Friday, September 19, 2014

A Blessing! 1 Year Anniversary of…

2 years ago I had just quit my teaching job to stay home and raise our family!  I knew this would be my role way back when I was in high school.  When I married Ryan, we were two teachers who were vigorously getting our finances in order in preparation for a future child.  We didn’t know when we would have kids, but we knew two things.  One, I would stay home!  Two, it was nearly impossible on ONE teacher income.  Ryan does officiate basketball, but that is not our security, nor is it consistent. 

By the grace of God and extremely hard work, we paid off our house after a little over 2 years of marriage, eliminating a mortgage.  Why our house?  Our cars were paid for, so the only thing left on our budget that was a big chunk of money was our mortgage.  So we HAD to get rid of it if I wanted to stay home.  So we did.  Plus, the thought of paying THOUSANDS of dollars MORE than the house was worth (in interest) made both of us throw up a little in our mouths!  A couple years after that, we had our first baby.

Once I started staying home, I was really nervous about how we would make budget.  Plus, we started saving for retirement which added a HUGE dent in our budget.  Teacher retirement is great, but definitely not how we want to live when we’re 60!  Our budget was pretty tight, so the only thing we could do to save more money was make more money!   

I started making birth stats signs for gifts when people had babies.  They were a huge hit and I started getting requests for them.  I was creating them in Power Point (I laugh when I think about that), but it was working.  One day my friend Jennie (her shop is HERE) and I were talking about “needing money” and she told me I needed to open up an Etsy shop and sell something.  She swore people would buy.  The only thing I knew how to make were these signs.
ETSY Listing with welcomed by signs

So, I started working harder than I ever have before, researching everything about how to start this business.  I eventually figured out I needed an editing program if I were going to do this (Power point is not efficient, nor does it have near the capabilities as others).  So, I purchased Photoshop Elements, and studied a lot…like A LOT!  Hours upon hours in the middle of the night, watching Youtube video after video.  Reading tons of Help articles, books, and more.  I’m a perfectionist, so I wanted to know everything about it.  2:00 AM was my new bed time!  FYI, I’m STILL learning…learning never stops in any business!

I spent about 6 months “prepping” and finally on June 5, 2013, I opened up my shop!  I purposefully opened in time for Father’s Day.  I sold 30 orders that month in June!  That was well beyond my initial goal.  I was going to be happy if I sold 5 signs that month and was prepared for zero sales.
Blessings ETSY listing

I started studying my shop’s stats and advertising on social media.  Added more signs and continued to study Photoshop Elements and Etsy.  I have probably learned more about business in this last year than I did my 4 years of college.  My studies at SMU in Business Marketing did help, but once you get your hands dirty, is when you really learn a lot.  I tend to play things safe so this was one of the biggest risks I’ve taken.  I was so afraid of failing.

I’m continuing to study and add signs, but lately I’m trying to just keep up with orders.  By the time December rolled around, I sold 141 orders that month (an order can be more than one sign).  And now sell even more.  It’s been a roller coaster, but mostly ups.  I’ve even learned all about taxes…that’s a business within itself…my least favorite part. 
Ryan and I after our tax meeting…

I am beyond blessed and grateful God brought this opportunity to me.  It’s allowed me to be home with my kiddos, while almost replacing my teacher income if my kids were in day care.  I was a little caught up in June (when it was officially a year) with having a baby, but I wanted to sit down and write this so I can remember the first year I started Joyful Art Designs.  I’m usually very hard on myself, but I am proud of what I’ve done this last year.  I will continue to learn (there is still so much more to learn), add signs to my shop, hopefully open up a website for it as well, and figure out how to balance work and family.  Family comes first, but I have I do continuously tell myself that sometimes.  I love what I do creatively, but first things first I’m a realist mom (sorry I had to…that was the first thing that popped into my  head…if you have no idea why that was funny, than just ignore me…Iggy) :)

People I want to thank: 
Jennie, for encouraging me to JUST DO IT and answering all my annoying questions about Photoshop and Etsy. 
Ryan, my hubby, for supporting me and helping me take care of Beckham so I could work.  For encouraging me when I was stressed or down on myself.  It took a lot of time and money to start it up and you didn’t even bat an eye!
My parents, for sincerely caring every time I told them how much money I made that week or month.  And for being proud of my small little business!
My customers!  Whether you found my shop from this blog, on Pinterest, or through Etsy, I’m sincerely grateful for your business!  Without customers, I would not be where I am today!  I’ve had such a positive experience with customers.  And I love knowing that something I created is hanging in your house or being used to make memories.  I often ask for real life pictures of my signs being used and it’s the best surprise when I open an email to see them hanging in a house or being held by a little kiddo (back to school signs were a huge hit).
And Etsy!  THE most amazing website for selling homemade products!  They are super seller-friendly and easy to work with.  Their help team is quick to respond and they have countless articles, videos, and more to help their sellers grow their business and customers find what they’re looking for.

Anyway, I just wanted to document this incredible journey that I’m really proud of and has now become a huge passion of mine!  I hope to get some more time to CREATE and add signs!  I get giddy when I add a new sign!  God is good all the time and all the time God is good!  God has taught me a lot about trust through this endeavor!  He does provide!
Cross Phil 4-13 ETSY listing

Christmas is coming up…click HERE to browse for any gift ideas!  And if you have a kiddo with an upcoming birthday, I just added this custom birthday board (perfect as photo prop and/or party decoration).
Etsy Listing Birthday Board
Etsy Listing Birthday Board boy

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

#oliviaeveryday2014 Week 37

Day 253: Enjoyed pizza with this little man on the Square (our downtown).  You can read about our day HERE.

Day 254: Working on neck support in the Bumbo since he HATES tummy time on the floor or on the Boppy. 

Day 255: My mother-in-law, Glenna, had Beckham on Friday (thank you Jesus) and Maddox and I went to eat lunch with daddy!  Maddox was so easy and smiley!

Day 256: Y’all I’m not even kidding when I tell you the best banana bread is my mom’s!  Try it HERE.  They also have the best coffee.  I can’t figure out why theirs tastes so good, but I always enjoy drinking a cup when I’m there!  We went over there on Saturday while Ryan had a game to ref and hung out afterwards as well!

Day 257: Ryan and Beckham started this Sunday tradition a couple of months ago when they two were going to church by themselves (when I was home with the baby).  Now, every Sunday, we get donuts before church!  Not the healthiest tradition, but oh well!  And this donut shop is crazy good.  There is ALWAYS a line to the door.

Day 258: This was a rough day with only getting 1.5 hours of sleep the night prior, but I was still happy because it was Fall in my house!  I don’t go crazy with seasonal decorations (mainly because I don’t want to put them up), but there is definitely pumpkins, leaves, and pumpkin spice candles in my house!

Day 259: Had so much fun hanging out with just Maddox while B was at school.  Maddox naps really well in his car seat when we get home, so I’m able to get some things done still during that small window that Beckham’s at school. 

A few more…

How cute is that frown?

Holding my hand was the only way he fell asleep!

Hanging out on Tuesday!

Taking a nap with Poppy!  So cute.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Day in the Life…Newborn Edition

The last time I did a day in the life post, things were a lot different.  I’ve been meaning to do this post for two weeks now and never could remember to start it.  I’m glad I did this so I can look back and see how much harder things were…I hope ;)  This was last Wednesday.

My day really started at 2:00am when Maddox woke up and didn’t go back to sleep till 2:45!  But then he woke again at 8:30am, so I fed him and placed him in his rock n play when he was done around 8:45.

That way I could pump while he sat next to me.  I exclusively pump…yes, it’s a pain, but I just can’t do formula if I know my body produces milk.  Too many issues breastfeeding.

After I washed the parts and prepared new bottles, I get Beckham up as soon as I’m done…around 9:15

Beckham begs for his vitamin.  I’m already disciplining him for getting into the panty and WHINING about wanting something.  I fix him breakfast and he eats on the counter while I make a cup of coffee.
PicMonkey Collage 1

I change a diaper!

Around 9:30, I eat my breakfast on the floor while Maddox loathes tummy time!

See.  Didn’t last but 3 minutes before he threw a fit.

We’re working on Beckham staying in his seat when he eats (I’m tired of cleaning food off of carpets, tiles, and furniture).  This is him SLOWLY walking back after I tell him “He better sit back down or…”

9:45 – Reheat coffee #1

Sit down and sip the coffee for as long as either one of them will let me…about 10 minutes.  We discuss what we’re going to do for the day.

B has managed to dump every book out and refuses to pick them up…awesome!

Beckham whining again because “brother pushed” him…he reenacts the incident.  He’ll hold on to Maddox’s feet and when M flexes his legs, it “flings” B back!  Wow.  Just wow!
PicMonkey Collage2

I look at the kitchen and want to cry…and hire a maid!

I manage to put the dishes up…I’ll do the rest later!

Around 10:15 I succumb and put a cartoon on for B to watch while I get ready.

I swaddle this chunk and put him down for his morning nap around 10:20 (he goes down awake and falls asleep with little fussing…SCORE)

Do a load of laundry.

Beckham rides his bike!

Reheat same cup of coffee #2.

I get B dressed and then he throws a fit.  I forget why this one occurred.  See those red shoes?  Compliments of Beckham who likes to bring out every.single.pair of shoes and walk in them.

I get ready (we needed to run some errands) and wake Maddox up at 11:45 to eat.

But before we go B is in timeout for yelling at me.  Clearly I also need to put up some laundry.

We make it out of the house at 12:15 and head to mail a letter.

Then to the bank.  B’s favorite spot…he gets a sucker.

I decide to take the boys to downtown for lunch (well, really just Beckham…M fell asleep at 12:40 in car).  I love this little salsa shop in town, so we stop by there to get some salsa and apple butter!  I could spend all day downtown.

We ate a Mellow Mushroom and it was pretty much empty, which was wonderful!  B was really good and we color pictures while we wait!  Does that pizza not look delicious?  Ryan doesn’t like this kind of pizza so I was thoroughly enjoying it myself!  B and I shared.  Then we went into another shop before we headed home at 2:00.
PicMonkey Collage3

I told B we would get some ice cream downtown but it was too far to walk so I gave him a little when we got home.  He usually naps at 1:30 so this was later for him.  He went down around 2:30.  Maddox is still asleep in his car seat.

At 2:35, I sit him next to me and pump again.

I wake him up at 3:00 to eat.

He wants to sleep after he’s done, but sorry buddy…trying to stick to a schedule here.  I’m hoping this “eat, wake, sleep” schedule will pay off soon!

We “play” a bit and I make some cookies.
PicMonkey Collage4

I sit him in his rock n play while I work on these two signs.  This is how I get some work done during the day if their naps don’t overlap.
PicMonkey Collage5

I wake B up at 4:10 and we all play in the playroom.  Maddox is always chill in here.

Put Maddox down for another nap at 4:40 and then B gets a snack and Ryan gets home about this time!  I pick up a little, fill some orders, and budget. 

Ryan had a meeting this night, but he decides to take Beckham so I can have some time with just one kid.  We pack him a dinner and they head off around 6:15.  Meanwhile, Maddox wakes at 5:50pm.  I eat dinner at 6:30 (leftover philly steak sandwich).  Sorry forgot to take a picture…I was inhaling it! 

Put Maddox back down for his last “nap” around 7:00.  I had to rock him and fell asleep with him in the chair until 7:20.  Put him in bed and snuck out…

Yay!  I can have a little me time…work, clean, etc.  I pump again which takes about 20 minutes including cleaning up.  Oh wait!  Is that a baby I hear crying 40 minutes later?  Dang it!  That’s actually pretty normal for him to cat nap in the evening, but I was in the groove of getting things done!  I’m a little stressed so I have a cookie…or three!  He’s fussy so I feed him at 8:10.

Hanging out with a full tummy!

Took a shower at 9:00 because I had to wash my hair and dry it (if I don’t wash it, I take a shower right before bed).  I have to let my hair dry 1-2 hours before I can blow dry/straighten it.  So Maddox hangs out in his bouncer by the shower.  Ryan and B get home at 9:15.  Ryan gives him a quick bath and puts him to bed.

Meanwhile, I give Maddox a bath at 9:30.  Usually I do this a little earlier but mama needed a shower.  He loves bath time.

But hates getting out!  How cute is that frown face?!  It’s a shark towel even though it looks like the statue of liberty…lol!

Evidence he cries like a maniac while he’s getting dressed.

Feed him at 10:00 so maybe he’ll sleep a little longer.

B was still up so I went in and said good night.  Yes, he’s still up after 10pm.  We try and put him down at 9:00 every night.

I did some laundry

Then cleaned the kitchen and painted my nails.  I did a little work while my nails dried.IMG_7662

-Maddox woke up at 12:00.  Tried rocking him, but we finally fed him at 12:35.  I pumped at 1:00am and Ryan put Maddox down at 1:20.  He’s a very hands on dad.

-I blow dry my hair at 1:30am (this is usually when I would go to sleep).

-Maddox starts crying AGAIN at 2:15am the SECOND I get into bed.  I put his paci in his mouth and he slept the rest of the night.  Had to wake him up to leave to take B to preschool. 

And there you have it.  A day in my life right now.