Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Second Favorite Day of the Year

Don't forget to enter our Spunk & Love giveaway here.


Today is my second favorite day of the year.

My first favorite is Christmas.

My second favorite is the day we go to the CHA... the Craft and Hobby Association Trade Show.

That day is today.


I gotta go see some paper now.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pregnancy Journals by Spunk & Love

Guess what???  I have a giveaway for you!  I have no idea how long it has been since I have done a giveaway, and I am extra excited about this one because it's from my BFF's shop.

I have told you about Megan's shop before here, when I told you all about her Birthday Books.  But she has just introduced a new product that I am so excited to share with you today.

Check out these Pregnancy Journals

I had a pregnancy journal when I was pregnant with Beau.  I got it on the bargain bin table at Barnes & Noble.  It was not the cutest thing I had ever seen, but I had never seen a pregnancy journal so I loved it.  And I still treasure it.  I never made Beau a baby book, so my pregnancy journal is all we've got!  I wish mine was half as cute as these.

Megan's books have four sections, one for each trimester, and one called "your arrival".

There are places to record all the best moments of pregancy {and even some of the not-so-best moments}.

Are you pregnant?  I bet you are wishing you had one of these now.

So here's the great news:  
Spunk & Love is giving away one of their fabulous books to one of my fabulous readers
And if you're not pregnant, don't worry because you can choose one of their Birthday Books instead. 

Here's how to enter:

Check out Spunk & Love here and come back and tell me which adorable design you like the best.  {I am partial to the Beau and the Penelope.}

For extra entries, leave a SEPARATE COMMENT for each of the following:
  • Become a follower of this blog {or let me know if you already are a follower}
  • Like Spunk & Love on Facebook here
  • Heart Spunk & Love on Etsy here
  • Pin a picture of one of Spunk & Love's items on Pinterest
  • Tweet about this giveaway
  • Post a link to this giveaway on Facebook
The giveaway will close on Tuesday night {1/31/12} at midnight PST time, and I will announce the winner Wednesday morning.

Giveaway open to US Residents only.

Oh wait... I forgot the best part!!!  Megan is offering my readers 20% off her entire shop, now thru Wednesday, February 1st!  Just enter the code MAAY20 at checkout.  And if you order now and win this giveaway, Megan will refund the purchase of {1} book!  Isn't she thoughtful???  That's why she's my BFF.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Rest of the Story...

There's something that I've been wanting to share here, but it's a bit touchy and I know that I need to share carefully to be certain that you hear clearly the reason that I am sharing.

So let's just start with that - I am sharing this story today to give God the glory for all He has done for our family this year.  Period.  So please, please hear that.

Okay, so those of you that have been around here for any length of time know that almost 10 months ago our family was blessed with our precious baby girl, Penelope.  If you don't know our journey you can read more about it here, but let me briefly sum it up:

Two years ago I held a raffle on this blog to raise money for our adoption costs.  I mentioned at the time that we had some friends that had amazingly offered to pay for the majority of the adoption, but that we expected our portion to be about $5,000 or $6,000.  In one week we raised a whopping $6085!  It was overwhelming and touching and God's confirmation that He had a plan for our family that included adoption.

This last March we were contacted by our agency about a potential match for us, and long story short... just 7 days later we held our baby girl in our arms. {For the long story, read here, here and here.}

I shared a lot about what happened that week, but one major thing, one really significant part of the story, I left out.

I want to tell you now.

I'm just going to kind of retell the story, so those of you who have not read it before will not be lost.  {It's a fun story, so even if you have read it... please read again.  You won't want to miss the new details.}

One Wednesday afternoon I was packing to leave for my cousin's funeral and I got a phone call from our agency that there was a potential match for us.  This was the second time we had gotten a phone call about a potential match, and the first time it took an agonizing week for them to call back and tell us that the birth mom had chosen another family.

I called Nathan with the details and we decided that we did want to be presented to this birth mom, so I called the agency back and gave them the green light.  They said that they were going to be presenting her with three or four families that evening.

I figured we would have to just put it out of our minds until we got home from the funeral, but I texted my friend that was planning to pay for the adoption, just to let her know that there was a possibility that we could be matched soon.

What I got back from her were several panic-stricken texts basically telling me that they did not have the money to give us at that time. 

I panicked myself, and called Nathan to find out what we should do.  He was right in the middle of something important at work and told me we would have to talk about it when he got home, but I was afraid that would be too late.  I knew that if this birth mother chose us and we had to back out it would kill me.  It wasn't fair to her, and it wasn't fair to my fragile heart that had already had too many no's over the last seven years.  But Nathan assured me that we would figure it out if this was our baby.

I spent the next several hours panicking.  I finally got a hold of my mother who said to me,
"Emmy, there have been many delays in this process for you, but God's timing is perfect, and if this is your baby than He will provide the way."

I felt much better.

While I was still talking to my mom Nathan called to say he was on his way home.  He also said that he was confident that this was our baby, and that we would figure out the finances.  For my husband to say that was a miracle in itself.  He likes to have our financial ducks in a row.  The fact that he was at peace about this gave me the peace I needed.

So I went back to packing and tried to put the potential match out of my mind, since I figured it would be several days until we would hear anything.

The next day, less than 24 hours later, in a parking garage in San Luis Obispo, we got the call.

The baby girl, that they had originally told me was due in three weeks, would be arriving by induction in just 8 days.  Which meant that we now officially had less than a week to come up with about $20,000.

We put that aside for the time, and reveled in the excitement of the fact that the baby we had waited seven very long years for was on her way into our family.

The next two days we racked our brains trying to figure out how in the heck we were going to have $20,000 in just a few days.  I thought about having a calendar pre-sale, but realized that I would have to sell about 550 calendars in five days to make that work.  It wouldn't.  I thought maybe we could sell one of our cars, but they're old and not worth $20,000.  Plus then I wouldn't have a car.  That might be tough with an infant.

Saturday morning as we laid in my sister's hotel room trying desperately to find a solution, I suggested we try taking out a personal loan from our bank.  Nathan didn't think we would qualify, since we had pretty much just maxed ourselves out purchasing our home, but we decided it was worth a try.

We called the bank {because our bank is a credit union and it is open on Saturday mornings}, and I spoke with a loan officer.  It took about five minutes to apply for $20,000.  She told me that they usually have an answer in 24 hours, but since it was the weekend I should expect to hear from them Monday or possibly Tuesday.  Which meant that if we didn't get the loan, we would have about 2 days to find another solution.

We left for breakfast with my whole family.

An hour later, while we were still at the restaurant, I got a call from the bank.  We had been approved for the loan and could have the money by Monday morning.

I called my friend to tell her that we had the funds taken care of, and she assured me that they should have the money before I even had to make my first loan payment.  Which was good since I had no idea where we were going to come up with an extra $450 a month.

A couple of days after we brought our baby home from the hospital, my friend and her husband came over to meet her.  They again assured us that they would come through with the money within weeks.

I saw them a couple more times after that, by random coincidence, but that was basically the last we heard from those friends.

Without sharing too much of their story I will just say that all hell broke loose in their lives.  They are currently separated, living several states apart, and completely broke.  And I know all this because she is a blogger, and for a brief stint a couple of months ago she made her blog public and I caught up.  I requested access to her blog long ago, but she has never granted it to me.

Now, I want to again be super, super clear here: I am not mad at my friend.  I harbor absolutely no bitterness.  I feel nothing but complete gratitude that God brought her into my life, even for a brief season.  If she had not offered to help us with this adoption we would never have met our Penelope.  We would never have thought that we could do this on our own.  I know that her friendship had purpose, and that God used her, even if it wasn't in the way that she had hoped.  I have tried to reach out to her.  I sent her an email explaining all of this, and telling her that I missed our friendship, but I'm afraid her embarrassment keeps her from responding.

And it's okay.  I get it.  But I miss her.

There are really two reasons that I felt I needed to share this here.  One, like I said, is to give God the glory for once again providing for our family in a way that only He could.  He performed a miracle that week in our lives.  A modern day miracle.  It would have been easy for the praise to be given to our friends instead of the Lord who provides all things.  Even the money they would have given us.

The other reason I wanted to share is that I want other families out there to know that adoption is possible.  In the end, we payed about $35,000 out of our pockets for this adoption.  The loan has been paid in full, and our tax return will pay the last of what we put on a credit card.  I am telling you this because I want you to see that out of the $6,000 that we had in savings, God paid a $35,000 bill.

Fishes and loaves.

If you are hesitating to start an adoption journey because you have no idea how you will come up with the money, please just put one foot in front of the other and start the process.  Don't let money be the thing that keeps you from getting a baby.  There are grants and funding available, and you will get a huge tax credit from Uncle Sam the year your adoption is finalized.

There are also people that are willing to help.  Ask.  And then accept their help.

Get creative.  Hold a raffle, have a bingo night, ask friends to donate items to a garage sale.

Maybe you could consider starting with Foster Care.

Just please don't let money be the thing that keeps you from getting a baby

I truly, truly hope that you have heard my heart here.  I love my friend and I pray for God's great provision in her life as well.

I just felt like my readers, who have been so amazing and supportive throughout this journey needed to know the rest of the story.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

3552 Dimes

My pastor said something a few weeks ago that struck a cord with me.  He said, "Sometimes success is more difficult to handle than failure.  Sometimes the failure is the blessing."

It made me think that maybe Much Ado About You failing would be a blessing, because its "success" has certainly been difficult. 

I have mentioned a few times on this blog the fact that my business, while wonderful and my dream job, has yet to be profitable.  I think I have said that while working my tail off for three+ years, I have not made a dime.

Until now.

Nathan finished my books for 2011 yesterday, and I am so excited to say that Much Ado About You has finally turned a profit.  In 2011 we made 3,552 dimes to be exact.

Now, for those of you that are not mathematically gifted... that is $355.20.  Or, as Nathan calculated for me: 17 cents an hour.

This may seem ridiculous to some of you, but to me it is a really big deal.  Payoff.  Confirmation.  Profit.  The encouragement that I needed to keep going.

And hope that 2012 will bring a few more dimes.  Just a few.

UPDATE:  Nathan just called to inform me that it was actually $1,355.20.  That's freaking 13,552 dimes!!!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Hello 2012

2011 was quite a year.  For almost everyone I know, it was full of high highs and low lows.

For our family:

We settled into our new house, our first real grown-up house, and are still pinching ourselves at the wonderful home that God provided for our family after years of searching and waiting out the ridiculous California Real Estate Market.

We mourned the loss of my beloved cousin, unable to understand God's timing, but knowing that he lived more in his 35 years than most do in a lifetime.

We received the most amazing gift of all when in one whirlwind week we found out that we had been matched with a baby girl, and brought our precious Penelope home from the hospital just 8 days later.

I was able to take an extended maternity leave from my shop, and my amazingly loyal and supportive customers patiently waited while I enjoyed time with my sweet newborn.

I re-opened my shop, and had the most amazing month of all time... doubling my previous highest sales month and totally overwhelming my production, in a good way.

We grieved the end of a marriage in our family.

We had a fantastic Christmas, grateful for our Savior's birth, and then enjoyed 10 whole days of vacation time with my husband home from work and my shop closed, ending in a quick anniversary getaway to celebrate 11 amazing years of marriage.

I hope that your year has been one of blessings, growth, and seeing God's handprint in your life.

Now, on to 2012!

I have to admit something that may surprise some of you: I have really debated whether or not to continue Much Ado About You in 2012.  I have spent the last several weeks going back and forth... some minutes thinking that I can't possibly keep up, and then the next minutes knowing that I can't possibly give it up.

Let me just say this: owning a small handmade business is hard.  Very, very hard. 

It is not glamorous.  It is not a hobby.  It is not lucrative.  That's where the problem comes in.

I have been running this business for about three and a half years now.  Between the months of August to January I work 70+ hours a week.  I don't really get to enjoy Thanksgiving or Christmas because I am busy.  Very, very busy.  I dream about calendars and convos and shipping labels.

And to date I have not made a single dime. 

I have sold somewhere around 3,000 calendars {I don't know the exact number because I have been too busy to count}, and I have not made any profit.

I am not complaining.  I am very aware that most start-up businesses do not turn a profit for three to five years.  I also know that I have had some major growing pains along the way, mostly thanks to printers and failed marketing ideas. But the reality is that after three seasons of working my tail off, I have yet to be able to give myself a paycheck. 

And for the most part I am okay with that.  I know that this business does not have to be about financial blessing for me {for more on that, see this post}.  But when I find myself daydreaming about cleaning my house, folding laundry, and making dinner {things I rarely get to do anymore} I have to wonder if it is time for a change

Yesterday I read this post by my friend Rachel, and it really hit home for me.  I want to simplify my life in 2012. 

But when I get right down to it, I don't want to quit Much Ado About You.  I love my business, I love my customers, and I love being a part of the handmade community.  Love it. 

So, for now... Much Ado About You goes on.

We will be open through mid-February, then will likely close up shop until summer to plan and prepare for the new line.  Expect some changes.  More on that at a later date.

I am not one for New Year's Resolutions {maybe because I don't diet or exercise}, but this year I want to set some goals in hopes that it will help guide me to a more peaceful, simplified 2012.

So here they are... my Goals for 2012.

1.  Make Money
The truth is that in order to justify the strain that this business is on my life and family, it needs to be profitable.  So this is it.  We turn a profit in 2012 or we close the doors in 2013.  I am making that commitment to myself and my husband right now.

2.  Blog 2 or 3 Times a Week
I love blogging, but it is the first thing that gets cut from the to-do list when that list is too long.  But I miss the interaction with my blog readers, and I miss the outlet of having a place to share my randomness. 

3.  Get More Sleep
This will be accomplished two ways... getting my way-too-old-not-to-be-sleeping-through-the-night baby to sleep through the night, and going to bed earlier.

4.  Get the House Organized
We moved last December in the midst of my super busy season, and just as the dust settled on Much Ado About You, we got a call about a baby.  Nothing ever really got put away properly, and the disorganization is driving me nuts.

5.  Finish my Bible Study
Last year I started writing a Bible Study on Infertility, which is really just about why God allows suffering in our lives.  I was on a roll and feeling very inspired... and then we got a call about a baby. 

So that's it.  This turned out to be a very long post, and I'm sure I have lost most of you by now, but having it up here on my blog will serve as motivation for me to follow through.

I hope that I haven't lost too many of you in my absence, and I hope you will join me as we make 2012 the best year yet!  {Wow... that was a little cheesy.}