Sunday, February 28, 2010

Day 256 - Roundup

Greg is off to pick up the kids from their weekend at the grandparents so I wanted to use this bit of quiet time for my update. Had a nasty head cold yesterday and the incredible, much appreciated luxury of spending the whole day in bed, which means I'm probably 88 percent back to normal today. I'm convinced sleep is the greatest cure!

Marriage - Must admit I've not been as good as I could here. I need to step it up a bit. We missed our date night last night as I was coughing and sneezing and generally looking and feeling like something the cat dragged in. Hoping to make up for it in the weekends to come.
Parenting - Kids getting back tonight. I set up a new Leap Frog game I got at a thrift store that focuses on letters. It can be hard to find things that challenge Kirk at all that Kai can still sort of get. I also ordered new off Amazon a book called "How to Behave and Why" that got excellent reviews. I worry Kirk isn't as polite as he could/should be - though a good kid - and thought maybe a more direct approach to what it means to behave well would be helpful. Will report back;-).
Business - Emailed all my mentors for an update on what we've done for the week.
Book - Spent almost the entire day in bed reading about the philosophy of Star Wars. Early on I mentioned I wanted to "star -war -ize" history - to make it a great story and also to get kids excited about history - so I'm working on that.
FI - I struggle with this a bit. The entire idea for this blog was to get to FI as quickly as possible and to date, that had been done by spending little and saving a lot. With the company, we are often faced with the challenge of paying for high quality - or going cheap - not always sure which is the right choice. For example, we had originally planned to hire a college kid to design our website. Since then, we've talked to people in the industry who say it's not as easy as it might seem to grow a website that is going to have not only a store, but blogs, links to helpful hints about parenting, and search engine optimization among other things and we should pay "to have it built right in the first place."
Garden - Actually spent a bit of time with a garden book today - how fun. Greg wants to have his office here at our house this summer for a big outing, so planning pots and containers and garden things is pure joy.
Health - Lunch pretty good - salad with almonds and cranberries. Breakfast not so good - Panera bagel and soda. Dinner will be salmon patties and veggies. Snack was whole grain tostitos, organic cheese and a diet Coke. Two out of four not bad;-). I was going to take a picture at Panera of my meal - as suggested by the weight loss article - but wondered if that would look a bit odd - like I was setting them up for a lawsuit that I found a nail in my bagel or something;-).
House - The picture of the mess on the floor is just inside the back door. It includes Kirk's backpack from school, a box of stuff I had gotten from a thrift store, books from the library, games I exchange in and out of the car for the kids, coats, etc. My dream of the immaculate home in which you walk into to a scene of cleanliness, beauty and order, with the sound of a running fountain and lovely smells of burning candles or pot pouri is still in the act of creation;-).
Bus. Vocab. Will have update tonight.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Day 257 - Nightly Roundup

Hello to everyone. Hope all your plans are seeing progress and dreams are coming to fruition. Healthy food goal today - so/so. Have to try harder tomorrow. Met with my writers at the University. We have a lovely meeting spot at the cafeteria overlooking the lake. Then Greg and I met for lunch to look over the writing and discuss our next plan of action.

Marriage - Check.

Parenting - Kids in Iowa with the grandparents.

Business - Had a good meeting with the company that has helped us with putting our vision into a sort of mission statement.

Books - Met with our writers and we brainstormed for an hour.

FI -Not much.;-)

Garden - Nada

Spirit - Listening to a book tape about helping others. Went to a birthday party of a friend and had a really fun time, despite a nasty cold.

Health - breakfast - Diet Coke/leftover healthy Chinese w/Tofu, two bites of a Snickers, then tossed the rest. Lunch - Salmon salad, dinner fish and birthday cake.

House - Nada

Bus. Vocab. - banner, property, cashless exercise, 457 plan.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Day 258 - Nightly Roundup and some happy news!

My company made the first round for the Govenor's Business Plan competition! Out of about 280 entries, 55 were selected to go onto round two. Now I will write an executive summary for round two. This was happy news indeed!

Brandi and I are just getting back from the vet, where they told me she needs to lose 4 pounds, which is considerable as she is 20 pounds. I guess that weight just creeped up, so we're going to cut down on the treats. Meanwhile, I'm going to try my own weight loss idea with taking a picture of all the meals I eat and see if as a result I eat healthier and less - starting tomorrow morning.

The kids went to Iowa this afternoon for a few days with the grandparents. Everyone enjoys those visits! Greg and I took advantage of a free night and went to see a romantic comedy - Valentine's Day - Thanks Greg! I know that wasn't your first choice;-)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Day 260 - Nightly Roundup

Marriage - Didn't check in for something to do today - will have to do make up for that tomorrow.
Parenting - Kids to McDonalds after Kirk's science club - had a fun time.
Business - Looked into Women in Toys - may join.
Book - Went to the library and checked out a dozen books on the Revolutionary War for research.
Health - Saw a neat idea in Oprah Magazine - gleaned from the free exchange at the library today - to photograph each meal for a month to analyze what you eat and make healthier choices - won't count the fish fillet/large french fries/sprite supper tonight....
Spirit- My improv class was tonight and always makes me laugh a lot - which is a joy.
FI - Updated a lot of receipts.
Garden - Perused a garden seed magazine while the kids played at McDonalds.
House - lots of tidying up
Bus. Vocab - nada for tonight.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Day 261 - Nightly Roundup

Moroseness seems to have passed....those subconscious tapes working overtime....;-)

Marriage - Check. We are planning a few date nights to balance out our non-romantic roles as business partners;-)

Parenting - Did a lot of one on one play with Kai today after school. Kirk got me all to himself on Sunday.

Business - Had a meeting with a former Mattel executive to discuss our company and got some good ideas. In general, I'm amazed at the true generosity of people we've met in sharing ideas and suggestions.

Book - Thinking of moving from Lewis and Clark to the Revolutionary War.

Spirit- Did a bit more reading in the creative mind book - the gist of which is to focus on what you want and not what you don't.

Health - a wee bit of ab work.

Garden - Nada.

House - About 15 bags of donations ready to go in the front hall closet from the last week or so.

Bus. Vocab.- manufacturing resource planning, covered arbitrage, monetarism, monetary policy

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day 262 - Nightly Roundup

Happy 6th Birthday to Kirk!!!! You add so much joy to our lives.

I must admit some discouragement, tiredness, and trepidation at the entire undertaking of building a company this year. As of tonight, the house has been getting a bit crazy and I haven't done grocery shopping, we got an overdue notice on life insurance because that pile of bills was under some library books in the paper pile, we've been paying a lot more for convenience things (including a very expensive birthday party for Kirk at Gymborie) and I wonder do we seriously think we are going to start a new business, keep up with a house, the paperwork, the kids, the dog, the garden and yard (which will be starting up in spring) Greg's very demanding career and some sanity;-).

Kirk was having a tough time of it on Friday, a fit really, and so crazy in its intensity that I called Greg at work to come home and help me manage - a first. We finally concluded he was way over tired, stressed from both Greg and me being gone - me to NY and Greg to Florida last week, and a few other things. Greg came home to talk to him and Kirk fell asleep about 4:30, exhausted, while they talked.

Kai fell and hit his eye on the family room fireplace last week and still is walking around with a major shiner - which as you can imagine looks just great in all the birthday photos;-).

So enough of the whining;-). Keeping my mind on the good and not worrying about the future is a habit I still need to work on. There are many families that are running family businesses, have children, and still manage to not starve or have fire code violating clutter, so I'm sure we'll manage...

Marriage - check - though we both find ourselves bordering testy with the extra stress.

Parenting - I spent the day with Kirk to "fill him up" with some quality one on one time. After his Sunday school, we went our to lunch, then watched some ski racing, then went to the historical museum, then stopped at a thrift store where he was thrilled to find a lightsaber - which will be his third to date - for 30 cents.

Business - At the historical museum, one of the guides was just amazing in her storytelling, passionate about history, and I got her business card. I'm not sure how it may all fit together, but she was just so interesting and enthusiastic about history, that I can't help but think we were meant to meet.

Books - The second chapters from the writers weren't as good as the first and we will meet this Friday to work together. I know I'm asking a lot to work in the future/past/action, etc.

FI - Did a bit of bill paying tonight and went through a giant pile of mail for things to take care of tomorrow.

Spirit - Dear friend's husband still in intensive care. Most moments that puts all my stress into perspective. Sent her back with a Kelly Howell c.d. called the Universal Mind Meditation - it's very, very new age, but she promised to give it a listen.

Garden - Hoping to pot up some begonias tonight or tomorrow morning.

Health - Will do some cardio tonight - I'm addicted to The Millionaire Match Maker while I work out - I know, how sad;-).

House - Am still working on decluttering - when the house gets out of control, it adds a LOT of stress all around. Went on some declutter websites tonight for extra tips.

Bus. Vocab. Broad base index, need, title, book to market index

Friday, February 19, 2010

Home from NY Toy Fair

It's good to be home. The Toy Fair was wonderful as far as understanding more of the whole industry and seeing first hand more of the process. I wasn't able to find any pre-existing toy sets to use. But maybe that's a good sign no one else is doing it;-).

We may end up having to design from scratch and today I found a company in IL that does the process from design to prototype.

At the fair I got to listen to a presentation by the authors of the Toy Inventor's Handbook, which I'd read on the plane ride out. It was fun to hear first hand from people who've already been successful creating toys.

I stayed across the river from the Javvit Center as it was much cheaper and took the ferry each morning and evening - which was fun. But at $7.50 per one way, not an inexpensive form of travel! It was neat to be on the Hudson as one of the first stories I acted out with Kirk was about Washington crossing it after a battle - prior to his famous crossing of the Delaware. I didn't get to see much else in NY, but as this was the first time I went alone on a work trip, getting around in cabs, making reservations, and meeting people and exchanging business cards - my goal to become more of an independent business woman gained some serious yardage;-).

Otherwise, life is good. I'm working hard to enjoy the process and not get stressed. I'm reading a wonderful book called Creative Mind and Success and it stresses that you need to keep your mind always on the good, on what you want - never on what you don't/your fears/your worries. And boy is that hard to do! But if I can master it, what a joy each moment to only concentrate on the good!

And Greg, thanks for all you're doing! I couldn't do this without you!!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Day 265 - Nightly Roundup

Please continue to send good thoughts/prayers to friend in the hospital. It's a tough stretch for their family.

I wasn't sure what day to pick up on, so I estimated it at 265.

Business/Book: Since I last updated, I've confirmed all my travel plans for New York City for the International Toy Fair. I've had my third meeting with my writers and we've engaged a company to help with our logo. I attended a class of a history professor at the University who is intrigued with our concept, both as a teacher and as the dad of a five year old. When I get back from NY, we will meet and possibly he will become part of an advisory board. I met another person who has 20 years experience in direct mailing who actually discouraged us from using catalogues in a direct mail campaign, saying with a typical 1 percent response rate, you are getting very little feedback for a so much money - estimated at about $30,000 for catalogues, mailing lists, postage, etc. He suggested we look more to the internet. That night, I was at Accelerate Madison and one of the speakers is an expert in internet marketing, so I noted down his name and hope to contact him.

Marriage - Greg gave me a great pep talk tonight as I was finding my anxiety growing and enthusiasm dimming. Hoping we can be each other's support through the entire building a company process.

Parenting - Kirk came home with a great kindergarten report card on the plus side. We got a call from the principal that he'd been being bullied on the bus for awhile on the concern side. The school takes this very seriously and the other parents were contacted and it all seems resolved. Kai fell today and hit his eyebrow area on the edge of the fireplace hearth and is spouting a womper of a black eye. I called the doctor's office but the on call nurse said as long as the eye isn't red and doesn't completely swell shut, it's okay. Poor guy!

Gardening - Went to the Garden Show Expo with my aunt Carol today and drank in all the forced flowers and trees and got several begonia bulbs. I also learned of several public gardens nearby that I hadn't heard of so my aunt and I planned a few summer visits. I've also volunteered to help with a plant sale fund raiser for my church and habitat for humanity, so it's nice to think my gardening can be helping others.

FI - Starting a business has a fair amount of expenses. And as we're busier, I'm watching small things a lot less closely, paying more for convenience. I will have to see where this all leads. I like to think our expenses are investments - think Rich Dad Poor Dad as opposed to money spent with no return, but at this point, that takes a lot of faith.

Spirit - A wonderful friend is getting married in Hawaii and asked us to come. We weighed it all out and decided we'd go. I'm thrilled beyond words to be part of her special event! I've never been there and heard it is a plant lovers' paradise - a decided plus. We're staying on the island of Kauii (sp?). Hawaii has been on my dream list, so it's thrilling to see it come true. Last weekend another great friend and I went to Milwaukee and had a wonderful time eating at Chez Jaques and visiting the Pabst Historical Mansion. So lot of happy time enjoying friendships.

Health/beauty - with the Hawaii trip out there five weeks away, a renewed determination to eat healthier and exercise more has arisen;-). I leave tomorrow morning for NY, but will hit it hard when I get back.

House - Some more progress on decluttering. Very little to no time for thrift store shopping so a lot less stuff coming in and more of a net gain in the simplifying;-).

Bus. Vocab. Getting a bit behind here. Will catch up upon my return.

Happy wishes to each of you!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Day 268

Just got a call from a good friend with a family member in the hospital. So please send out prayers and good thoughts to the universe for her and her family.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Day 269 Nightly Roundup

I continue to expand my I met my parents and brother for an afternoon at the MONSTER TRUCK JAM! Wow - that in one noisy venue. We met earlier at Quiznos for a quick lunch. The kids were mesmerized by the smashed cars, though Kai got a bit teary as we were leaving, wanting reassurance that they would "fix those cars."

Marriage - Check - Partly the gift to Greg of six hours in our quiet house rather than sitting in the Monster truck arena;-_)
Parenting - Kids had an awesome time.
Business - This was held in Rockford and there are so many going out of business, for lease, and for sale signs everywhere you looked in the commercial district that it reinforced for me that I don't want to be held to a brick and mortar investment and wonder if the high overhead costs of so many stores will force a lot to go to internet marketplaces - and if this means the end of strip malls and that maybe this is a good thing for the environment??
Book - Will look again at a storyboard outline of the main events.
Spirit - Had a really nice, albeit short time to visit with my parents and brother. We couldn't talk at the jam - you needed earplugs.
Garden - Am going to bring in some more Hyacinth from the garage tonight to force.
FI - Went through a gigantic pile of mail and paid a bunch of bills and made a pile for tax items.
Health - Did 20 cardio and will do a bit of ab work tonight.
House - Will double dip and count almost three hours of paperwork yesterday.
Bus. Vocab. - direcxt pay letter of credit, cash commodity, abstract, after hours trading.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Day 270 - Nightly Roundup

My current reading and the kids having a wild and crazy time at a party.

Hello to all! If you notice the gap in dates, I did achieve a lot in the days between 275 and 270, but by the time evening rolled around, just wanted to climb into bed and sleep.

A lot has happened, my goal was to stretch myself, dig a bit deeper to see what I can do. And that has happened;-). There are days when I find myself thinking starting a new business takes a lot out of you, and days when I think starting a new business puts a whole lot into you.

A tiny example of this is I'm far less shy about calling people that I don't know. A few days ago I finally got ahold of someone at our church to offer to help organize a plant sale for Habitat for Humanity. Then I called a women's prison here in WI called Taycheedah Correctional Center to see if they would be interested in a book drive for their library (an idea I got from an Oprah show). I'm still waiting to hear back as I was given the voicemail of the head of education.

Similarly, I had a meeting with a potential toy designer yesterday and no longer feel anxious about such meetings, just focused on trying to get the idea across in a way that can be understood and moved forward.

I've now had two meetings with my wonderful mentor group and am learning to balance a lot of opinions while trying to keep a specific vision. I've had two classes for my improvisation course and am learning you have to be in the moment to do improv and really listen to the person speaking. If you tune out or preplan what you want to say - it doesn't work as improv - and I must admit that being in the moment and really listening is something to work on in both my personal and professional life. It's a sort of "yes and..." rather than "yes, but" approach to conversations.

I saw Food Inc on Oprah and that made me want to recommit to at least an 80 percent vegan and whole food approach. Kirk wanted to go to McDonalds yesterday for their big play structure, so we got veggie burgers at Burger King, then french fries and a drink at McDonalds. The kids didn't like the veggie burgers at all - too spicy - but at least it was trying out something new. I will check out Whole Foods next week to find what other options are out there.

I will be heading to NYC in another week or so for the international toy show. I'm a bit anxious as I've never traveled New York alone, but excited too. I've been reading a LOT of books about how boys learn to read, what struggles boys face, building a company, and building a brand. It's all quite interesting when you immediately get to apply what you're learning.

I do need to stop and check in with the kids a lot. Kai goes to a part-time preschool/daycare and they sent home a report the other day that said a lot of good things, but also mentioned that he often instigates conflict with the other kids - i.e. knocking down another kid's block tower. Everything you read says your true priorities show up in how you spend your time and I do see at least in the last two months, the business concept has taken front and center. That needs to be corrected in terms of quantity/quality time with the kids. Greg assures me starting a new company is like have a newborn and it just needs more of your attention to get through those first few months and I'm hoping he's right.

My writers both turned in their first chapters. They are taking different approaches and we're going to have them write about three chapters using completely separate ideas, then test these with moms and dads and kids and pick the best approach. This part is a lot of fun. We also hired a professional company to help us with our logo and just today found a college kid with quite a bit of experience to help us with our website development.

Greg and I are learning to work together as a team. We've had a few rocky bits as we're both used to being in charge in our own domains - he's the managing partner for his law firm and used to being in charge. Similarly, I'm used to being in charge in teaching or here at home. Fortunately, we've built up a lot of good will in a dozen years of marriage, both respect each other's abilities and realize we are a lot stronger as a team than as individually. And this sharing of risk/reward in the company is definitely stretching our marriage - in a good way - more as equals.

Well, that's a long update. How are the rest of you doing. Are you getting stronger? Do you feel a bit overwhelmed at times? Just keep plodding on, day by day, inch by inch, and I believe we'll all be amazed what the end of the year brings.

Good wishes!! Eileen

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Nightly Roundup Apologies

With apologies - it has been a super, super busy, very productive stretch and I collapse into bed each night. Will update in the next few days. Good wishes to all! Eileen