Hudson’s 19 month update

19 months – time flies when you’re having fun!

growth

Well I didn’t weigh or measure him this month but we’ve noticed that his stomach is definitely pooching out of his 18 month pajamas so it’s time to go up a size in those.  I remember my mom saying that we used to chunk up for a bit and then shoot up in height and slim back out so I wonder if that’s what he’s about to do.  His feet have also outgrown some of his size 4 and 5 shoes.

I noticed these little blue shorts are getting too tight which is a shame because they are so adorable with some of his Sunday shirts (and that bowtie!).  I bet we’ll be in 24 month clothes by the fall!

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teeth

Hudson got his second canine tooth this month (top left), which brings his teeth to a total of 14!  Wow!  His bottom two canines have not started poking through yet – they look they are going to be difficult though.

This month we started brushing Hudson’s teeth with toothpaste instead of just water.

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communication

Something new that Hudson has started this month is trying to repeat words back to us.  Now if we say “Hudson say _____” he’ll give it a try.  It doesn’t usually sound anything like the word but it’s a good start!

New signs he started using this month are airplane, train, rabbit, and watermelon.  We really haven’t worked on new signs much at all this month so I need to get back to that!

I know he has some new words but the only one I can think of right now is “help”.  He won’t ask for help yet, but if you say “Hudson, do you need help?” then he’ll say “help!”.

Probably my favorite thing that he says right now is “yes”.  He very dramatically and exaggeratedly nods his head and says an emphatic “yes!” (which sounds more like “ice” or “ites”).  It’s adorable!  Also, when you ask him a question you can see him thinking for a second whether he should answer yes or no rather than just automatically answering.

He babbles constantly and many times intently says a whole “sentence” of babbles that I can’t understand.  I know he’s trying to tell me something that’s important to him but as or right now it’s still gibberish to me!  Ha!

He loves to talk about animals – he does a combination of sign language, sounds, and actions depending on what animal we’re talking about.  I think my favorite is when he does a chameleon or lizard and he flicks his tongue in and out.  It’s so cute!

food

Still a pretty great eater.  Communication problems make meal times frustrating – he will tell us that he wants to eat or that he wants more, but he won’t (or can’t) always tell us what exactly he wants.  Sometimes we go through the whole list of food options and he still hasn’t picked one so I’m not sure what goes on in his little brain and what food he *thinks* we have that we aren’t offering him.

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We discovered that he really likes smoothies!  He has hijacked both mine and Michael’s smoothies on multiple occasions!

He was actually waving at me in this picture but it looks like he’s telling me that this is his smoothie now!

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We also discovered that he loves hummus.  The first time I gave it to him he used the bell pepper strips to scoop the hummus out, lick it off, and then get more.  I’m not sure he ever actually ate a bite of pepper.  After that I started giving him just the hummus in a bowl with a spoon – it’s so thick that it was really good practice for him to start learning how to use a spoon to scoop (still messy, but much less messy than if he used the spoon to try to eat soup or something!).

The only problem with the hummus is that it gave him some seriously horrible breath (hence the reason why we started using toothpaste this month!).  I mean, it was awful!  I’ll make it again since he loved it so much but this time I think I’ll leave out the garlic (I think that’s what caused the death breath).

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sleep

Meh.  Naps are pretty good as long as I lay/sit next to him the whole time.  He sleeps pretty well through the night too.  It’s just the getting him to sleep part that can be so frustrating and time consuming some (many) nights.

Also the bigger he gets the more space he takes up in the bed and he is not a very still sleeper so sharing a bed with him isn’t quite as easy breezy as it used to be.  Fun fact: he does not like covers on him at all.  If we pull the covers up over his legs he will kick and kick and kick until he gets them off or we take them off for him.  Since he sleeps in between us that means we can’t really pull the covers up over both of us anymore.  I’ve gotten accustomed to sleeping mostly under just the sheet instead of all the blankets I used to prefer and Michael just uses a separate blanket for his covers.

I tried to get him to attach to a blanket.  He uses me, or whatever shirt I’m wearing, as his “blanket”.  His favorite thing to do when he’s sleepy or upset is to lay his head on my stomach, but it has to be my bare stomach.  He’ll pull my shirt up so that he can get to my tummy and lay on it.  It’s sweet but can get a little annoying sometimes!  I thought that if he got attached to a separate blanket that might make bedtimes and tiredness a little bit easier but alas that didn’t work.  He packed the blanket around for about two days and then ignored it.

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Blankets are better for cleaning than for comfort apparently.2015-07-24_11.50.16 copy

Reading with Daddy and rubbing his sleepy ear.2015-07-24_20.38.10 copy

new skills

Hudson loves these wooden puzzles but up until now he has just played with the pieces on their own and hasn’t ever actually put the puzzle together.  This month he learned how to match the puzzle pieces to the correct spot and put the puzzle together.  That was so exciting to watch him develop that skill!

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He also has learned how to build with his legos.  He’s been playing with the pieces individually for a long time and taking apart the structures we built but he’s never put the legos together on his own (that I can recall).

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He learned how to get off our bed a few months ago but wouldn’t do it voluntarily.  This month he started using that skill more and getting off the bed by himself without being prompted.  He still likes me to get him off most of the time but sometimes he’ll do it himself.

Hudson has started “jumping”.  It’s SO funny!  His feet don’t completely leave the floor but he throws his arms up in the air like he’s jumping high and comes up on his tip toes.  Precious.

He makes all kinds of cute gestures.  It’s obvious (and a bit scary) that he watches up closely and mimics us.  He blows on his food a lot now (even when it’s not hot) and he can identify a lot of body parts that we didn’t specifically teach him.  He has always been a big kisser but this month he started kissing lots of things besides just us and making the kiss noise when he does.  It is so cute – he kisses the pictures in his book, his toys, and most adorably he kisses my tummy when we tell him to give the baby a kiss.  One day he picked up my hairbrush and started using it like a microphone.  I have no idea where he learned that but it was pretty funny!

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other stuff

Hudson is in to everything!  That’s nothing new really, but this month he’s developed a not so lovely habit of licking things – walls, shopping carts, people…not exactly things I’d prefer for him to lick.

He also created his first art masterpiece.

On our walls.

It was totally my fault for not supervising him closer while he was coloring in the living room and he had no idea that it was wrong so I couldn’t really get mad.  I know to watch him much more carefully from now on though!

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Hudson loves to read and to be read to.  It’s probably his favorite activity right now and he wants us to read to him all day long.

2015-08-04_11.05.47 copyRight now the two activities that keep him the quietest and stillest in church are for him to color or to “read” Michael’s Bible.  Michael had a waterproof Bible so the pages are really sturdy and much more suited for a rough toddler to flip through.

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Helping mommy sweep – cleaning with him underfoot and “helping” is certainly an adventure!  For all his mischievousness he really does love to help us do things.  He likes to help me clean, carry bags of groceries and unpack the groceries, load/unload the dishwasher, throw away trash, etc.

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Fixing the table with his drill.

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Happy 19 months my sweet boy!

DIY diffuser necklaces

how to make DIY diffuser necklaces

Diffuser necklaces are such a great way to use your essential oils on the go.  The way most diffuser jewelry works is you put a drop of EO on a little pad (leather, felt, or paper are popular) inside a locket that has holes in it – it acts like a mini diffuser and you can smell and benefit from your oils all day long.  Diffuser necklaces are super popular among the oily crowd and you can buy them lots of places but if you are a little bit crafty you can also make them fairly inexpensively.  They are very easy!

What you need:

I buy “in bulk” because I make a lot of necklaces at once to have on hand to use as gifts, sign up incentives for new members, giveaways, make ‘n take items for my team, etc.  These are the supplies I use.

DIY diffuser necklace supplies

diffuser locket – I buy the 20 pack but they also sell them in packs as small as just 5, I believe

chain – There are lots of different lengths to choose from, I went with 24 inch chains which are a good length for most adults but would probably be too long for a child.

jump rings – This is what connects the pendant to the chain.

disc for inside the pendant – I put one drop of oil on one of these discs and I can usually smell that oil for at least a week.  I also just reuse the disc and put new oils on it when I want to change; I’ve been using it for months and so far it’s held up well.

charms – I purchase my charms at Hobby Lobby or Michael’s in their jewelry section.  There are all kinds of cute charms that slip right on the chain; I usually use flowers, pearls, or gemstones but there are more personalized options too.  The charm is optional of course but I think it adds a nice touch to the necklace.

jewelry bags – Also optional, but trust me that you want these if you are going to be making a lot of necklaces.  This prevents them from becoming a big tangled mess as you try to keep them separate.  I bought my bags from Hobby Lobby but they are also on Amazon.

DIY diffuser necklaces

If you are not interested in making a bunch of these and just want to make one or two for yourself, Hobby Lobby (and probably other craft stores) has most of these items that you can purchase individually.  I’ve seen at least two different types of metal lockets that have the openings and could be used for the diffuser locket, you can purchase small packs of jump rings and individual (or small packs of) chains.  The only thing they don’t have are the discs (that I’ve found), but you could just use a small piece of leather or felt and cut your own, or buy the pack from Amazon and then have extras.

Note: these are not super high quality materials.  My pendant has held up great but you can definitely tell a difference in the weight and quality of it compared to some of the other, more expensive places you can purchase.  But if money is an issue or you’re wanting to make lots of these, I think this is a great alternative and the quality is good for the price (in my opinion).

Speaking of price, I did the math at one point (based on the prices when I purchased – you know how things on Amazon can change from hour-to-hour) and the necklaces came out to $3-$5 each, depending on which charms you choose to use and where you buy them.

What you do:

Step 1: Open each locket and put a disc inside.

DIY diffuser necklace locket

Step 2: Attach a jump ring to the locket.  This is the only part that requires any real “assembling”.  The jump ring has a break in it and the two ends of the metal are slightly bent away from each other so that there is an opening to put in on the locket.  Once you put the jump ring on the locket then you grab each of the openings and pull them in towards each other – that should then even them out so that they meet in the middle.  Some of the things I read online about how to make jewelry mention using pliers to do this but I have been very easily able to do this without needing any tools.

I tried to take a picture of this step but it was impossible for me to get my camera to focus on that tiny jump ring so hopefully my written explanation was clear!

Step 3: Use the jump ring to slide the locket onto the chain.

Step 4: Add any charms that you want as embellishments.

DIY diffuser necklace charms

That’s all!  Easy peasy!

If you aren’t the DIY type and don’t want to make one at all there are tons of places you can purchase them.  There are lots and lots on Etsy as well as various other companies and shops that make them (I really like Sacred Arrow – they also have bracelets, earrings, and jewelry for men).

What oils do you like to use in your necklace?

Some of my favorites for my necklace are Valor, Joy, White Angelica, and Abundance.

(Not an oiler yet?  Want to be?  Check out my page here about how to sign up and get started using these super fabulous essential oils!)

(some links may be affiliates)

pregnancy #2 update – 15 weeks

As predicted I haven’t been nearly as diligent about posting pregnancy updates with Baby #2 as I was with Hudson.  This is only the second one so far and the first one was over a month ago – whoops!

How far along – 15 weeks

We had a check up at 13 weeks and got to hear the heartbeat for the first time.  Nice and strong, heart rate of 165.

Symptoms – Basically nothing.  I do feel some pains/twinges in my belly when I turn over at night or move in certain directions, but other than that I really can’t even tell I’m pregnant.  I feel pretty much just like my non-pregnant self.

Weight/belly – I have not gained any weight yet.  As far as my belly goes…I really can’t tell a difference.  Part of that is because I haven’t been taking pictures to compare but mostly it’s because I never lost the baby weight from Hudson so my stomach is quite a lot larger this time around than it was with Hudson and subtle changes aren’t nearly as noticeable.

I have been trying to be a lot more conscious about my health this time around.  With Hudson I used pregnancy as a ticket to eat as much of whatever I wanted.  Since I’m starting this pregnancy so much heavier than I was with Hudson I want to try to limit the amount of weight gain if at all possible (I know I’ll probably gain some, and I’m not starving myself or anything, just trying to be mindful).  During the few weeks of the first trimester when I felt nauseous I ate whatever sounded good but as soon as that passed (week 11 or 12?) I started making sure I was eating real, whole, healthy foods, very little junk or sugar, eating when hungry but not just eating to eat.  I’m pleased with my food choices and now need to work on exercising.  I’m not going to start anything crazy, but I’d like to do some things that will help strengthen my muscles and support my body as I get ready to deliver a baby (which is pretty much an athletic event in and of itself, and I’m in no way in shape for athletics).

Movement – Around week 11 I was really thinking I felt the baby move.  Like, a lot.  I knew that was wayyyy early and I asked at my doctor’s appointment at week 13 and they said they thought it was too early, too.  The feelings that I was having have since gone away so I’m guessing it was not the baby and was something else instead.  I haven’t felt that, or anything else, recently so I’m guessing I haven’t felt the baby moving yet.

Food cravings – I would drink gallons of Ningxia Red if I could but that stuff’s expensive so I limit myself!  Other than that, no particular cravings.

(Like I said, no belly pictures, and really I have very few pictures of me at all, but I feel like I must have a picture with each blog post so here’s one I had of me downing the last bit of Ningxia from a bottle – I usually pour it into a small glass each day but when it gets low I unleash my inner rebel and chug it straight from the bottle.  Ningxia Red is a high antioxidant nutrient juice from Young Living that I drink every day, for those who are unfamiliar with it.)

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Food aversions – Nothing.  I’m not adverse to fruit right now but I haven’t wanted it nearly as much as I usually do so that has been a bit strange.

Sleep – Great

Thoughts – This pregnancy is so different!  With Hudson that was all I thought about – I was so attuned to every change and symptom.  Now I have a toddler who demands lots of attention and I feel very un-pregnant so it’s easy to forget that I actually am pregnant at the moment.  It’s so strange!  Of course I’m excited, I just don’t think about it as much as I did with Hudson.

We’ve started tossing around baby names.  We’ve had our girl name picked out for years so that’s ready to go but we’re having trouble deciding on a boy name.  So far nothing has just jumped out and grabbed us so we’re still thinking.  We should find out sometime next month if this baby will be a boy or a girl.

We sat down a few weeks ago and made a list of things we need for baby #2 so we can make sure and be saving in our budget – thankfully there isn’t much!  A double stroller, bigger diaper bag, newborn cloth diapers, maybe a new carrier.  Our biggest purchase that’s not technically a baby thing but will probably be used more than most baby things will be a king sized bed.  And of course if this baby is a girl then we’ll get some girly clothes.  It’s nice to not have a crazy, huge, overwhelming list like we did for Hudson!

This time around instead of worrying about a nursery and having all this “stuff”, I’m going to work more on practical things like having freezer meals cooked and getting the house cleaned and such.

Hudson’s 18 month pictures

I am in love with Hudson’s 18 month pictures!  They are adorable and capture his personality perfectly!

I was particularly excited about his 18 month pictures because I wanted to recreate a picture of me when I was 18 months old.  This bathtub picture is one of my favorite pictures!

(Can we just take a second to marvel at how UNLIKE me Hudson looks?  I mean seriously, he is his daddy made over!)IMG_9386Anyway, so I sent this picture to our photographer, we gathered up a bucket and chair and all that good stuff.  What we failed to gather up was a cooperative toddler.  Hudson was not a fan of the bucket.  He did NOT want to sit down in it.  Really, he didn’t want to cooperate for pictures at all.

Thankfully our photographer is wonderful and patient and after quite a bit of work we were able to not only get him to start smiling but to also sit in the tub and take some good pictures.   We only had to do some minor bribery with car keys ;).

I think we got some great ones!

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It started to rain on us just a bit which actually was pretty cool because it gave Hudson that wet-ish hair look, perfect for bathtub pictures!  And then when his hair dried it was more on the curly side and less on the Albert Einstein frizzy side (which is how it usually tends to look).141517192122Lots of smooches23There was a group of people touring the area where we were doing pictures and they all fawned over Hudson…and of course he ate up the attention and waved and waved!
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123810121328303234363840414243464748Isn’t he just the cutest??

As always, major props to our photographer Shelley at Sweet Dreams Photography!  She is super-de-duper awesome!

Hudson’s 18 month update

A year and a half…where has time gone?!  The older Hudson gets and the more active he is the less (good/clear/still) pictures I seem to get of him.  But here are a few (ok, still a lot) of pictures from this month and a bit about what he’s been up to.

growth

At this 18 month check up earlier this week he was 26.2 pounds (89th percentile) and 32 inches tall (35th percentile).

Hudson HATED the doctor’s visit.  He never seemed to care up up to his 12 month appointment, but his 15 month and 18 month appointments were horrendous.  He screamed through us sitting him on the table to weigh him, trying to stand him up and measure his height, putting that measuring tape thing around his head, looking in his ears, his mouth, etc.  A blood curdling, freaking out scream.  He even cried about the stickers he got at the end.  The only thing he didn’t get upset about during this visit was his eye exam, oddly enough.

We don’t have another well visit until he’s 2 years old so hopefully our next visit will be better.  It’s so embarrassing, plus I can hardly focus or hear the doctor when he’s screeching like that.  Sigh.

Check out these red shoes.  They were my very first baby purchase from a friend at her yard sale after we found out we were pregnant with Hudson.  We used them in our gender and name announcement pictures – it’s so neat to see him wearing them!

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teeth

Molar #4 has come through and canine #1 (top right) has poked through.  I can see the other three canine beneath the surface so I’d say they’ll be along pretty soon.

I just realized the other day that all he has left are these canines and his 2/3 year molars, then we should get a break for a while until his next molars come through (Around 6 years old?  Is that right?).  It seems crazy that we’re so close to the end of teething…and that he has almost a full mouth of teeth!  It feels like yesterday when he got his first two little teeth!

communication

The new signs he started using this month are strawberry, rock, orange, bird, yes, bear, church, and turtle.  His new words/sounds include baa (like a sheep), car, whoooo (like an owl), roar (lion), God, and church.  He also learned to pinch his nose when we say P.U.  So cute!

food

Hudson actually got a bit picky this month.  Up until now he has been such a good eater but this month several times he refused to eat some of the foods that typically he would gobble up!  I hope it’s just a short phase and he’ll continue to eat a wide variety of foods.

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Some of his favorite foods right now are cheese, crackers, apple sauce, any fruit, yogurt, and peanut butter sandwiches.

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sleep

According to what I read on The Interwebz apparently a lot of kids go through a big sleep regression around 18 months.  I’m pretty sure Hudson happens to be one of those kids.  About halfway through the month he started bucking bed time pretty hard and it would take upwards of 2-3 hours from the time we started bedtime to when he’d actually go to sleep.  Fortunately once he was asleep he stayed that way through the night, but it has been very stressful dealing with this multi-hour bedtime junk.

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Naps have still been pretty good.  Most days he takes a 2-3 hour nap, although there have been a few days that he has slept for less than an hour and a half, or fallen asleep in the car for 15 minutes on the way home, and then that’s been it for the rest of the day.

One day though he woke up from a nap (I was laying the bed next to him) and leaned on me.  I figured he would get up in a minute but then I realized he had fallen asleep!  I eased him back down and he slept for a bit longer.
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new skills

We found out this month that Hudson is really good (in my opinion) at throwing and catching a ball.  Honestly I don’t worry about or even keep up with which milestones Hudson is supposed to reach at certain ages.  I figure every child develops at their own pace and I’ll be able to tell if he’s significantly “behind”.  But because of that I don’t really know when kids are supposed to be able to catch a ball, but I have certainly been impressed with his coordination and ability!

adventures

We celebrated 4th of July this year by grilling out with friends and then going to watch the fireworks at a local church who has an amazing fireworks show.  Hudson reacted about the same to these fireworks as he did the ones at church camp – he held on to me pretty tightly and did not want to watch the fireworks, but he didn’t cry or get super upset either.

We brought his little camping chair out there but he didn’t like it (hence the very concerned face in the picture below).  Maybe when he gets a bit bigger!

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Hudson and I went with my mom to my grandparents’ to visit for a few days.  Hudson had fun playing with all the toys there and getting into all kinds of cabinets and other non-baby proofed things.  He loved carrying my Granddaddy’s cane around too!2015-07-08_21.34.28 copy2015-07-09_10.04.10 copy

We had our church’s Vacation Bible School this month.  There was a kick off event on Saturday where we released balloons with invitations on them out into the community.  Hudson actually really liked the balloons (up until now he’s been afraid of helium balloons) so we found two that were starting to lose their helium and he carried them around for a long time.

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A friend snapped these pictures of Hudson at VBS and I just love them!  Look at those curls and those pretty blue eyes!

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Cool dude with his Mission: Possible sunglasses
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Tiffany and kids came to visit for a day.  It’s so fun to have all my babies together!

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We went down to our other church camp (with the church I went to when I still lived at home) to visit mom and Riley for the day.  Hudson had so much fun running around and playing outside.  They also had a guest speaker that day who brought a bunch of reptiles and creatures (boa constrictors, strange lizards, cockroaches, etc.).  Hudson didn’t want to touch or hold them but he did sit and watch the whole program and didn’t cry when he saw the animals, so that’s progress!

2015-07-16_12.57.09 copyThey have a creek that the kids love to play in.  It’s probably most people’s favorite spot at camp and Hudson loved it too.  I was really surprised!  I thought he’d be scared of the water or not like how cold it was, but he did really well.  He didn’t like it when he fell/sat down in the water and got wet, but otherwise he had a good time walking around and pretending to pick up things with his net.

2015-07-16_14.19.24 copy2015-07-16_14.06.39 copyMy brother Riley was in The Fiddler on The Roof.  That’s one of my favorite plays and I really wanted to go see him.  Hudson had never been to a play of any kind and I was unsure how he’d do (I figured one of us adults would end up outside in the hallway entertaining him for the majority of the time) but he did great!  He sat (or stood – don’t worry, we were in the last row) in my lap for the whole first act (which was at least an hour and a half long) and watched intently.  The second act did not go as well – he had gotten to run around during intermission and then didn’t want to have to sit still again when it was time.  But fortunately the second part was much shorter.2015-07-18_20.26.38 copy

I found this little (well, pretty big actually) blow up kiddie pool for less than $20 at Walmart and it has been a wonderful hang out spot this summer.  Hudson has so much fun playing in the water and I like that it’s big enough for me to sit in and cool off too (and sometimes Michael gets in with us when he gets home from work too – plenty of room in there!).  2015-07-13_15.55.07 copy

other stuff

This month really has just been a reversal in a lot of ways – not eating as good, sleep issues, and also the carseat!  Ever since we discovered (after 11 loooooong months) that watching a tv show in the car kept Hudson from screaming we’ve been doing that and he’s been great in the car.  Until this month.  He’s started to go back to hating the car again and he’ll cry quite a bit, even with a tv show on for him to watch.  That has been realllly stressful and so disappointing since we thought we had a great solution.  I’m hoping this won’t last long!

And now just a few random pictures:

Crazy bathtub hair styling.  I wish I had a picture of it when we rinse it and it hangs down his back – it’s SO long!

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This child gets in to everything!  Nothing is safe.  He found Michael’s sunglasses one morning while I was getting ready and next thing I know he’s got them on his head…just like daddy!  So cute!

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Sitting up there on the couch like such a big boy!2015-06-29_15.17.19 copy

We start yard work early in this family ;).2015-07-02_17.18.01 copy2015-07-04_08.10.45 copy2015-07-04_08.10.53 copy2015-07-22_09.18.31 copy

Happy half birthday, my precious boy!

Signing Time

Before I ever had kids I knew I wanted to use sign language with my babies.  I’d heard so many great things about babies who couldn’t talk yet but who could communicate with others via signing.  Plus I figured learning signs as well as learning to speak had to be good for cognitive development.

I have a little bit of a background in sign language.  We had a deaf interpreter at our church growing up, I had attended a few sign language classes, and we also learned several sign language songs at church camp when I was younger.  So I knew the alphabet, numbers, some basic words, and some songs.

We started using signs with Hudson before he turned one (I really don’t remember when exactly we started) and right around 12 months he started signing back.  Until he was 16 months though we only did milk, more, eat, all done, drink, diaper, and bath.  Those were all very useful but as he got older I wanted to start using more.  The problem was, *I* didn’t really know lots more (or at least, not the types of words that would be helpful to teach him).

I figured surely YouTube would have some videos for kids that we could watch.  The only thing we had ever tried before was the Baby Einstein signing video and to be totally honest it was super boring.  Neither Hudson or I cared a bit about it.  But after a little searching I hit pay dirt with this video.

It’s about an hour long and has signing instruction as well as songs.  We watched it a few times times – I learned several new signs, immediately started using them with Hudson, and within a few days he was signing them as well.

I did some investigating and found out that this video was actually a compilation of songs and clips from several different sign language videos in the Signing Time series.  Signing Time is a company that makes sign language videos for babies up through preschoolers.  Usually the dvds have a theme like “farm animals” or “colors” or “our day”.  I checked at our local library and they had quite a few of the dvds so we went one day and I picked several for us to try.

signing time[source]

(You can also check out their other free videos on YouTube here)

Every time we watched a new dvd I would watch it through with Hudson.  Thanks to the repetition and catchy songs usually by the time we finished watching it I had picked up most of the signs.  Then I’d start using them with him in our day to day life or while we read a book about animals or however it seemed appropriate.  Usually within a couple of days he had picked up on the ones that we used frequently.

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I get comments all the time from people who are interested in Hudson’s sign language and want to know how we taught him.  Honestly it’s just like “teaching” him how to talk – we talk to him, use descriptive words, etc. and eventually he has picked up on words.  With signing we both say and sign the words and again, he just picks up on the signs in his own time.  The catch that is most of us already know how to talk, but we don’t know signs.  That’s where having dvds like this comes in handy!

This was a perfect way for me to learn the signs so that I could start using them with Hudson!  I do not think that he would have picked up on the signs if I’d just plopped him down in front of the dvd (an older child might but I don’t think he would have) but us watching together, me learning the signs, and then implementing them in our lives really helped him pick them up quickly.  In about two weeks he had gone from 5 or so signs to 30 or so.  Michael also quickly picked up the signs, either from watching the dvds with us or just seeing me use them with Hudson.

The most useful ones right now have been food signs.  For a long time he could tell us he wanted to eat or that he wanted more, but now that he can tell us what he wants to eat it eliminates a lot of frustration.

It has been truly remarkable how much better Hudson can communicate with us now.  He is talking more as well as signing but the majority of his communication is via sign language.

If you have been thinking about using sign language with your baby or even your older kids, I recommend watching that YouTube video I linked and checking to see if your library has any of the signing time dvds.  You can also purchase the dvds individually or as sets from their website, but I haven’t done that yet.  So far we’ve just been checking them out from the library but I would love to own them all someday!

Hudson’s 17 month update

We’re already halfway to 18 months now so I’m a bit behind, but here’s what Hudson was up to last month (and a very eventful month it was!).

growth

I totally forgot to weigh/measure so we’ll just wait and see next month, but I’d assume he’s about the same weight and maybe a bit taller.  Still in 18 month clothes, although a few of his outfits have gotten too small.  We also had to loosen up his cloth diapers one snap.

I know everyone said he looked *just* like Michael from the time he was born, but I think he looks more and more like him as he gets older.  In fact, when I look back at his pictures from several months ago I actually see quite a bit of myself in him.  When I look at pictures now though it’s alllllll Michael.

I found this old picture of Michael flipping through a scrapbook one day and was blown away by how similar they look – I had to make a side-by-side comparison to show it off.  Twinsies for sure.

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At the end of last month he had one molar and part of a second.  Now that second one has popped all the way through and a third one followed right behind it.  The last molar from this “set” hasn’t come through yet but I think it’s on it’s way soon based on how he’s been acting.

communication

Hudson’s communication has absolutely skyrocketed this month!  He has added a ton of words both to his speech and his signing.

In addition to the words he could already say, he now says “go go!”, bubbles, ball, car, mama, dada, arf arf (when asked what a dog says), quack, duck, egg, cat, meow, shoes, cracker, moo, eyes.  That brings him up to 21 words.

And in addition to the signs he already knew, this month he learned: banana, apple, please, no, cracker, water, pear, shoes, grapes, hat, cheese, paci, wash hands, pajamas, book/read, amen, horse, sleep, eggs, clean up, down, ball, pray, peach, car.  That brings him up to a total of 32 signs, I think.

A lot of the time when we tell him “no no” we say it and sign it and then he will yell “nononono” back at us while signing it because he’s mad that we told him no.  It’s so funny to see but of course isn’t good at all that he’s doing that so I laugh inside but don’t let him know that I think it’s funny (that happens a lot – it is so hard to keep a straight face sometimes when he’s doing something that he shouldn’t be doing)

I’m going to do a whole separate post later talking about the tools that we used to help him (and us) learn so much sign language so quickly so be watching for that, but I just have to say that is has helped SO much for him to be able to communicate with us!  I feel like a lot of his frustrations we dealt with in the past have gone away since he can more easily tell us what he wants.  It is amazing how quickly he picked up the signs and started using them correctly.  And I’m thrilled that he’s started talking more too!

food

He still loves a variety of food.  We were at church camp for a week this month and that exposed him to a bunch of different foods that he’s never tried.  The aforementioned sign language skills have helped out a ton in him being able to tell us not only that he wanted to eat but also *what* he wanted to eat.

He is really good at using a fork but we haven’t practiced using a spoon very much yet.  Spoon-worthy food are of course much more messy and I just don’t want to deal with the clean up so most of the time if it requires a spoon (soup, yogurt, etc.) then I feed it to him.  We’ll start working on that…eventually ;).  I did let him try out a spoon with some yogurt one day but he mostly just dipped the tip in the yogurt, he doesn’t understand how to scoop yet.
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Our super big news this month is that Hudson is completely weaned now!  I wrote a whole post talking about that and how we weaned if you want to read the details.

Sleep

A nice change from so many of the previous month is that sleep is really pretty good now.  He sleeps 10-11 hours at night and unless his teeth are bothering him he sleeps soundly.  He’s still in our bed and he’s a total bed hog.

He takes one nap a day, usually after lunch.  Typically he sleeps about 2 hours, sometimes longer if he’s really tired.  I can lay him down for a nap and leave the room to do things but he does usually wake up several times so I have to run back in there and settle him back down.  Since I’ve been pregnant I’ve started using his nap time to either lay down with him and take a nap myself or just lay there and rest or read a book.

Several time recently he hasn’t even needed me to rock him to get him to sleep for his nap.  I’ll just be holding him in my lap and look down and he’s fallen asleep.  That is very out of character for him!

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Just to be clear he did NOT climb up here and fall asleep on his own (I may faint if that ever happens) – he fell asleep in my lap and I laid him down on the couch and he stayed asleep for a bit.
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new skills

While we were at church camp Hudson learned all kinds of new things.  He had climbed on a few things before but now can climb up in the recliner, on the couch, on the church pew, on boxes…he climbs on all kinds of things!

He climbed all over our suitcases and bins while we were trying to unpack from camp!

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One afternoon I found him up on the pew just hanging out eating a cracker (he looooooves crackers – he calls everything a cracker: chips, cookies, french fries, actual crackers and he’ll shout “cacka cacka” while signing it at the same time.  It’s adorable)
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He also has learned how to turn lights on and off so he’ll climb up on our pew and flip the light switch over and over.

2015-06-23_18.27.45 copyHe can get down off the bed with assistance.  If I turn him around and help him get his legs dangling off the bed he can slide down (he doesn’t like it…I think the big drop scares him) but he doesn’t seem to remember how to do it on his own without my help.

One of his favorite songs is “This Little Christian Light of Mine” and he knows to blow on his finger or my finger when we get to that part of the song.

adventures

Like I’ve mentioned before we went to church camp this month and Hudson had an absolute blast.  I thought it was going to be hard but honestly church camp was easier this time with a toddler than it was last time (when he was 8 months, I believe).  I think the fact that he was able to run and play made him much happier, plus I didn’t have to hold him all that time.

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He looked so big sitting here beside us at chapel!  That didn’t last long – he’d much rather play in the mulch during chapel ;).
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Mmmm Ningxia Red.

2015-06-17_07.51.47 copyI thought this Kiddie Car Wash was the coolest thing ever!  One of the men at church built it for the kids to use at camp.  Hudson was not a fan (duh, water) but the other kids loved it.  How fun would this be for a summer birthday party?2015-06-17_11.45.24 copyI tried to be very diligent about keeping a hat on Hudson, especially since he is so fair and his hair is so sparse so lots of scalp shows through.  We went outside one day and I forgot to grab his hat; I didn’t have to time run in and get it before my class started so I just used a bandana.  He’s cracking me up looking like a little biker dude.

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Speaking of fair skin, my poor little guy got pretty burnt at camp.  I tried to be so careful about putting lots of sunscreen on but it must not have worked (or I didn’t apply enough).  His face didn’t get burnt thanks to the hats (I know it looks super red here but that’s what he looks like anytime he goes outside and gets hot – it goes away once he cools down) and his legs were fine but his arms got toasty.  He had a nice little farmer’s tan and then the day that he wore this sleeveless outfit his poor shoulders got burnt too.2015-06-18_13.46.41 copy2015-06-18_13.46.48 copyBeautiful rainbow
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We had fireworks at camp one night and Hudson did not like them but he didn’t freak out like I thought he might.  He clung to me pretty hard and whimpered some but was much calmer than when he sees, say, a cat.  In fact, after he got over the initial fear then he just fell asleep while we watched them.

And of course our other big news from this month, and the next big adventure for our family, is that Hudson is going to be a big brother!

big brother baby announcementI love these pictures because they look so ironic – announcing that he’s going to be a big brother and looking not a bit happy.  But in reality obviously he has no idea what that even means and he was just crying because he wanted to go outside and I was trying to get a picture of him.  Ha! 2015-06-05_16.40.18 copy2015-06-05_16.40.07 copy

other firsts

Nearly all of Hudson’s “firsts” this month were injury-related.  He is definitely becoming an active little boy and with that come lots of bumps and scrapes.

He got his first blister and as a result his first bandaid for a boo boo (he’s had bandaids at the doctor’s office but never at home for an injury).  He was fascinated by his blister and kept pointing at it and poking it.  He was not a fan of the bandaid and cried when I put it on.

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He had his first scraped knees when he fell on the concrete at church camp and his first splinters when I let him walk on our deck without shoes (I won’t do that again!  I bet he got 20 splinters in 5 minutes and it took Michael forever to get them all out).  He also had his first bloody nose although I have no idea what caused it.  He woke up one morning at church camp with it bleeding (a small amount, not anything crazy) and the only thing that I can figure is the fact that it was absolutely freezing in our room in the lodge at camp so maybe that or dry air or something made it bleed.

other stuff

He’s completely over the shoe issue.  We don’t wear the Robeez at all anymore and he’s fine in tennis shoes, sandals, crocs, whatever.

He went through a thing early in the month where he was chewing on/eating everything.  I caught him taking bites out of magazines and receipts and multiple times putting money in his mouth.  He seems to be over that now (or maybe we’ve just moved everything out of his reach).

He also went through a phase for a few weeks where he wouldn’t give very many if any kisses.  He’s always been pretty affectionate so that was odd but now he’s back to giving all kinds of big smoochy kisses.

I know this one is blurry but it’s such a cute poochy lip kiss picture.

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I’m not sure how much of this is toddlerhood in general and how much is just Hudson’s personality but he seems to have a bit of a temper sometimes.  Thankfully he doesn’t hit or bite often (he does it some but not much) but if you tell him no or take something away or anything else that he doesn’t want to do he will pitch a fit (shout at you, drop dramatically to the ground) and occasionally will even bite the couch or table – you can see his mind working like “I want to bite something but I know I can’t bite Mommy so I’ll bite the closest piece of furniture”.  Thankfully this is not a frequent occurrence and hopefully just a phase!

He is in to everything that isn’t locked – cabinets, drawers, you name it.  I have to watch him like a hawk.

2015-05-29_07.53.23 copyHe loves to pretend to drink out of a cup.  These are actually the “feet” for a rooster from an animal nesting toy but he uses it like a cup (and I think it looks like those little cups of tea you get at Japanese restaurants).2015-05-30_15.02.24 copyHudson loves to be outside.  He’d play outside all day if I’d let him!
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He also loves to read or be read to.  It melts my heart to see him looking at a book.2015-05-31_07.24.13 copy

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He fell asleep on a bike ride with daddy and woke up with some pretty amazing helmet hair!
2015-06-02_18.41.57 copyFuture jouster, perhaps?
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It is so cute (and also amazing and scary) at how much kids pick up.  As soon as he gets down from a meal if he’s made a mess we grab a broom to sweep it up.  He runs and gets his broom too to come help.  We usually set him down and brush crumbs off him onto the floor before we sweep so now when we set him down he automatically brushes himself off, even if he doesn’t have any crumbs.  He certainly knows our routine.
2015-06-04_19.29.41 copyYou might not have noticed but we aren’t too big on clothes around here ;).  2015-06-05_15.25.57 copy

Hudson loves bubbles.  It’s one of his favorite words to say and he has so much fun chasing them.  The bubbles in the long skinny tube with the elongated wand are by far the best, in case you wondered (I buy ours at Kroger).2015-06-06_19.17.53 copy2015-06-06_19.29.58 copy

Selfies with mommy.2015-06-07_16.04.36 copyTrying on bathing suits before camp.2015-06-09_10.13.52 copyHis amber teething necklace completes the surfer boy look for sure!2015-06-09_10.18.00 copyLooking so big in his ball cap.
2015-06-11_09.11.56 copyCrazy morning hair.2015-06-13_07.45.29 copyPlaying in the toy room at my chiropractor’s office.
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My sweet, sweet boy.  I just love him to pieces and it’s so fun watching him grow and change!

the ending of our breastfeeding journey

It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around this completely, but our breastfeeding journey has come to an end.  Yep, Hudson is now fully weaned!

When Hudson turned 16 months he was still nursing twice a day – when we first woke up and then before bed at night.  Up until now we’d been dropping one feeding session every month or more so I was very surprised that we dropped those last two within one month (by the time he was 17 months he was weaned).  I didn’t really do anything special to wean him but since I’ve had people asking “how” I did it, here’s kind of what happened:

I was not sure how to go about dropping these last two feedings.  I figured that the night time feeding would be last to go but I didn’t know how to go about dropping the morning one.  Typically we woke up and before we even got out of bed he was signing for milk so we’d breastfeed first and then do breakfast.

But it so happened that for several days in a row Hudson decided to wake up much earlier than normal – before Michael had left for work.  After a day or two of him doing that I realized this might be a great opportunity to see how he’d do dropping a feeding.  So Michael would get him out of bed when he (Hudson) woke up and I would continue to sleep (that was a nice bonus).   Michael would feed him breakfast and then bring him back to me before he left for work.

That worked really well!  There was a day or maybe two that later in the day (midmorning/lunchtime) Hudson would kind of remember that he hadn’t had his milk and ask for it so we’d nurse when he asked, but then after that he totally quit asking all together.

I figured it would take a month or two before he’d be ready to drop that last feeding but a few weeks later we went to church camp and he completely weaned himself!  Sunday night (our first night there) I got him all ready for bed – bath, pjs on, etc.  We have very little cell service in general at our camp and none at all in the lodge where I was staying, so I took Hudson up to the porch so I could check my phone before we went to bed.  I sat down in a rocking chair and started rocking while I checked my phone and within five minutes he was passed out.  No nursing at all!

I took him to our bed and laid him down, expecting that he would wake up at some point during the night and want to breastfeed, but he never did.  He slept all night long!  And you know what, he never once asked for milk again.  I wasn’t sure if it was a fluke or not, but the next night I got him ready for bed and took him up to the porch to try rocking again.  That wasn’t working so I passed him off to Michael so I could go shower and when I got back up there after my shower, Hudson was fast asleep.  Again, I put him to bed and that was that.  The rest of the week was similar – he went to bed easily every night without needing milk.

When we got home from camp I thought he might get back into a routine and want milk again but he didn’t seem to notice.  He still uses his sign for milk occasionally but when he does that he just wants me to hold him and he doesn’t actually want to nurse.

The thought had crossed my mind that I wondered if camp might help him to finally wean, but I was still surprised that he did it so easily and quickly and on his own.  It was obvious that he was ready.  I think that my milk had dropped, if not disappeared completely, when I got pregnant (I had noticed he was not really drinking anything when he nursed, just using me more like a pacifier) so I think that helped him to wean more easily.

I’m not sure what my “approach” to weaning would be considered – I didn’t cut him off completely at a certain set time but I also didn’t just go until he did it himself.  I guess I gently guided him along the weaning process.  Part of that was because he wasn’t one that asked to have milk outside of his “normal” set times and so I thought that he was doing it more from routine than necessarily from a want or need for it.  And part was because even though I totally support extended breastfeeding, I didn’t want to keep going indefinitely.

Through the whole weaning process I used distractions and change in our day to day routine to help drop each feedings.  Things like traveling worked especially well since I knew he’d be busy with other things.  That worked great for us and each time we dropped a feeding it was no big deal because he was occupied with stuff.  And of course, if he asked for milk we’d still nurse, but really he didn’t ask much and it would only take a few days before we’d have our new routine with one less feeding.  It was a very slow process – dropping one feeding every month or two (up until these last two all in one month) and I think that kept it from being too traumatic for either of us.

breastfeeding

Emotionally, it wasn’t as hard as I expected.  Part of me was very ready to be done – being pregnant again I know that the whole breastfeeding experience will start over again in a few months and it will be nice to have a little bit of time without breastfeeding.  But at the same time, we worked HARD to breastfeed.  It was a huge battle that I am so proud to have overcome, and seeing the end of it is bittersweet in many ways.  I miss that connection and bond.  But, I think the fact that he weaned during church camp was a blessing to both of us because I was busy and distracted as well so I didn’t dwell on it.  Part of me wishes I had known that Saturday, June 13 would be our very last nursing session so I could have savored it, but then part of me is glad I didn’t know so that I didn’t get all sad about it.

So here’s to almost 17 months of breastfeeding my sweet boy.  I am so glad that we made it this far!

Hudson has an announcement…

big brother baby announcement(thanks Cassie at Ginger Snap Photography for the picture!)

Baby #2 coming January/February of 2016!!

I’ve been extra silent here on the blog (sadly not that unusual ever since Hudson was born) and on my blog’s Facebook page for the past month – it’s hard to have a secret and not tell so I just haven’t posted much in general!  We found out our exciting news on June 1 so I’ve been keeping it in since then.  I’m 9 weeks along now and we had our first doctor’s appointment today.  Everything looks great!  Heart rate of 172, developing as he/she should.

My estimated due day is February 1.  Hudson’s birthday is January 23 so they’ll be right at 2 years apart, give or take a few days.  We are of course so thrilled about this baby but I’m also a bit nervous too.  In a strange way I’m more nervous than I was with Hudson.  With him I had very few expectations…now that I’ve had one baby I know what it’s like and how hard it is at the beginning plus I’ll have a two year old on top of a newborn.  But millions have done this before me and survived so I’m sure I’ll be just fine :).

big brother t shirt

So far this pregnancy has been very similar to when I was pregnant with Hudson: mild nausea off and on all day long, same cravings (sour and salty), little desire for sweets, and same aversions (basically the smell of anything in the whole wide world but).  I feel like I’ve had more energy this time around which is good since I have a toddler to care for and can’t lay on the couch all day (although we’ve done our fair share of laying on the couch watching Daniel Tiger).  With Hudson I think my nausea was gone by week 11 or 12, so hopefully I’ll just have another two or three weeks of that part.

Here we go on our next adventure!

Money Mondays – is a MLM right for you?

week 6 tips on joining an MLM

Welcome back to the next installment in our Money Mondays series!  Today we’re going to be talking all about multi-level marketing, or MLMs (or direct sales, or network marketing… I hear the terms used interchangeably).  I mentioned a few weeks ago when we talked about how to increase your income if you find yourself having more budget expenses than you have money that I would do a separate post all about MLMs/direct sales/network marketing.

(fyi the answer to my graphic above is no…pyramid schemes are illegal anyway…)

If you’ve been reading along with the series you know that when Hudson was born last year I quit my job to stay home with him and so that took us from two incomes to one.  Right about that same time I also joined Young Living essential oils as a wholesale customer (a distributor) strictly so that I could get oils at the discount.  However I kept telling all my friends about how much I loved the oils and *they* were getting interested and wanted to try them for themselves and their families.  I started to see the potential for this as a business – I could share my love of oils with people and then also make some money.  I thought even if I only made enough to cover our own oils and Young Living product costs each month that would be have been super helpful for our budget and if I made more that would be amazing!  After being involved with Young Living as a business for the last year and a half I really think MLMs can be a fantastic way for people to earn some extra money.

Prior to this I had no experience with multi-level marketing.  I have lots of friends who are involved in various companies and I’ve purchased products from them but I had never been in one or really knew how they worked.  I wasn’t anti-MLM or anything – I thought it was fine for others but didn’t think it was something that I would want to do.

This post is NOT to convince you that MLMs are awesome.  I’m not trying to change your mind or persuade you if you already hate network marketing.  Instead I’m going to give you some of my tips, or things to ask yourself, if you are thinking about joining one of these companies, as well as try to give you a general overview from several popular companies.

First up, lets answer the questions: Is a MLM right for me and if so, which one?

5 questions to help you decide if a mlm is for you

Some questions to ask yourself:

1.  Do I want to do this as a hobby (i.e. just for a little bit of extra money and/or on a short-term basis) or as a business (i.e. I want to earn enough to quit a job or make as much as I was making in my other job or something along those lines, basically a serious paycheck)?

Deciding what your goals are (or what you think your goals are, because of course they can always change) will help you determine which company you want to join.  If you want to do this casually for a little extra money then you can go with most any company that floats your boat.  If you’re one of the ones who wants to really pursue this as a second income, a replacement income, make big bucks, etc. then you need to think more critically about which company you join.

My first goal with my Young Living business was to make enough each month to cover our monthly oil and Young Living purchases.  I make more than enough for that now and my next goal is to earn as much with my Young Living business as I did in my previous job (as a teacher and librarian).  I am not there yet but can see the potential and think I will eventually get there.

2.  Do I love the product?  

Listen, if you don’t love a product you don’t need to try to sell it.  I always said I could never “sell” anything but once I saw the difference essential oils were making for myself, my family, and others I couldn’t not tell others and encourage them to try for themselves.  It took me finding a product that I really loved and believed in to make it where I could actually feel comfortable “selling”.

Sure, you can sell something that you don’t love or believe in, and some people could sell anything in the world and make you want to buy it, but for most of us it is going to show through to the people around us whether we really are passionate about a product or if we’re just trying to make a buck.

Another question to ask to go along with this is “Would I recommend this product or talk about this product even if I didn’t get any money in return?”.  Would you be recommending your bags or makeup or oils or exercise routine or whatever just like you would tell someone your favorite restaurant or brand of clothes or brand of cereal or medicine?  If the answer is yes then that’s a plus for the company.  If it’s a no then maybe you should look for something else that you actually recommend.

I would tell people about Young Living essential oils and strongly encourage them to try them even if I did not make a penny off that.  That’s how much I love them and believe in them.

3.  Who is my target audience?

If you are wanting to do this as a hobby or for just a short amount of time, this question is not that important to you.  But if you are wanting to do this long term, you need to think about how sustainable that is.  Is the company or product you are thinking about selling something that will only appeal to a small percentage of people?  Is it something that you yourself will outgrow (say 5-10 years from now would you still need or use this product or is it for a certain age range only)?  Is this a product that lots of people want or need and I can see myself using this for the rest of my life, sharing it with people of all ages and situations?

4. Do I like people?

I’m being a bit facetious here but seriously, being part of an MLM requires you to get out and talk to people – doing parties, teaching classes, vendor events, sharing about your product.  People do this at different degrees and levels as far as what works with their lifestyle and personality (and that’s the beauty of this business!) but if in general you do not like to be around people or talk to people then succeeding in this business will be difficult for you.

5. Am I self motivated?

MLMs have a lot of autonomy.  One reason why I love my Young Living business is because I set my hours, I decide how much or how little I work, I work around family and Hudson and church and all kinds of things.  However, you do have to be organized and motivated.  If you say “Oh I’d love to be one of those who makes $1,000 a month, or $5,000 a month, or $15,000 a month” (yep, I know people personally who makes these figures!) then you actually have to do something.  You can’t just sit around and wait for the money to roll in because despite what some people tell you, it doesn’t work that way.

Owning your own business also comes with having to keep up with paper work, making sure you properly report and file your taxes, keeping good documentation, etc.  If you are not naturally organized (or are not self-motivated enough to get organized) then that will be a struggle for you.

So there are five big questions to get you started.  Of course there are some other things that you might want to think about but those are the main five, in my opinion, to help you decide if you should even be in an MLM to begin with and then if so, which one.

Some other things you might want to consider if they are important to you:
– Is my area/church/school/friend group already overrun with consultants/distributors of a certain company?
– What are the ethics of the company?
– Does the company focus more on their actual product and how great it is or are they all about the money side of things and how much you can make?
– Do I have to keep stock at my home or are things done online?
– How much does it cost to join?
– How much to do I have to sell or spend a month?
– Realistically, what should I expect to earn?

Also, if you are considering an MLM I recommend the book The Four Year Career – it’s a super short read but really helps you to understand what network marketing is, how it works, and why it’s a good source of income.  And it’s cheap.

In preparation for this post I created a survey and asked my Facebook friends who were involved in various MLMs to fill it out.  I wanted to get an overview of some of the popular companies.  I got responses from Young Living (essential oils), Mary Kay (makeup), Jamberry (nail wraps), Pampered Chef (kitchen gadgets), Norwex (cleaning supplies), Arbonne (makeup), Younique (make up), Origami Owl (necklaces), Pure Romance (“relationship enhancing” items), Rodan and Fields (skin care), Paparazzi Jewelry (jewelry), and Thirty One Gifts (bags and purses).

Once I started wading through the responses I realized that the companies are all so different and it was hard to figure out how I was going to condense that information and share it with you!  But here’s a generalization (if you want more information about a specific company let me know and I can share what info I was given and I can hook you up with a rep as well if you need one).

What do you have to do to be a distributor/representative/consultant and how much does it cost to get started?

Most everyone said to be a distributor they either had to purchase a starter kit of some sort and/or have a wholesale membership.

The starter kits ranged from $45 to $995 (and funnily enough…that was the same company that had both the lowest and highest kits – Rodan and Fields apparently has a lot of sign up options in a wide variety of price ranges).

There were also a few where if you were already a customer of the company then it was only $20 or so to become a distributor (Arbonne) or if you sold a certain amount within your first so many days then you got your kit free (Norwex).  Some companies had multiple kit options and the larger your kit the more items you got (either for you personally to use or as inventory if it is a company where you keep inventory).

Most of the starter kits were $99-$200, so I think it’s a safe assumption to say that’s probably what you should expect to spend to join an MLM.

How much do you have sell and/or buy each month to stay active and/or earn commissions?  What happens if you miss a month (don’t sell or purchase enough)?

I didn’t realize when I asked this just how confusing all the answers were going to be!  Ha!  Some companies run on quarters or yearly versus monthly and there was a wide variety of answers.

What I did learn across the board is that with most of the companies if you don’t sell or purchase one month it’s not a big deal – you probably won’t earn your commissions but there are no penalties (as long as you meet your quarterly/yearly totals if applicable).  That is how Young Living is (if you choose not to purchase your monthly amount there is no penalty, you just won’t earn your commissions) and it’s good to hear that other companies are like that too.  That way if life gets crazy or finances are tight you can take a break and then pick it up later.

Briefly explain the compensation structure of your company.

Whyyyyyy did I even ask this question?  Ha!  Reality is that there is no brief way to explain the comp plan of most companies.  Unfortunately (for me while trying to wade through all the responses) there are lots of “if this then this” and “you earn this on that level” and so on.

Based on the responses, the earnings ranged from 10%-50% on products that people buy directly from you and then a different (smaller) percentage when you sign other distributors up under you and they make sales as well.

I recommend checking with Google or an active consultant for the specific company(ies) you are considering and take a closer look at their compensation structures that way.

What are the pros of being a distributor/consultant/rep for your company?

Some of the common responses were:
– setting your own hours
– helping other people
– earning trips
– getting bonuses
– being able to do your work online
– having a flexible side job in addition to a full time job
– making friends/the camaraderie of the company
– getting free/discounted products

What are the cons of being a distributor/consultant/rep for your company?

Some of the responses included:
– saturation of consultations (lots of people already sell that product)
– taking more time than anticipated to support your team
– making new contacts if you are an introvert
– having to be self-motivated
– the bad reputations that MLMs/direct sales sometimes have
– people being turned off by the prices of products
– cost of maintaining a website
– customers unhappy with products breaking
– feeling pushed by upline to sell/work more than you want to

The bottom line is: you’ll find good things and bad, positive and negative, about each company.  You’ll find many consultants (like the ones who answered my survey) who adore their product and company as well as others who hated it and quit.  There will be some people who do this full time and make big bucks and many others who do this part time and earn a little extra spending money.

My best advice if you want to join an MLM is to pick a product that you love.  You will definitely have the most success selling something that you enjoy that that you truly think others will want/need too.  It’s also good to sign up with someone you are friends with or who you know will offer you lots of support since that’s the person you’ll be working the most closely with during your direct sales journey.

Of course I would be happy to talk to you about Young Living if you are interested in trying essential oils and/or being a distributor.  I also have the contact information for all the ladies who filled out my survey so if you want me to pass that on to you so you can get in touch with a certain consultant let me know.

Are you involved with any sort of MLM/direct sales/network marketing?  Anything you would like to add to what the survey takers mentioned above?

(Also, this is the last Money Monday I had planned.  If you have a specific topic you’d like me to address let me know, otherwise this is the end.  It’s been fun!)