it is a start.  We are really trying and now I am starting to see the effects.

5. I have joined a book club (in preparation for things leveling out) to get out and meet some people.

6. Yoga, walking and hiking will be started soon after the business really declines.  This is where things will really start looking up.  I need nature like water!

So, there you are.  6 things I am working on to make my life a little smoother.  Everyone in the family is helping as well - because when mom is happy, everyone is happy!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Slipping into Depression

I can feel it coming on.  I try to laugh around others, but I feel myself not smiling at all.  Maybe it is the dreary weather, the lack of coolness this winter, constant rain, hot flashes, so much demand on my time that even 48 hours in a day would not cover it.

When I was depressed before, it was from a lack of direction in my life - feeling worthless and like I was going nowhere.

This time, I have an over-thriving business AND homeschooling.  Finding friends has always been very difficult for me.  I am pretty anti-social, but with this busy of a schedule, it is even worse. 

My son living here is causing lots of anxiety for me - will he ever get it together?  Will he ever move out?  (He says he is going to, but we have been down that road before and he didn't leave).  Will I ever be able to balance my life?  Will I ever have a girlfriend?  I am lucky to have such a wonderful husband and my kids are great, our home is fine - not perfect and there are aspects I don't like at all, but others are good. 

I worry about money all the time, then do something insane to feel better, but then regret it.

This too shall pass.  I always get down in the winter.  No, I am not going to buy something to make myself feel better - I don't have time.

Even blogging, I do it while my embroidery machine is working, in between fixing the needle breaks, thread breaks, etc - oh, and yes, stopping to help the kids, etc.

I am too pulled.  So what happens when I try to cut.

People get angry at me.  Literally, yelling at me.  I am too overwhelmed to cry, but I am betting once I am able to stop, I will bawl.

I do hate where we live - cannot stand it.  I feel like people are right on top of me and I cannot breathe.  There is no beautiful nature around us. The tropical weather is horrendous.  I am really trying to find something redeeming about it, but it is hard - very, very hard.  To know that we are absolutely stuck here just makes it worse!

Give it a month, lots of things should change by then.  One month, I am holding out.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Contemplation of ...

Wisdom, Beauty and Truth.

In the process that I am going through both in the education of my children and myself, I constantly hear about focusing on Wisdom, Beauty and Truth.

It really is not what we traditionally think of these things, yet it is.

Wisdom - we think of this more with a person, someone who is wise.  Is this person all-knowing?  Maybe full of common sense?  What I think of when it comes to wisdom is, quite simply, the ability to stay in a place of learning and contemplation through a lens of truth.  A child cannot be wise because they have not had the experience to learn and contemplate and especially not understand truth.

Truth - This one is very difficult for me.  There are so many things that seem on the surface to be true, but is it?  I have not seen truth in its purest form because I have not studied enough.  I am not wise either.

Though I have a deep desire, and always have, to learn and grow, I am no where the point of where I would call myself wise.

Beauty - We all know this.  We each have an idea of what is beautiful.  But the type of beauty I am talking about is going deeper.  Moving past the superficial and finding true beauty in the abstract.  The beauty of math or astronomy.  The beauty in cleaning or preparing a meal.  The perfect order that created a tomato or a kiwi.

Maybe even, with a stretch, I can find beauty in our struggle to get out of debt and stay out debt.  LOL - maybe one day.

Monday, January 16, 2017

First Day of School

Though not literally the first day we have done school for the 2016/2017 calendar year, it is the first day we have committed to starting school at home with fervor.

We truly begin our US History studies.  It will takes us 1+ years as we want to incorporate documentaries and a trip to DC.  I wish we could jump in our RV and just go around the US for a year, but not an option, so DC it is.

This past weekend, we all decided that year round schooling will be best for us.  So, we are doing a 9 weeks on, 4 weeks off, with a couple of exceptions.  Since we took off the first two weeks of January due to the stress in the house, we have to work 10 weeks this first time, then get three weeks off.  Then we do a 9 weeks stretch, then 3 weeks off  late the in the year again because I want the month of December off.  Pretty much, we expect to travel during those breaks - one to DC, maybe to see my Dad in Arkansas, a trip to Mississippi to see family, etc.  December we will just exist though.

We think this mimics college boy's quarter system a bit, and will hopefully prevent burnout, while at the same time not letting us get so ingrained in leisure that it makes MORE difficult to get started up again.

Morning Meeting

Something different is that we are having morning meetings everyday, but Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.  After breakfast and teeth brushing, we meet in the living room to commence the day.
In this meeting, we:

1. Say good morning to each other, ask how we've slept, etc.  Then I may talk about anything that is new or has come up, then give them the opportunity to do the same.  Then we get into group lessons.

2. Bible Studies

3. History Lesson

4. Either Poetry or Science (whichever the day)

5. Latin chants

6. Chores

Then, they are off to do their individual work - Latin, writing, grammar, word studies, math and what ever elective they have.

It sounds like a lot, but we do small chunks everyday.  Like the saying goes - How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

This is also the first day of school for me as well. When they break for their individual work, I will spend 30 minutes more or less beginning my endeavor of studying the classics.  I am still in prep work and not sure where I will start, but I am excited!

Lunches with Dad
In addition to all this!  I wanted to start incorporating current events into our program and many homeschool moms do this by having afternoon tea once a week.  Well, Dad wanted to be involved, so we are going to have lunch with Dad every other week and have current event lunches. 

If it works out well, we may do this weekly on Fridays even with me. 

Today however, we are just getting our curriculum labeled and set up, then going over bible and some latin flash cards, and watching a video speech about the importance of a classical education.  Dr. Christopher Perrin is quite charismatic!

I hope you all are enjoying your day! 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Prostate Cancer

We just found out this morning that my father-in-law has prostate cancer.

This is the very beginning of the process so we do not know to what extent or if it has metastasized yet; they are doing a ct and bone scan later this month.  Too long for me, but I guess 1.5 weeks is not long for the medical world.

This has shocked the family because his brother just died of prostate cancer - like 2 weeks ago and another brother died a few years ago of it. 

Good grief. 

Now, my husband is freaking out.  His dad may be on the way to dying, and the likelihood of my husband getting it just increased 5 fold.   He is a worrier about these things and wakes up at night in cold sweats about death.  It is really very sad and nothing I say seems to help.

There is no real prevention other than eat your veggies and exercise.  Still, even if you do that, you can still get it.  The best way, truly, is to get checked often and catch it early.  The survival rate is very high if it is caught early.

Luckily, none were early onset - this is definitely later in life.  Over age 75.  So, late life cancers are very common in general.  I have always pushed the veggies as well as spices and herbs like turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, sweet basil, garlic.  The good stuff that helps with the blood.

We need to work on the exercise portion and we are getting there.  I am making some changes so I can lead the family down a healthier path.

Big news other than that - TODAY, I announced that I no longer will be sewing patches after March 31, 2017. 

Whew!  What a load off my mind.  I am cutting back on the business, which will give me more free time to make meals, motivate the family to exercise, etc.  I know I should not be the only one, but it is kind of the role I have always played in our family - the motivator.  Yes, it gets tiring, so things fall off from time to time, but I always get back in there.

This time, I am trying to approach this from a place of rest instead of a check list.  This is a part of our life, with no goal in mind.  Just aligning it with our values.

We will see how it goes.  Me getting to this point will take a while. 

Most assuredly AFTER several cups of coffee!  ;)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Setting goals

I cannot help but think about setting goals - I love how so many bloggers/vloggers set goals and update us.  I cannot help but feel motivated by the wins and comforted by the fails - they just seem real to me!  Life is not a straight upward arrow, but there are many ups and downs and sometimes the downs last a LOOOOONNNNNNNGGGGGG time!

I am still unsure of what goals I should set, if any.  Our big picture items are...

1. Get out of debt

2. Start Roth's if we can - at least 15% going to retirement.  (we are at 6% right now)

3. Help all kids get through college/technical school without incurring loans

4. Decide on place we want to live when we retire - land, no land, Texas, elsewhere?

5.  Incorporate more travel in our lives.  We live in a stressful environment for us, so getting away is crucial.

6. New roof, windows, back door and revamped bathroom in this house - crucial to being able to sell.  These are problem areas.  Out roof caught on fire over 4th of July and there is some damage, but the roof overall is really on its last leg, we are patching the hell out of it.  The windows are single paned and starting to warp from the heat - double-paned is a must here in southern Texas.  The back door is warped slightly and very drafty.  When we bought the house, the inspector marked it as a problem.  The master bathroom has a leak under the shower, it is really too small of a shower and not at all reasonable for an elderly person.  Tiles are loose as well.  This would not be a major remodel, just a new shower and possibly new tile.

7.  Betterment of health.  I am so done with worrying about my weight.  If I can walk forever, stay stretched out, keep my blood pressure in check and get strong, then I am good.  I do the sitting on the floor and getting up test all the time.   It is my check with myself to see if I am on the right track.

That is kind of it.  I don't do long term goals for homeschool because it morphs based on what is going on and setting a goal would be very, very broad and not worth it for me.

So maybe it is better for me to set monthly goals, that I know I need complete by the end of the month, that work in the direction of the larger life goals.

January (late I know) Goals

1. Finish Customer J's (5 quilts), Customer B's (quilt repair), Customer W's (tshirt quilt), Customer L's (tshirt quilt and pillow).  It is a lot for one month, but I need to catch up and this is what it will take.

2. Stabilize our Homeschool Day - this year has been a wash with trying to find a private school, then ultimately deciding to stick with homeschooling.  We are still not back in session!  ARGHH!!!  Next week, this is my priority!

3. Begin walking routine.  I also want to start yoga back up.  Nothing earth shattering - I would be fine with 2x a week at this point.  Just get moving!

That's it this month - with oldest child moving in, the first two weeks everyone racked with a stomach virus, finding college boy a car, and basically having our lives turned upside down, the fact that I can even think straight is a miracle!

Kind of excited about this - keep me accountable people - if I don't set goals one month - ask me to, pretty please!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

My thoughts today

I really have so much to do to catch up with everything, but I am zonked today.  Trying to keep my eyes open.  We got up a little early to get to the orthodontist appointment, then I immediately started working, so no heat on my back, which did not set up for a good day.  I sewed together 783 little 2" triangles and sewed on around 20 patches.

The triangles are super boring to sew, but it had to get done.  It was hard on my mid back though and now I am sitting on some heat.  I see the tens unit happening tonight. 

Yesterday, I DID go to the chiropractor, and he worked on my hip flexors.  I have never had hip flexor issues before and OMG - that was one of the most painful things I have ever lived through.  He pressed into the flexor muscle while moving my leg and hip simultaneously.  Oh, in about 15 places in a 3" square area.  It is so very sore today, but my back stopped hurting.  Soreness is preferable to pain.  Although, it is has temporarily affected my ability to sew at the machine.  Not that I cannot, but I have to angle my leg in such a way to avoid severe pain, but then it causes numbness.  Lots of moving around, so it took 3x as long to complete.

So, while I am sitting here trying to relax, I thought I would share some of my thoughts today. 

1. I am losing sleep over my oldest living here.  I have decided that we are going to give him a hard date - probably Feb 1., or March 1, if he gets a second job.  I need to sleep again and I need to stop feeling responsible for his lazy or bad choices. (my other kids are not like this!)

2. There was a post in the Sonlight Mom's Group on Facebook that Magic School Bus is coming back focusing on STEM.  Although there is nothing wrong with Science, Technology, Engineering or Math - it is not the ONLY thing out there.  Lately, I have been on bandwagon that there is a whole generation of electricians, plumbers, mechanics, woodworkers, etc that is missing because so many parents, schools, and educators in general are pushing the STEM curriculum.  The fact is, not everyone is cut out to go to college and there is not much out there for non-college folks.  Even my husband is thinking seriously about starting to get certifications for electric work.  Especially if his job is cut from the ever awful oil industry depression.

3. I watched a couple of homeschool vlogs, and thought 2 ideas were neat.  One was tea time once a week, where literally, you use a tea pot and typical tea nibbles and read poetry, or discuss current events.  The second is to actually have a Christmas party on the last day of homeschool before the Christmas holidays with food and treats and a small gift from the teacher. 

This appeals to me so much because as they are getting older, we have stopped doing those fun things, but if we can adult it up a bit and spend time together - I think it would give a special, memorable time to our homeschool.

4. How much I want to go have Sangria, cuban sandwiches and yucca fries with my husband

5. How close, yet so far away from the 5 quilt set I need to get done by this weekend.  I am worn out, in pain and it is going slow.  Still everyday, I make progress. 

6.  I really want to focus on reading more this year.  Not just rereading what I have on my shelf, but literally order from the library and keep a running list going.

With that, here is my question for you all...

What books do you recommend?  I am looking for non-fiction mainly, but some really stunning fiction is always appreciated!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Going to DC!!!!

After a couple of false starts, we are actually going in April!  I figured this would be the year to go since we are studying American History and it will be our last time until Government in high school.

My daughter is really into Hamilton right now, so she is dying to go.

We will be there 1 week and are overwhelmed on where to go!  It is too late to get into the White House, I know, but there is so much to see - how in the world do you narrow it down!?!?!

We are staying in Old Alexandria close to the Blue Line.  I know for sure we are going to Arlington Cemetery, Smithsonian (even briefly) and Ford Theater.   Anywhere you would recommend we absolutely go?

Friday, January 6, 2017

Will we ever make a final decision!?!?!?!

This whole education thing for my kids absolutely killing me!  Not absolutely sweet at all. 

We have nixed the private school idea.  (No, no, no applause is necessary!)  2 main reasons

1. Minimum of $100,000 for 4 years for 2 kids, 1 year for 1 kid.  That is about the same amount that it costs to replace our roof, get a bathroom reno, cut down all pine trees and plant more shade type trees, get a shed for the backyard, buy a new-to-us SUV, get all the windows replaced in the house, and go on a domestic 2 week vacation and a month long European vacation.  Good grief!

2. We went on a tour and my daughter did not like it. Upon a long talk, both Laney and Koen want to remain homeschooled.  They like it.  Even with less friends, and my going ballistic when they don't show their work in math.

So be it. 

However, since they are entering high school land, I want more money to spend on experiences like a trip to an observatory when we are studying astronomy, and shark and other marine life dissections at a Texas A&M college in Galveston when we study marine biology.  As well as go to DC when we are doing American History, and other fun things.  After all, that is what home school is about, especially at the high school level.

So, we are going to do just that. 

I still reserve the right to take each year at a time, possibly getting into dual credits at the local community college and/or a la carte classes (math or science) at a school that offers a la carte classes for homeschoolers.  My only problem with them is that teach creationism over evolution and with the science background of my husband and I, we are ADAMANTLY against that.  I would prefer a secular science.  We will see.

Some things Darrell asked for - that I return to yoga, get massages from time to time, and we bring the cleaners back. 

We will see.

I am spending the next 6 months, slowing the business down.  With 20 quilts to do, it takes a while.  I am also debating stopping the patch orders altogether. 

It is a balance because if I am not doing something constructive, then I get depressed.  Though teaching is very important, it does not feed the creative side of me.  So, I am going to slow down, not give up.  That will have to organically happen, so I am not sure how that will look just yet.

Back to work - those quilts don't sew themselves together!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Goals Smoals - Business post

Me and goals don't get along.  Well, on the surface we don't.

It is not like I don't have goals, just listing them and checking in seems to be a way to be sure I will not meet them. I work better with a daily check list, keeping in mind a larger goal.  This way, when I mess up, one day is not earth shattering.

Although many are saying 2016 was awful, I will agree on the superficial level.  Politically, socially, it was awful.  Personally, it was only bad in that I was super successful with my business - which made everything really busy.

Here are some fun numbers for comparison:

Patches - 2014
Quilts - 12
Hems - 12
Misc. - 14

Patches - 2041
Quilts - 52
Misc. - 308 + 300 or more give-aways.

Patches - It is interesting to me that I thought I had lost business with patches.  Truly, I thought I was WAY down.  However, in January, there was a big order of over 200 patches, so I do think this year there will be a downward trend.  Mainly because the scout shops are starting to sew patches while shoppers wait and they are pushing the badge magic HARD.  I get people coming to me crying over that stuff.  I would have to do a big push to raise those numbers, but I am not going to. If these eventually fall off, I think I am ok with that.  I have no intention of stopping, but I am not pushing either.

Quilts - yes, this was an amazing year for quilts!  A jump of 40!!!!  This year is already starting off with a band because I have 10 in my possession and 10 on a waiting list.  It is only January 3rd.  I am only taking on a waiting list though.  Maybe next year I will be able to push more, but I am only one person.  My prices are not as such that I can add an employee either.  Maybe one day.

Misc. - This includes everything else.  I should start breaking this up into Police/Fire key fobs, Key fobs, Hooded Towels, General Embroidery, Pillows, then general misc.  Hind sight is 20/20, I was not doing those things at the beginning of the year and the fobs did not come in until around August.  So, this is everything like ribbon necklaces, pillows, towels, name embroidery, shirt appliques, all kinds of key fobs, memory bears, repairs, anything besides patches or quilts.  This comes easily as add-ons. I don't even have to market them really.  Just have them displayed when people come in or tell them about it.

What I learned last year...

is that asking gets you a LONG way.  I always hated when an employer would tell you to "ask the customer for X".  There is an art to it though.  Some customers, I never bring up other things I sell, but about 70% I do.  1% buy right away, and about 30% buy something later.  I have almost a 98% repeat customer business.  I ask everyone to tell others about me.  About 5 are my little marketers and so every now and then, I will give them something for free.

What I want to see in 2016 with the business...

is limited growth.  I am slammed until about August with homeschool, that I really need to focus on and it will not leave a lot of time for more work.  I want to do some personal sewing - like my husband's quilt, my son's quilt, my dad's quilt, my father in law's quilt, my mother in laws quilt, and play around with the stuffies.  I have the cutest moose, tooth fairy and tooth goblin, bunnies and a big elephant! 

Looking further in the future....

I want to start doing some limited and very well thought out shows.  For example, drill team competitions and/or cheer competitions are great for selling personalized items and quilts.  Swim meets are great for the hooded towels.  I may/may not have an opportunity with a scout shop to sew their pre-order patches.  I am still not sure if I want to do that or not.

Overall, I like the quilts, hooded towels, key fobs and stuffies.  The patches are ok and are the backbone, but a little boring.

The plan:

1.  Patches as they come in - 24 hour turnaround for uniforms, 1 week for patch blankets

2. No more than 2 quilts on order at one time (meaning in house) utilizing a waiting list until around August. 

3.  Cut off Christmas orders in October!  NO GOING BACK ON THAT!!!  Christmas was awful this year - I had no breaks.

4. Prioritize the kids by working with them first in the morning.  That way, I get uninterrupted work and I have still given them time.

5. Make enough to pay for one quarter of my son's college - ~$3,500.  Should be doable without much effort.  I just need to stop buying embroidery files!

Oh, I almost forgot - the 300+ giveaway.  I give Police Fobs to all active and retired Legal Enforcement Officers and Fire Fighters.  I am well over 300, but I lost count. I have 3 different types, but only the badge ones I give away.  The Texas and wristlets are only for sale.  (Yes, I can do other states as well)

I will think about the personal side another day.  Back to work!