Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Got Freedom? 10k

Now that I have committed to my half marathon, I am trying to do one race a month to get me ready.  Training is going fine, but since I'm new to races, I still get a bit anxious before and also want to make sure my pre and post race routines are good before the big one.

Sunday I ran in a 10k in Arlington Heights called Got Freedom?  There was a 5k walk/run on part of the same course. It wound around the residential areas of Arlington Heights.  We did need to cross some big streets a few times but there were police officers at each of those blocking traffic, so never had to slow down.  

I had two goals for this race - run the whole thing without walk breaks (which I did) and in a perfect world finish in under an hour.  My usual 5k is just under half an hour but I knew I was going to have to slow my pace down to not have to walk any.  Final time was 1:01:48.  

Not bad.  Would have been better if I hadn't gotten stuck in line for the 5 portapotties (yep only 5 for over 400 people) before the race.  I started behind a bunch of walkers so it took me a little bit to get my pace up, not making excuses just know I need to stage better next time.

Also another mistake I made was assuming the finish line was at the same spot as the start line.  I sped up at the end thinking I was close but the actual finish was about half a mile further.  I didn't run out of gas but close. The expo at the end was well done.  Lots of different things to refuel with - bananas, bagels. energy bars, jelly bellys and of course water.  

I had never heard of Salute Inc before this but they sound like a great organization.  They help military families who may be struggling at home while their spouse is deployed and help veterans when they come home with rehab or whatever else they may need to transition back to life back home.

As proud as I was of my own mini accomplishments I saw two recent veterans come across the finish line.  One was a 20 something woman using a walker for the 5k walking with her mom.  The other was a young man in a wheelchair being pushed by his Mom and accompanied by other family members.  I don't know the nature of their injuries but assume they were wounded in action and working to rehab.  They were greeted with a load round of applause by the assembled crowd.

As usual there were a bunch of stands promoting upcoming races and I found my August race - Fort To Base It's a 10 nautical mile course - 11.45 miles to us landlubbers.  The course goes from Ft Sheridan to the Great Lakes Naval Station.  The base is usually closed to the public but is open from the start of the race until noon.  It's a bit far from our house, but it sounds like a cool race, will be right at the mileage I should be at at that point, and I think it'll be cool for the kids to see the base. Also they hand out medals to all the finishers.  I've done a few races now but haven't done one that gives finishers medals yet. I doubt I'll ever place high enough to get a winners medal so look forward to a finishers medal.

Now I just need to find my July race.  I'm thinking of doing another 10k in Arlington Heights as it is convenient, and since I'm working on increasing my distance a 5k doesn't really seem worth it.  Also I'm curious to see if I make the changes I listed above if I could finish under an hour - the only tricky part is we'll be coming back from vacation shortly before that.  I wish there were just one website that listed all the races in my area.  I've checked a few different sites and they all list different races.  Any one know of a good 8-10k in July?

Friday, May 24, 2013

We Survived Dance Week

My daughters both take dance.  Little Reader took Ballet/Jazz this year, and Little Hugger took pre-hop. While I would have preferred they had taken the same class I didn't want to push it, although both in one class would have been more convenient.  They both took their classes through our local park district but because they have so many classes they have two recitals and of course we ended up having two different recital times.  Which meant two different days for pictures, two different days for dress rehearsals, and two performances for my husband, Little Man and I to attend.

It was a crazy and tiring day with only and hour and a half in between shows.  Luckily the recitals were at a school which had a nice playground in the back so they were able to burn off some energy and have some fun between shows.

 Little Reader danced to Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend"  I told her to give me attitude for this one

Little Reader danced to Khachaturian's "Dance of the Rose Maidens" so I told her to give me a "ballet" pose.

They both did a great job and had a lot of fun over the course of the year.  Thankfully, Little Reader decided that she would rather do a contemporary class next year and she has decided to take a class with her sister, so next year we will hopefully have an easier May :) 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Confessions of a Lia Sophia Addict

A friend of mine  had a Christmas party four years ago and had a Lia Sophia rep there.  I had never heard of the jewelry and even though I don't consider myself a jewelry person (I used to wear the same pieces almost everyday, and even though I got my ears pierced when I was 12 I hardly ever wear earrings) I really liked what I saw in the catalog.  The advisor played "Deal/No Deal" with us and I ended up winning a piece of free jewelry and a party of my own.

My party was small but I still took advantage of all the free, hostess and half price deals I could.  Since then every February and August I eagerly await the new catalogs.  I've ordered a few individual pieces directly through advisors.

I check out the list of retired pieces in July and January to make sure I don't miss something.

I check for new specials at the last Monday of every month.

I have "liked" numerous advisors' Facebook pages based on the fact that they have giveaways/ deals/ headsups on upcoming specials.

I have the Lia app on my phone.

Shortly after the new catalog came out in February I came up with a wishlist of almost $700 worth of jewelry.  I called the advisor from the most recent party I had attended and booked a party.

I earned a ton of new items after that party, but still have a long wish list.  I will be attending a party next week (that will be my 5th Lia Sophia party attended in four years and I have hosted 2).

I know I said I don't consider myself a jewelry person but I really like this line.  They have a wide variety of styles and while there are always plenty of pieces that are not my style, there are many that are.  I've gotten in the bad habit of throwing clothes on the morning, when I take a little extra time to think about what I'm going to wear and accessorize, I feel better about myself.  When I bump into someone I know in town I can hold my head high knowing I look good, instead of thinking I should have taken the extra couple of minutes getting dressed that morning.

Bottom line - I have seriously been considering selling Lia Sophia.   I've made a list of every woman I know and came up with over 150.  I ran the numbers to see how much I would have to sell before I would earn commission.  I have come up with a month by month plan of how to grow my business.  I came up with a list of ways to market the business.  I scoured the internet and managed to find some unprotected "advisor-only" documents.

The problem is I don't want to do home parties.  I know this is the basis of Lia Sophia's business, but I'm way to introverted to do it.  Lately I've seen some catalog and on-line shows.  I'm not sure how viable those really are though?  I think those are usually extras for busy advisors who do the usual home parties.  To be fair I'm going to start by asking the advisor who ran my last party, and if she thinks I'm insane I'll check with some of the advisors I found through Facebook.  I know this is not how the company wants their advisors to do things as everyone makes more money doing home parties, but my main goal is free jewelry for me, not paying the bills.

Any Lia or other jewelry reps out there, I'd love your input.  Am I crazy to think this could work, or can I make this work?

10 Hostess Tips for having a Successful Lia Sophia party

I don't sell Lia Sophia but I have hosted 2 parties and attended 3 others. To help hostesses out there earn lots of great free jewelry I figured I'd share what I've learned.

1. Guest list - it is my experience (and two advisors have confirmed this) that no matter who you invite only about 25-33% will actually attend.While these parties are a fun excuse for a girl's night out, people feel pressured to buy so usually won't attend unless they want to buy the products. To maximize your freebies and bonuses for Lia Sophia you need to 10 people to place orders and 2 people to book shows.  To hit that 10 order minimum invite at least 40 people.

2. The second part to earning your 40% is having 2 friends book their own show.  At both my shows only 1 person booked their own show.  The first show was pretty small though.  The advisor I worked with recently mentioned that in her experience younger women book shows, but don't buy as much and older women buy more but don't book as many shows. This has been my experience too.  If you don't get two bookings at your actual party, encourage anyone who can't attend to book their own show.  Emphasize the perks and bonuses.  If you have a friend who is on the fence ask your advisor if she's willing to sweeten the deal with a bling card - aka a Lia Sophia gift card.  My advisor offered to give one piece valued at $100 or less for free for my friend if she booked.

3. Choose your date carefully, obviously you want to pick a day that works well for you, but think about the people you are inviting and their availability. We have a lot of Greek and Eastern Orthodox people in our area and I booked my party on their Good Friday without realizing it - and lost 5 potential guests right there. 2 others had their children's communions that weekend. So 7 people were already out due to planning their own parties/family gatherings.

4. Consider hosting with a friend. Increases your guest list and your chances of getting that 2 shows booked.

5. Hype your party before you send invites. The advisor will usually send your invites for you about 3-4 weeks before the party. As I mentioned mine included mini-catalogs with the invites so people could easily see some of the jewelry. A link to the full website is a also a good idea so they can see everything, but the mini catalog was a good teaser to get them interested enough to check out the website. Create an event on Facebook. My advisor did this and posted pictures of jewelry and notice of specials as the party got closer.

6. Send out your invites early enough that you can move to your B list if necessary. As I got closer to the party I realized there were other people I would have liked to invite but it was too close to party day for it not to be obvious they were B list. 

7. Be a walking advertisement - assuming you already have some pieces wear them leading up to the party (preferably current pieces, but even retired ones will give people an idea of the styles available).

8. Depending on how many respond yes, you may want to open up the party to more day of. The day before my party was raining and miserable. So I posted on FB, that the best way to fight rainy day blues was with some sparkle - join me for cocktails and Lia Sophia jewelry.

9. Have fun with the party but don't go so overboard with drinks and food that you spend more than you earn. You also don't want your friends to think they have to go to the same level or above to host their own show, and feel intimidated to host a show. You can still have a theme and have fun but set a budget and stick to it.

10. Your advisor will most likely leave your show open for a couple of days after your party. This gives you time to figure out what you want to buy, but also gives those who couldn't make it a chance to purchase online through your advisor's page - and contribute to your earnings. Promote that option through email, Facebook, Twitter whatever.

Have fun!!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Spaghetti & Meatballs

1 lb ground beef
1 egg, beaten
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup italian bread crumbs

2 - 14 1/2 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 - 6 oz can tomato paste
1/3 cup water
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried marjoram

Combine meat, egg, garlic, cheese, and bread crumbs in a bowl.  

Heat a deep nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and drizzle in oil.  Roll small balls and drop into hot pan. When all the meatballs are in the pan, give the pan a good shake and cover.  Cook for about five minutes, turning the meatballs frequently, remove from the pan before cooked through completely

Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, water and herbs to the pan.  Stir well to combine, and cook over medium heat - about 5-10 minutes.  Once sauce has thickened, add meatballs back to the sauce and cook a few minutes more until meatballs are cooked through.

Serve over spaghetti. 

Understanding Incentives

Today I told Little Man that before he did anything else he had to clean up the mess in the playroom.  After a couple of minutes of tidying, he asked, "Mommy, after I finish cleaning up can I have a treat?"
"No, you just had a cookie with your lunch"
"Well, what can I have?"
"A hug and a kiss for being a good helper"
"ok...... Wait, what kind of kiss?  The chocolate one or one on my cheek?
"One on your cheek"
Deep sigh, "ok" and back he went to cleaning up.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

My First Official 5k Race

This morning there was a 5k race here in town and I figured since it was so convenient - starting line was less than a mile from my house - I should run it.  I got up early ran down to the starting line and waited for the start.

It was a pretty small race, only about 300 people ran (kids and adults).  Since it was so small there was obviously no corraling, but also not much warning of a start time.  About 10 minutes before the start they had us all gather at the starting line and then as I was standing there talking to a friend all of a sudden, I heard them say "GO!" and people started running.  A little warning to get my playlist and endomondo set up would have been nice, but I'm happy to say the race went well.

Official time - 27:34.  I came in 58th overall and 3rd in my age group.

I also got my goodie bag for my half marathon in the mail on Friday.  My sister has decided to fly in and run it with me, which will be cool.  She's done a couple of halfs before and was planning on running one near her that weekend anyway, but when I told her my plan to do it as an MS fundraiser in my Mom's honor, she registered to do the one with me instead.

Drama, Drama, Drama

Yesterday was Little Hugger's birthday. It started out a great day - sun was shining it was warm out, she had a good day at school. After school, things got a little more interesting.

Little Reader had dance class so I took Little Hugger and Little Man to the playground. We hadn't been there long before I heard Little Hugger screaming/crying and running at me with her hand at her mouth and blood on her hand. Between sobs, she told me she had knocked a tooth out, I took a quick look and figured she was ok - top tooth, still baby teeth - and took her to the bathroom. We cleaned her up, got an ice pack from the park district and once she had calmed down I looked a little harder. Front right tooth gone, left very wiggly.

I called the dentist but she was closed. Since these are baby teeth, I decided not an emergency and I'll call DDS tomorrow when she opens her office and let her decide if I should bring her in for a check -professional courtesy :). My husband has been called away from enough family things for "emergencies" that weren't, Dr Mom, now also a DDS, decided this can wait. Besides within a few minutes and finding the knocked out tooth on the offending piece of playground equipment we were all joking about that at least this time she had something to show the tooth fairy, unlike her first three lost teeth which she swallowed.

After Little Reader's dance class I drove her to soccer practice and then back to the dance building to get Little Hugger changed for her dance recital pictures. Opened her bag and realized I only had the belt. In my infinite wisdom the day before I decided to hang up her costume so it wouldn't be wrinkled. So where was it now? Hanging nicely in her closet. Luckily we had enough time to zoom home, pick up the costume, have her change in the car, and then be back in time for pictures.

So what's the third drama? We had our basement carpet cleaned today and while the guy was down in our basement he told me he noticed one of our goldfish was lying down on the bottom of the tank. I went down and peeked later, and sure enough, one had died. No real love lost here. Still since we just had the carpets cleaned I didn't want to spend too much time in the basement so went back upstairs. Later in the afternoon I took another peek, and the fish was gone. Not sure if the healthy fish ate the dead one - didn't realize goldfish were cannibals - but I'm not looking forward to cleaning the tank tomorrow.

Still, despite the drama, it was a good day. My birthday girl had a good day (despite the tooth) ending with her favorite meal - Mac & cheese and my chocolate chip cookies - presents, and after writing a note to the tooth fairy she went to bed with a smile on her face.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Birthday Number Two of the Week

Wednesday was Little Man's birthday which was just as chaotic as Little Hugger's but less dramatic, thankfully.  As we were walking his sister's to school he told everyone we saw it was his birthday. I dropped him off at school with cupcakes for his class. His teacher gave him a birthday crown which he very proudly wore for the rest of the day.  I left for a little while and then went back to school for Grandparent's Day - since we don't have any grandparents near by, the teacher said I could come.  They showed us what they do in their daily routine, we did a craft together, sang songs and released the butterflies that they have had in their classrooms since they were caterpillars.  His teacher kept getting choked up talking as the school year is winding down and she sad she's sad to see them go.

After lunch I brought Little Hugger to the dentist to make sure her teeth were ok.  Luckily everything was fine, and she pulled out the second very loose tooth rather than letting it hang.  So now she has a really gummy smile.

After school we hurried off to piano lessons, and then Little Reader had her dance pictures.  We didn't get home until after 7, had a quick taco dinner followed by cake and presents (lots of Superheros, Star Wars stuff).  I felt bad for Little Man, cause he basically got the presents unwrapped, got all excited about them and then was sent to bed.  Thankfully he doesn't go to school on Thursdays so promising him that we could play together the next day.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Little Man Story 2 of 2 - Nice Try Trader Joe

Last week I took Little Man to Trader Joes to pick up a few things. I told him that if he found Gorilla Joe he would get a prize. He found him pretty easily and when we went to check out, he told the cashier. The cashier told him that he could choose a prize out of the treasure chest. He ran excitedly over to the chest, opened it up and it was full of ......... clementines. He looked at me rather stunned and very disappointed. . The cashier noticed and offered some scratch and sniff stickers instead which made Little Man very happy.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Lia Sophia Success

Friday night was a fun and successful night. I had 10 friends show up for my party and based on the sales I earned $240 in free jewelry. Only 1 friend booked her own party so I only earned 20% of the sales. If I got one more friend to book a party normally I would earn 40% in free jewelry but for the month of May Lia Sophia is giving hostesses with 10 orders an 2 bookings 60% of their shows sales in free jewelry - for me that would be $720 worth of jewelry for free!!!!!

I've reached out to a couple of friends who couldn't make the show to see if they want to help me by booking their own, but not sure if they will.  I know I have a few followers in Chicagoland, so if you're interested in booking a show of your own, let me know.   I don't sell Lia Sophia myself, but I'd put you in touch with my advisor so I can get my second booking.  The advisor lives in Round Lake but was willing to drive to the Northwest city limits to do my party.  If you book a show through her, I'll commit to placing an order at your party (I don't have to be there, I can order online - unless of course you want me there).

Even if I don't get the 60% it was still a successful evening - had a fun evening catching up with friends and got $892 worth of jewelry for $173.80 (along with the free jewelry you get to pick out 4 pieces at special hostess prices, and up to 5 pieces at 50% off.  I laid out $125 in party expenses for food and wine, so overall a great deal and a fun night.

If you're interested, check out the jewelry here

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Little Man - Part 1 of 2

I have two cute little stories about Little Man that I need to post so I don't forget, but will post them separately so I don't get too long.

One thing you need to know, Little Man LOVES capes. He has a reversible Batman/Spiderman one (I know Spidey doesn't wear a cape but we saw this in an independent toy store - which are far an few between these days so I like to support them when I can - and he loves it), a Superman one, and a basic black that is part of a Darth Vader costume.

Sometimes he'll wear the whole outfit, but most times he just wears the cape - who can blame him? Capes are cool.

Today I took him to Little Hugger's first grade class for "Book Brag". Parents go to the class and the kids read to them. There was a substitute there. As soon as we walk in he looked at Little Man - who today was uncharacteristically capeless - and asked, "Is this Superman?". I answered, "Some days, but today he's just himself". I obviously looked at him questioningly, because he told me that along with subbing he works at our local liquor store/packie and had noticed us yesterday when I was picking up stuff for my party and Little Man was wearing his Superman cape.

I guess Little Man needs to try a little harder to hide his secret super identity.