Saturday, March 30, 2013

Last Day with The Twins

Jeremy got up with the twins this morning so I could sleep in a little bit. When I got up, I had a cup of coffee and then took the boys to the park down the street from us. We ran the whole way there, played "pirates" for a good hour, and then ran all the way back home. Good exercise for me! LOL

We took the twins home to their grandparents' house in Colorado Springs after lunch today. Jeremy dropped me off at the salon on the way. I'm back (pretty close) to my old blond color. Definitely feeling more like myself now.


Jeremy picked me up afterward and we got some brightly colored flowers from the florist. Then on to the cemetery to deliver those flowers to our daughter's grave. Many things have gotten easier over the past year -- visiting her grave never gets easier.

After that, a quick trip to Jeremy's parents' house. Janet showed me her BRILLIANT idea for Thirty-One's Hang Up Room Organizer. She's using it to organize all of her knitting and crocheting supplies:


This is still the number one reason I love Thirty-One -- seeing all the creative uses people come up with for their products!

Jeremy's parents, the twins, Kelsey, Jeremy and I went to Tucano's for dinner. I ate so much I thought I was going to die -- but it was SO good.

Now we're back home, and the house is so quiet. Jeremy is reading his weekly shipment of comic books, and I'm catching up on my blog reading. It's been a crazy week, but so fun. And now we're definitely ready for some normalcy.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Visit with the Lyons Family

It was a short work day for me. I was able to log off at noon and head to my favorite yoga class.

When I got back home, I banished Jeremy.

After he held down the fort yesterday while I was in bed with a migraine, I told him I'd give him some time to himself. So I kicked him downstairs and took over with the twins. I got them settled in for a nap, did the dishes, worked a little on Horizon Peak stuff, then got the boys up and headed out the door.

We drove over to my friend Jessica's house. She has twin girls the same age as our twin nephews, so we've talked about getting them together for ages. We finally got the opportunity today. The kids all got along great. They were a little shy at first, but within 30 minutes they were playing together like they had known each other for years.

Jessica dug up some earthworms from her garden, and the boys were just fascinated. When they were done with the worms, they went to play in the girls' outdoor playhouse. Anthony told me he was delivering milk. LOL

While I'm on the topic of funny nephew-isms, David told us the other day that he wouldn't want to eat a truck because it would try to drive on his tongue. And Anthony told me in the car on the way over to Jessica's today that he went to Disney World when he was 5 years old (he's only 3). Too stinkin' funny.

So the kids got along famously, playing in the back yard for a good hour. Jessica has the most amazing back yard. Eventually they all wanted to come in, so we gathered the kiddos in the playroom. The boys took turns riding the giant stuffed pink unicorn and putting together puzzles.

I got the boys home with enough time to settle them in with their uncle Jeremy before heading off to my last apologetics class. I can't believe it's already the end of March! I learned so much in that class. It honestly didn't help me verbalize my faith much better -- but it really did help me think about it more clearly. And I think that will eventually lead to better speaking skills.

I'm going to end this post with some good news.  After that nightmare we went through when we found out someone had stolen Scarlett's identity, the IRS accepted our tax return and actually paid us our refund. When I saw the money in our account, I about did a back-flip. I thought it was going to be years of arguing with them before we saw that money. Thank you GOD.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Migraine and Dog Upchuck

Poor Jeremy. I might be the one with a migraine today, but poor Jeremy.

I woke up at 5:30am with pain behind my eyes and I knew the migraine was coming. I laid there praying that it wouldn't turn into anything, until the twins came and got me at 6:45. As soon as I sat up, BAM the migraine hit. Along with gut-wrenching nausea. Ugh.

I got up with the boys, settled them in with some Dora while I made coffee, let the dogs out and made them breakfast -- but by 8am, I couldn't hold myself together anymore. I went and got Jeremy up and asked him to take over.

I worked from bed all day. Luckily it was a *relatively* slow day. I kept the blinds closed and did my best to keep my eyes open.

So why poor Jeremy? Because along with taking care of the twins and taking care of the daily household chores, he also had to deal with dog puke. A LOT of dog puke. The dogs had shredded their rope toy, and before we got a chance to throw it away, Hero had eaten a bunch of it. Today it all came up. Again and again. All over the house.

We're both exhausted this week, so my migraine was almost a vacation for me -- and Jeremy is now running on fumes.

The good news is by 4pm, my migraine went away. So while Jeremy took the boys to the park, I cleaned up the last of the dog puke and made dinner. Now we're all sitting around watching Ultimate Spiderman (a surprisingly good cartoon -- great dialogue) while the cheesecake crescent rolls that I baked are cooling on the counter.

Guilty party and his dopey brother

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hawk and Sleep Deprivation

I wish I had gotten a picture of this, but I was just too stunned. I was in the kitchen at about 7:15 this morning, getting our twin nephews some cereal, when I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked out the sliding glass door and a gigantic red-tailed hawk was landing in the cottonwood tree nearest our deck. I hollered for the boys to come look, and we all gathered at the door. We watched this HUGE bird settle on the branch, stretch its magnificent wings, and settle again. It was there for about 20 seconds before taking off again. The boys and I were thrilled!

Yesterday was just a blur. When I went to bed last night, I realized I hadn't blogged -- and I just couldn't muster the energy to even write something quickly before I zonked out.

David woke up at 2:30am, yelling for me and crying. I bolted into his room and he was sitting up in bed crying, "Anthony kicked me!" David had been sleeping at the foot of the bed, and Anthony had accidentally kicked him in his sleep. It would have been funny if it wasn't the middle of the night.

I couldn't get back to sleep right away. Admittedly, I've got some anxiety issues surrounding kids and nighttime (can you blame me?). So I'm a bit sleep deprived today. But functional. I had to drag myself to yoga, but I'm glad I went. The teacher did a restorative class, so a lot of deep stretching and relaxation poses. It hit the spot.

I'm trying to get done with work a little early today so we can take the boys to see The Croods. We'll go to our local dine-in theater and maybe even get some fried pickles and half-baked cookies. YUM!

I'm almost done with the B-School module for week 3. I am applying all of my lessons to my new business, Horizon Peak Consulting. I'm still in the beginning stages of everything, really. Still trying to focus my service offering (digital strategy for small businesses), build up some good content for the website, etc. So you'll probably see me talking more about all that in the upcoming weeks. For now, you can go to the site, read the blog posts about digital marketing and sign up for the mailing list.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Cousins

How is it possible that two 3-year-olds can have this much energy on so little sleep? I wish I could bottle it. I'd make a fortune -- if I shared any.

The boys have started asking about their cousin Scarlett. For the first year after she died, they never asked about her. We were impressed by their empathy. But now they notice the pictures on the wall and they ask where our baby is. I don't know if they remember her name. I tell them that she's in heaven. They ask if we're going to see her again. I tell them yes, when we're angels we will see her again.

I can't tell you how hard it is not to cry. But I bite back the tears because those 3-year-olds wouldn't understand why their auntie is so sad talking about her baby.

Having the twins here isn't the same as having our daughter here. But it's still wonderful -- as lovely as it is exhausting. For all their rambunctiousness, their sense of humor shines brightly.

This all just reinforces what we already believe with all our hearts. This house is meant to be filled with children. Our family is meant to be more than just the two of us. The fertility doctors may have given up on us, but we haven't given up on having a family. We will never, ever give up on that.

Someday the twins will be telling our children about their cousin Scarlett.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Blessed Noise

Originally we planned to meet Jeremy's parents and our twin nephews for lunch today at Hacienda in south Denver. But when we woke up to a foot of snow, our plans changed. Jeremy and I stayed off the roads, and I spent the day working on a freelance project. I was actually happy to be able to get that time to work on it, so I could spend some quality time with our nephews this weekend when they arrived.

David and Janet brought the boys to our house later in the day, after the roads had been plowed. It's spring break for the twins, and they're staying with us for the week. Hero is THRILLED to have people his size in the house.

We had a blast playing with the boys today. Jeremy even made his famous macaroni and cheese for everyone for dinner. Getting the boys to settle down enough to go to bed tonight, now that was a challenge.

We had to go into Scarlett's room to locate the nightlight before we put the boys to bed tonight. That was difficult. We don't go in there very often. The closet is still filled with little pink clothes. A striking reminder that I am now the only girl in the house.

But it's hard to stay sad for long when my arms are filled with little nephew hugs. And it's hard to focus on the sadness when there isn't a moment of calm or silence. I know having children is exhausting, but I hope you parents enjoy the disruption. Because someday, when your kids are grown and gone, you will understand what I mean when I say the silence can be deafening.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Auditory Learning and End of the World

Grr. I put Google Analytics code on all my websites weeks ago, and when I went to check out how the metrics were tracking, I realized I hadn't placed it right. Weeks of metrics down the drain. Wah! Oh well -- it's not like they are award-winning websites. Yet. :p

I'm slowly stepping into my new role at my day job. And it's absolute brain candy. So far it's all work that I have a knack for, but it's a new type of work so I'm still learning. I think the biggest challenge for me in my new role is going to be paying close attention in meetings. I am not an auditory learner, so I struggle to get information out of conference calls. If I can read it, watch it -- or even better -- DO it, I'll absorb the information so much faster. But part of my new job will be taking information from meetings and parsing it out to teams and departments within the company.

I think most people are not auditory learners. I have been training a large group of people for weeks, now, and I can tell even over the phone that they are not absorbing what I'm saying. So I follow everything up with written documentation, screenshots, spreadsheets, you name it. And I make myself available for one-on-one virtual meetings, too, so they can practice what I've taught them while I watch and guide them. (For those of you not in the tech industry, virtual meetings are essentially screen-sharing sessions. We log into a tool like HP Virtual Rooms, then the presenter shares their screen and the participants can watch right on their own computer. It's the best invention EVER for distance training and presentations -- but you have to remember to close down all your personal stuff. It cracks me up to watch a presentation and see Google Talk messages pop up. Ha!)

I actually use join.me to train my freelance clients on Wordpress. I just love all this new technology! It makes sharing information so much easier. I always wanted to be a writer, ever since I could hold a pen, but the world of disseminating information goes soooo far beyond books now. I was certainly born in the right era.

Speaking of eras, I read a lot last year about how December 21, 2012 wasn't going to be the end of the world, but it was going to be the end of the world as we know it. Meaning, there was a big shift about to happen. And I think that was spot on. I have felt a shift since the calendar flipped to 2013. And everyone I talk to seems to be of this same opinion, that there are all these big changes happening -- and some of them aren't so comfortable -- but that the changes mean something. They're purposeful. As difficult as some of the changes are, they're going to be for the better.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Neighbor Puppy

Not much time to blog tonight, sadly. After work, I had a quick coffee date with a friend that I haven't seen in WAY too long, then ran home to make dinner for Jeremy, then got straight back to work on a freelance project. Now I'm trying to hurry and write this so I can go spend some time with my husband before I go to bed.

Hero had his first true "accident" today. He pooped in the house once before, but it was on a puppy pad and we should have reacted faster when we saw him sniffing in a circle. Tonight, we didn't even realize he had peed on the tile by the front door until long after he had done it. Odd, since he's been here three weeks and had no trouble letting us know when he needs to go out. But he's a puppy, so I guess it's not THAT odd.

Jeremy is mad at me. Jokingly. I was out walking Hero a few days ago, and our neighbor came home from work when I was still in our yard. The neighbor came up to say hi and I introduced him to Hero. A few days later, those neighbors got a puppy. Ha! Well, it's actually not that funny, because those neighbors now have THREE little yippee dogs, and they let those dogs bark all the time. I don't know how they stand it. We certainly can't stand it.

Enough whining about our neighbors' yippee dogs. I could go on all day.

This freelance project I'm working on is so interesting. It's editing web content for an oil recycling company. I learn the coolest things when I work on freelance projects sometimes. Did you know that used oil isn't considered hazardous unless it's contaminated with chlorinated halogens? Interesting tidbit there for ya.

Okay, I really am wrapping up now. Off to snuggle with Jeremy before I collapse in bed with a good book.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Obsession and Distraction

I had trouble sleeping last night. That cold I was fighting two weeks ago is starting to re-emerge, so I took some cold medicine at about 8pm. Sometimes that stuff knocks me out -- and sometimes it does what it did last night, and makes me wired.

It took me a while to get to sleep. And then I kept waking up. And a few times, my brain really got on a roll, thinking about work. Training 8 people to do the same job is a really big challenge for me. I'm used to training one person at a time. And I'm far enough along now that I'm starting to lose track of who I told what to. So last night I had this running dialogue in my head, I've got to tell Chris about the landing page spreadsheet, and Greg needs to know about the server promo communication that Evelyn sends out, and I need to assign a practice project to Veronica when she gets back from vacation...

At about 3am, my brain was plugging along on that thought train when BAM. A set of bright blue eyes flashed across my mind. A vision of my daughter's sweet face. Out of nowhere, at 3am, I was missing her so much my spirit threatened to wrench itself from my body to go find her.

Work is a really good distraction for me. A lot of you ask how I can juggle so much, and the answer is I need to. It keeps me from obsessing about my loss.

But sometimes my loss is a distraction from the obsession of work as well. It gives me perspective, for sure. I don't think I'm even capable of thinking that work is my life anymore. Not when I've been shown what life is really about.

Last night, thinking about my lost daughter as I lay there unable to sleep, I got a big dose of perspective. There is no reason to stress out about work. No reason. Especially not at 3am. Work isn't going to hug me in the morning. It's not going to sing me the Spiderman theme song. It's not going to dance around the living room. My daughter did that -- and my future children will do that. Work allows Jeremy and I to live the lifestyle we do, and work gives me a distraction during this painful part of my life. But work is not, and never will be, my life.

All the things that are happening in my work -- at all of my jobs -- are interesting, exciting and the good kind of stressful. But no matter how much I talk about work in this blog, be assured I've got my priorities straight. Last night was date night with my husband and I did not work. Sunday was a day with family and I did not work.

Even when my life feels a little aimless, or I'm being pulled in ten directions, if I get a bird's eye view I can always see the end goal. At the end of it all, she's there waiting.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Doctor Who and Interesting Work

I've gotten hooked on Doctor Who. Jeremy and I have been watching the modern-day Doctor Who series on Netflix, and I admit I am starting to understand some of the cult phenomenon.

I think it's the ultimate fantasy. Traveling the universe and being home in time for dinner.

People keep asking about Hero, so I am happy to tell you he is still doing great. Leash training is not as easy as I had hoped. I'm using a Gentle Leader halter with him, as the Aussie rescue lady suggested (she trains all her Aussies this way) -- but he HATES that thing. He continually tries to pry it off his head. So, I'll just keep working on him. I take him out at least every other day, even if it's for five minutes.

Work is still crazy. The training frenzy continues with my day-job.

I haven't had any GlobalWrites projects outside of my usual editorial work lately, but usually when there's a lull in GW work, an independent freelance project comes my way. And this time is no exception. I'm editing the website content for my friend/former client's dad's oil recycling company. I tell you, being a freelancer brings up some really interesting work sometimes.

And Horizon Peak is plugging along. I did a ton of work on the website over the last few nights, trying on different Wordpress themes and messing with the code until it looked and functioned the way I wanted it to. I even got two blog posts up.

I'm a little behind on B-School this week. I'm hoping to get caught up here soon. Obviously my blog schedule is a little off, too. But tonight is date night, so I am cranking this sucker out and going back to paying attention to my sweet husband.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Baby Birds

I absolutely adore the end of the training process. After I've spent hours on the phone with someone, hosting virtual meetings and writing instructional documentation, when my trainee finally starts working a project on their own... it's like watching a baby bird leave the nest. I love seeing people find their feet in a new world.

Everything in my day-to-day life is in a big upheaval right now -- and it's both exciting and daunting. Mostly exciting. I feel a bit like a baby bird myself.

Tonight was the last night of my Monday night Bible study on the life of Peter. The women in that group really grew on me. I was sad to say goodbye, but I need to pare down my commitments while I'm getting this new business off the ground and attending B-School. I do plan on starting back up with their June study, though.

One of the ladies in that group reminds me so much of my late Aunt Peg. She surprised me with this sweet gift tonight.


How thoughtful is that? I don't know what prompted her to give that to me, but I was absolutely touched.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Busy Busy

Wowwww. Crazy last few days. Not a moment to blog.

I didn't get a break from work between 8am and 5:30pm, other than my lunch-hour yoga class. I am in the middle of a training frenzy at my day-job, trying to get 8 people ready to take over these projects on April 1. Meanwhile I'm trying to still handle my regular workload AND figure out what my new job is. I had just enough time to change clothes and eat dinner with Jeremy before I had to go to my apologetics class.

In apologetics, the lecturer talked about how constant exposure to evil hardens us. A school shooting where 5 children die will traumatize us, but the next time 7 children have to die to garner the same reaction. After that, it has to be 20 children. And so on -- we get desensitized. And only exposure to good can soften us again.

I agree with that so completely. Jeremy and I have both been feeling like we just need a big dose of good to counter-balance some of the evil of the last year.

After class a couple of friends of ours came over after they attended the Nuggets game in Denver. We hung out a while and they stayed the night at our house. This morning they treated us to Cracker Barrel for breakfast. Mmmm baked apples.

Right after they left, my parents came up for a visit. This was their first time meeting Hero, and it was love at first sight. They actually threatened to kidnap him. LOL. I spent the day with them, going to lunch, shopping at Costco and going to church.

The worship band at church did an incredible cover of my current favorite song, Radioactive. Totally made my night.

My brain has been going a million miles a minute with ideas for my new business. It's literally been keeping me up at night -- I have to write every idea down as it comes or I can't sleep. I had 30 minutes last night between when class ended and when I was expecting company, and I used the time to crank out a couple of articles just to get some of these ideas more fleshed out. I love being so excited about something -- it's been too long since I've felt this way.

This excitement is spilling over into my day-job, too. Things I'm learning outside of my 8-5 hours are actually helping me in my new role. With so many of my various projects crossing paths, it feels almost... purposeful. Planned. Like everything is working together to bring me to something. It's really cool.

So anyway, sorry about the erratic topics on this blog lately. I've got a lot going on. And sometimes this just becomes a record of what I'm doing each day. Some of these blogs are more for me than for you, I guess.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

PC Calling and New Biz

I am fascinated by PC calling right now. I've had a PC headset for my work laptop for over a year, but I only started using it in the last month. I pretty much make all of my work calls through my computer now. I use Lync to call my day-job teammates, and Google Chat for dialing regular numbers.

I'm glad I have gotten comfortable with the technology, because my day-job company is adding a voice call service similar to Google. I will no longer be using my cell phone at all for work -- it'll all be through the computer now. Amazing.

I understand the statistics that technology is now growing at an exponential rate -- but statistics don't really hit home until your day-to-day life is impacted by them.

Speaking of technology and day-to-day life, I suppose now is as good a time as any to tell you what my new business is going to be. I have started a web content consulting business called Horizon Peak Consulting. I've been tossing around this idea for a while, but once I signed up for B-School, I knew it was time to move forward with it. I'm applying all of my B-School lessons to this new business.

What is web content consulting? Well, in this case, it's helping small businesses who already have a website take their web presence to the next level. I know so many small-business owners whose websites just sit out there as a static landing page -- and the purpose of your website (and your web presence in general) should be to drive interest in your business and thus drive sales. If it's just sitting there doing nothing, it's a waste of your money.

Stepping up your web presence doesn't have to be an overwhelming task. But some people just don't even know where to begin. That's where I come in. I get to know you, your business and your customers, and I create an action plan for you. The action plan steps can be as simple as setting up a Facebook page and adding a blog to your website -- or more in-depth like creating an editorial calendar and hiring people to write for your site to keep the content fresh and relevant. I have enough contacts in the world of web content (copywriting agencies, web developers, graphic designers) that I can even make recommendations about who to call.

My business isn't off the ground yet -- but I'm nearly there. And like I said, I'll be applying all my B-School lessons to it over the next 8 weeks. So I have high expectations. I am looking forward to using my 15 years of web expertise to help small businesses join the web revolution.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Value Yourself -- Or No One Else Will

I have worked with several newbie freelancers lately, and it breaks my heart that many of them took unpaid work on the promise of "getting their name out there."

Your time and skills are worth money. Whether you're an old pro or a newbie, your time and skills are valuable. Don't fall into the trap of letting people convince you that because you're new at something, you should work for free. Take a low-paying gig to boost your portfolio, fine -- but unless you're volunteering your work to the local homeless shelter, don't work for free.

When you value yourself, others will value you more. Plain and simple. Human beings have that innate understanding that "you get what you pay for" -- and clients don't often put a high value on free work. Besides that, as you grow in your career, the higher you raise your prices the higher caliber client you will attract. Higher-paying clients, believe it or not, are typically easier to work with and value your services more.

I'm sure there are exceptions to this rule -- but not many. Value your time and skills, and your clients will value them more.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Talents and Unrelated Traits

In the two years I have worked with GlobalWrites, the owner of the company has really helped me understand the ins and outs of creating and maintaining a small business. It's been a fascinating learning process, and SO helpful to me as I work with other small-business owners.

I started B-School yesterday, and already I have been able to take in and process a ton of information about creating a business and pricing your services. One of the things I learned is that you are not doing yourself any favors by pricing your products or services low. If you produce a quality service or product, you attract a better type of customer (easier to deal with, more repeat business) by pricing your work higher rather than lower. Quality customers will pay for quality work.

Gathering all of this information together with my industry experience, I have come to realize how rare quality work really is. There are talented people all over the world -- but talent doesn't produce overall quality unless you're also reliable, responsive and have great customer service.

One of the exercises I had to do for B-School was to write down what three traits people often commented on about me. That was easy, because I hear these things all the time: responsive, tenacious and detail-oriented. My employers love these traits, my freelance clients rave about them, and this is what customers will pay top-dollar for.

I've been in quite a few situations where companies have had to weed out employees or contractors. I'm happy to say I've never been weeded out, simply because of these enduring traits -- not just because I'm a great writer or project manager. Not to say it'll never happen -- but these traits, along with my skills and talents, have kept me on the right track during my whole career. If I were just a great writer, but I was slow to respond to emails, or skipped sections of a project, or missed deadlines, well I wouldn't have gotten very far.

So don't count out those traits of yours that people love, just because they're not directly related to your base skill or talent. If you're a teacher, your creativity and organization may have just as much to do with your success as your skill at writing exciting syllabuses. My father-in-law is in the tire recycling and resale business, but he is most known for his friendliness with customers. The owner of GlobalWrites is an amazing writer and businesswoman -- but she is also widely known for her ability to network with tech industry professionals, and her creative cooking!

And conversely, if your raw skill or talent is all you are offering to employers/clients/customers -- you're going to lose that business fast. Raw skill isn't enough to meet the needs of people willing to give you their money for your service or product.

So think outside the box. What do people comment on about you? You can use those traits to boost your business or take your career to the next level.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Rose Necklace

I have the sweetest, most generous friends in the world. My dear friend Jessica and her family gave this swarovski crystal necklace to me today:


As you know, I always wear a rose in remembrance of my daughter. And when friends and family give me things like this, every time I wear the item it feels like they are honoring Scarlett with me. I fully believe that material objects have energy to them -- and these sweet gifts have such positive energy, they boost my spirit every time I touch them.

When Aunt Jessi Was a Shark

I have gotten a lot sillier as an adult. You'd think I would have been sillier as a child, but no -- I was a pretty serious kid. And terrified of embarrassing myself. Insecure, to put it plainly.

But as an adult, I have lost that fear of being embarrassed. Not that I don't ever get embarrassed, but it doesn't hold me back. For the most part, people forget things. Quickly. I might remember something stupid I did or said a year ago, but the person I did that thing around or said that thing to has probably forgotten all about it. So living my life around avoiding embarrassment is just not a smart way of living my life.

Besides that, I do love to take risks. It keeps life interesting, and keeps my fires stoked. And part of taking risks is risking embarrassment.

I was flipping through the TV this weekend and I came across You Again. Essentially it's about a girl whose brother is marrying the girl who bullied her in high school. And even though the bullied girl grew up to be a successful, cool adult, she starts to revert to a state of insecurity around her former bully. It got me thinking, I wonder how I would act if I were face-to-face with one of the kids who gave me a hard time in high school?

I wasn't bullied, necessarily. I just didn't fit in. I got along with everyone because I was genuinely nice to people, and I kept my head down. But there were definitely a few situations where a kid was what I would call "mean." I imagine if I ever got face-to-face with one of those people, they would be shocked at who I became. It's not often that a shy girl learns to live her life so confidently.

That video I posted yesterday is a perfect example of something I would never have done in my teenage years. Or if I did it, I'd have three inches of makeup on and the video would be about three seconds long. Oh how far I've come.

This webcam I bought came with software that allows you to animate a CG character, such as a shark, an alien or a cat. You click a button and start talking, and the character's mouth moves in sync with your voice. As soon as I saw that feature, I grabbed Jeremy and brought him into my office to create a video for our twin nephews. I put the shark on screen, said a few words, got Jeremy to add his voice to the mix, then put it on YouTube and sent my MIL a link.

The 3-year-old twins called us about a half hour later, SO excited that Aunt Jessi was a shark! Hahahaha. Janet told us that when they first saw it, little David asked her "Is that when Aunt Jessi was a shark?" We couldn't stop laughing.

It was a silly video done on a whim, with no ego involved -- and it delighted our nephews to no end. If that is the only thing that came out of me refusing to remain insecure, well it was so worth it.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

You Ain't Seen Nothin Yet

I have been in the world of the web since I first got out of college back in 2000. In one way or another, I have worked with every incarnation of web marketing and merchandising -- from e-newsletters to online catalogs to blogs to online stores. But until recently, that all pretty much boiled down to written content.

Everything is moving toward video now. As Generation Y gives birth to Generation Z, our culture is changing -- YouTube is right up there with Google in regards to preferred search engines. If you want to know how to do something, two years ago you'd read an article about it -- but now you watch a how-to video.

I'm in the business of web presence. At my day job, in my freelance writing, in the new business I'm creating, even in my Thirty-One business, web presence is central to what I do. Which means I can't fall behind the times, or my paycheck will be what suffers.

What does all that mean to you, dear reader? That means you have to suffer through my first webcast. It's not pretty. It's not professional. But darn it, I need to get over my fear of putting my face on camera.

For the record, I'm super proud of myself for not using the word "um" more than a handful of times.


Friday, March 08, 2013

Perspective

There is nothing good about losing a child. But after experiencing that pain, I can tell you with absolute certainty that nothing will ever be as bad as that. Which puts EVERYTHING else in life in perspective.

We've had some bad breaks in the last year. Really bad. Yet both of us, agnostic Jeremy included, firmly believe that good things are on the way. I would go so far as to say we're both expecting BIG miracles to balance these scales a little.

Jeremy unable to find work, someone stealing our deceased daughter's identity, infertility -- these things would have kept me up at night before we lost our daughter. But I'm able to take our problems in stride because frankly compared to what we went through a year ago, they are no big deal.

What I wouldn't give for that perspective without having to have gone through what I did.

Nevertheless, I've got a peace of mind now that I have never had in my life. I might need a day to recover from some bad news -- I might need to take some time out to meditate or vegetate -- but it's not the weeks of obsession and "what iffing" I used to undergo.

And you know what? I think everyone that knows us has gotten a little dose of perspective from our situation.

We appreciate everyone's love, and how our friends and family check in on us. But we get confused sometimes when people worry about us or feel sorry for us. I mean, if we can get through a tragedy like that and still be a sane, loving married couple -- well, what do you think would break us?

Everything is going to be okay. For us, and for you. Take a note from me and breathe -- meditate, concentrate on your breathing for a few minutes and let the world operate without your input while you re-center yourself. It'll all be okay.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Oversharing and Being Yourself

I suck at keeping my mouth shut. Not about other people's secrets -- I take those to my grave -- but for my own stuff I have no filter. If you ask me about something personal, I will answer with as much tact as I can.

I think that is a good thing in that it makes me a better writer -- I don't censor myself. And I think it makes other people more apt to trust me, because I'm obviously pretty honest. This tendency to overshare has also desensitized me. I don't get embarrassed as easily as I did when I was younger.

But it's also a big challenge. First, there are some things I shouldn't tell people right away. I set myself up to fail, I think, talking so much about our struggles to get pregnant -- because when I DO get pregnant, I don't necessarily want the world to know until I'm pretty far along. Because crap happens. So when that day comes, it's just about going to kill me not to shout it from the mountaintops.

Second, it's a challenge because I expect everyone to be as candid as I am. When I find out that a friend has been struggling with something for months and they never told me, I feel a little betrayed. I get over it in an instant, because I know wanting privacy is not a betrayal -- but still, there is an initial sting.

I can't sit here and tell you honestly that I wish I was a more private or mysterious person. Because that's just not me. And if I've learned anything as an adult, especially as a 30-something, it's that being myself is the most important thing.

That lesson had the added benefit of teaching me how to accept my husband for who he is as well. I think us women all marry our spouses expecting them to change to make us happy -- while our spouses marry us expecting us to stay the same to make them happy. But I've learned to love Jeremy's obsession with comic books, his stubborn resistance to being told what to do by anyone, his passion for terrible headbanger music, even his night-owl nature. That all makes him Jeremy, and my perfect partner. That man was by my side through the worst experience of my life, and held on tight for the rough healing process that followed. I love him exactly as he is.

And I love that he just smiles and shakes his head when I overshare.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Body Language and Book Covers

Jeremy and I had lots of visitors this past weekend, which was awesome for so many reasons. First, because we rarely have visitors. And second, because it's important to socialize our new puppy.

After a busy weekend of hanging out with friends and family, visiting Pearl Street, eating at The Med and dealing with my daughter's identity theft, it was nice to settle in Sunday night with Jeremy and the pets and watch some Walking Dead.

I had a text message conversation that same night with a good friend, where we talked about how people mistake our facial expressions. We joked that we needed facial expression classes. It got me thinking about words and body language.

Women especially are programmed to read body language. We do it without being taught -- it's a natural talent. And these days there is increased awareness about how important body language is. You can even take courses on how to succeed in business using the right body language. It's gotten a little insane.

Body language is extremely important. It helps us gauge each other's reactions and it helps us identify when someone is lying. But where we get in trouble is that it has to be balanced with listening to people's words.

I can't tell you how many fights I've gotten into with Jeremy because I asked him to do something and his words said Yes while his body language said I am so annoyed that you asked me to do that. After years of this, and many, many conversations, I finally understand that 99% of the time Jeremy is not annoyed. I just read his face wrong. Broken down even further, I realized that I am worried he's going to think I'm nagging him, so, I read my own worries into his body language.

And the other 1% of the time, he is annoyed, but he knows he shouldn't be so he reacts appropriately instead of instinctively. Give the man some credit for reacting thoughtfully, shall we?

I could tell you a dozen stories about how I or someone I know was read wrong. I go into each conversation believing that people will take my words at face value -- and I do my best to take theirs at face value as well. But too often, someone reads more into the conversation than the words I spoke.

I believe we all have our unreadable facial expressions, too. I have a sweet friend who people read as "unfriendly" when she is meeting someone for the first time. Jeremy's neutral/thinking face has been read as anger. And people often read my "I'm so sorry, you poor thing" expression as "judgmental" -- which blows my mind.

So I guess what I came to is that you can't read a book by its cover. But you can't read a book without a cover either. Words and body language go hand-in-hand, and without both working together, miscommunication is bound to happen.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Icky Sicky

Well, our first weekend with Hero was a success. He hasn't had a single accident in the house, and he's handling all the new rules, people, animals and noises in stride. He's even handling his kennel well, he's complaining less and less every day.

Having a puppy is exhausting, though. I don't know how people handle it when they have small children!

I've been fighting a cold since Thursday. It's been over a year since I have been sick like this and UGH it sucks. I was hoping I'd be 100% by today, because I've got a craaaazy week, but I'm still struggling. I just got off an hour-and-a-half long training call, and my vocal chords hurt like a sonofagun.

So I wanted to write this big interesting blog, but my head is muddled from this cold and my day job. This entire month is filled to the brim with training meetings as I ramp up 7 people to do the job I've been doing by myself for 6 years (good Lord, has it really been that long?). Doing 1-1 job transfer is one thing -- but 1-7 is a different story. I am really struggling with it. I feel like I'm overwhelming everybody. I probably AM overwhelming everybody. So I've broken it down into individual sessions with everyone, which I think will help them -- but boy does that add a lot more meetings to my calendar. Pray for me, because I'm also trying to get this new side business up and running and I start Marie Forleo's B-School on Monday.

So I guess what I'm saying is I'm sorry this blog is boring -- but I swear the rest of the week I've got good stuff planned for you.

No real news on the identity theft front other than our accountant doesn't seem to be too terribly worried about it in regards to our taxes. There's a special form we have to mail in with our taxes that will notify the IRS that someone has used Scarlett's SSN illegally. I still think it's going to take the IRS a long time to sort it all out and get us our refund -- but I have more hope now that it will actually get sorted out.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

#&@@#$#$~~!!@##!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am so incredibly angry right now. I probably shouldn't even be writing in this blog because I'm afraid I'm going to infect you with this RAGE.

When our accountant tried to e-file our taxes, the IRS told him that someone had already used our dead daughter's social security number to file their taxes. Yes, someone stole the identity of my dead 19-month-old baby.

I have spent the entire night on the phone with the police and trying to get ahold of the credit bureaus (did you know you can't talk to a human being at any of the three bureaus? or that you can't get a credit report on behalf of your DECEASED MINOR CHILD? or to report identity theft you have to provide extremely sensitive personal information through the f*ing postal mail to all three bureaus for them to contact you in 2-3 weeks?). With identity theft so freaking common, you'd think it would be easy to report. But no, not when the thief stole the identity of a deceased minor.

What sicko could do something like this?

We're still trying to heal from losing our daughter, and some @#^*@##$!## just made things even harder on us.

I can't tell you how upset I am right now, after having to pull her death certificate and social security card to make copies for all of these useless, bureaucratic agencies. Meanwhile, someone got a tax refund using our daughter's info.

Miracles, you can start any time now. I'm ready for you.

Side note: The Northglenn Police Department continues to be very kind to us. They were kind when Scarlett died, and they have been kind through this fraud incident. I just want to say that for the record.

PARENTS: Monitor your child's credit report. PLEASE.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Hero's Home

We picked up our new pup this afternoon. I worked from the living room so I could bond with him on his first day in his new home. Yeah, this one's gonna be a mama's boy.


He's a rescue dog, found on an abandoned farm in Texas with more than a dozen other puppies. All of his siblings were pretty skittish, which I think is a natural reaction to their short and traumatic lives -- but Hero is different. And when we brought him into our home today for the first time, it was like he already lived here. He just fit right in. Tyr was curious, but not aggressive or anxious at all. And Cairo just sat on the arm of the couch like, "Huh. Interesting. Another furry thing."


Hero is a mutt. He's definitely got a lot of Australian shepherd in him, as you can see by his floppy limbs...



But you can't tell me that's not a German shepherd face!


He's a big snuggler, which is adorable. However, we're going to have to train him not to jump up onto our laps ASAP. Because he's already a big boy (19lbs at 13 weeks old), and he's already gotten me in the face with those big paws of his. He seems so eager to please, I think he's going to be a piece of cake to train.

Our little family got a little bit bigger today. It was a good day.