Clickin' Moms

My Trip To St. Louis And The Scentsy Family Reunion

St. Louis Arch

I just got back from St. Louis and had an amazing time! I was there for the 10th anniversary Scentsy Family Reunion!

I had SO much fun!

I got to spend time with Scentsy sisters, see a new city, learn about new products and get inspired. I was also able to go to lunch with a high school friend I had not seen in years!

Scentsy Sisters

I arrived on Tuesday and met up with one of my roommates. We hadn’t met before but had connected on Facebook. Since our other two roommates were getting in later, her friend picked us up and took us to the hotel. We stayed at the Hampton Inn and it was great. I was impressed by the free breakfast that they had each morning. We dropped our stuff off and headed back to the airport to pick up the other two. One of them was my Scentsy “niece” I had met last year and the other was a friend of our other roommate.

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Later that night I got to go to a Sarah Bareilles concert. Now I knew some her of songs but I didn’t know a thing about her. I loved the concert. She was a lot of fun. Found out she is exactly my age and from California too. I am claiming her song Brave as my theme song for the rest of the year :)

On Wednesday morning we had a 5K put on by Scentsy. My group walked and made it in about an hour. We all had to wear silly socks which was fun. After the walk I didn’t take the bus back with everyone else. I waited for my friend Heather to come pick me up. I met Heather in high school. We were both on the swim team but she moved to Rhode Island when we were 16. We have kept in touch and my mom and I got to visit her when we were 19. We also got to go to her wedding in 2005 and that was the last time we had seen each other. I am so glad it worked out to visit with her. She is now a mom of three kids too and I love that. It is a great feeling being friends with someone for so long.

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We went to eat at Fitz’s which was great. You can watch them bottle the drinks while you are eating. We then walked around a little and went to the Arch. We didn’t go inside but it was nice to see it up close.

Fitz's Rootbear

She dropped me off at my hotel and I met up with my Scentsy friends again. We had a dinner together and then went to the Scentsy pep rally and Train concert. We got to see a lot of the new warmers and scents coming out in the fall. In Oprah like fashion, they gave everyone in the audience a set of mini testers for the fall. That was super fun and exciting! Train was amazing too.

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Thursday we started all the sessions. This year in addition to the general sessions we had “breakout” ones too. We got to pick which classes we wanted to go to based on what we wanted to learn about. It was great! Thursday was free night but I had gotten some free tickets to the Cardinal’s game so me and three others went together. After the game we decided to hit the Scentsy store again and then a friend and I went to have a very late dinner at the pub under our hotel. We sat there looking through the new catalog which was nice.

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Friday was a bunch of inspirational speakers including John O’Leary. If you have not heard of him, go like his page. He has been through a lot but he is so encouraging and has a great sense of humor too. We got to listen to a few consultant speakers as well. I love that. I love hearing from people who have had so much success with the company. It really inspires me.

After the last session it was time for me to head home. I had to go early because Ben had drill the next day. It was hard to leave but in the end it worked out okay. They still hadn’t announced where the new Reunion was going to be and what our incentive trip was. I was waiting to hear from friends and got the news right before I boarded the plane. It was pretty much all I thought about on the flight.

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Next year the Scentsy Family Reunion will be in Las Vegas! I am SO excited about this!

Our incentive will be a cruise in Puerto Rico which is super exciting! I love cruises so I will be trying my hardest to win this one.

I would really encourage anyone in direct sales to try to attend their annual conference. It is investing in your business, allowing you the opportunity to meet and bond with others and inspiring you for the next year. And learning about the new products ahead of time is also a big plus.

I also loved that I got to visit St. Louis. My Mom lived there for a few years and it was great to see party of a city that my Grandparents called home for a time.

 

 

 

Camping With Kids

The last weekend in June we went camping at the Land Between The Lakes with our kids and dog for the first time. I grew up camping. We went to Yosemite, Big Bear and other random spots in Southern California. I was a Girl Scout for 12 years so that also included a lot of camping. We also went a couple of times as a couple before we had kids.

Camping With Children

Man, camping with kids and a dog is something else.

We stayed for two nights although we were going to stay for three. We ended up going home early because it was rather stressful and it was so hot that second day. I am used to camping in the mountains of California where it gets warm but not humid hot like that. It also rained on us on Sunday morning. At first that was frustrating but it actually cooled down the day and we got used to it.

Overall it was a good little trip. Stressful yes, but I am glad we did it. It has taken us all this time to go camping with the kids. Partly because of deployments and partly because of being worried about camping with small children.

I think if I didn’t like camping already, I never would have wanted to try it.

Camping at Piney Campground

We are probably going to wait until next year to go again. Probably in May before it gets too hot.

We need to get a tarp to put over the eating area. That would have made things easier with the rain. And here, there is always going to be a chance of some rain.

We bought a new tent because our other one was too small for all of us. We still had a stove and other random items from our pre-kid camping trips. The boys loved the smores and swimming in the lake. Drew had a hard time with the whole idea of it. On Sunday morning he was ready to go home. “Awe, this was fun but I am done now. I want my own bed.”

 

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Next time I would like to find a campground that is more spread out. We went to Piney and I was impressed with it. Everything was nice, bathrooms were clean but the camp sites seemed really small and close to me. I guess I am used to have more space. I think I would like a campsite that was a little bigger, had more room for the kids to play and was a little further away from other sites. It might just have been where we were located within Piney. I did love the view we had of the lake. That was nice to wake up to.

Camping at Land Between The Lakes

Camping at piney campground

Have you been camping with your children yet?

 

So You Want To Get A VA Loan?

file0001117035713Military families can have a difficult time trying to decide if they should buy a house where they are currently stationed at. There really is a lot to think about. It also depends on how long they will be staying, what their options are and what their goals might be. There really are a lot of pros and cons to buying a house when you are in the Military. 

In July of 2011 we started looking at houses here in the Clarksville area. We were renting and needed  to move. Rent was too expensive for us so our options were to move on post or buy a house. We knew we would be in the area for a while. At least until 2014, if not longer. We knew that we didn’t really want to live on post. We wanted the extra space and freedom that buying a house would provide.

We also knew we could get a VA loan. A VA loan is a mortgage loan guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The loan is issued by qualified banks and lenders. It was created in 1944 as a way to help those who have served in the Military receive a home loan a little easier. It is important to remember that the VA loan is a way to fund the loan. You will still get the loan through a bank and have a monthly mortgage payment.

As far as banks go, some people like to go with USAA. As much as we love using them for everything else, we had heard going through a local bank is your best bet for a home loan so that is what we did. I do know a lot of people who are very happy with their USAA home loans too so it really just depends.

We found our house and started the VA loan process not sure what to expect. It actually went very smoothly and we paid very little out of pocket. There is a VA funding fee but it most cases you can add it into the loan. This is what we did so we pretty much just paid for the inspection and that was it.

If you do decide to go ahead and get a VA loan, it is best to go with a realtor that knows what to expect from them. The VA can be pretty picky about what it accepts. If something is wrong with the house, it might make it harder for the VA to approve it. If you have a good realtor that knows what to look for, they can tell if there is something about the house that might make it more difficult to get approved.

Buying a house is a big decision for anyone, especially military families. There is a lot that goes into it. Three years later I am glad that we did decide to buy a house here. We have no plans to move in the immediate future and we love our home. 

Have you bought a house with you VA loan? Thinking about it?

 

See’s Candies Invites Consumers to Visit Local Shops to Write Personalized Thank-You Notes for U.S. Service Members

I love See’s Candies! Here is some information on how they support the troops :)

See’s Candies Invites Consumers to Visit Local Shops to Write Personalized Thank-You Notes for U.S. Service Members

See’s Candies Expands Partnership with Operation Gratitude to Show Appreciation for Men and Women in Uniform

2012 FRLollypops -  media relations 

LOS ANGELES – June 26, 2014 – See’s Candies, one of the most trusted and timeless candy makers in the country, is expanding its partnership with Operation Gratitude to support members of the U.S. military.  Starting Saturday (June 28) through July 6, See’s will provide materials in its shops for customers to write personal notes of gratitude to our troops. Shop associates will collect these notes which will be delivered to Operation Gratitude, to include in their care packages and send to service members who are stationed all over the world.

See’s has worked with Operation Gratitude since 2006, providing candy for care packages. The organization assembles packages year-round and delivers them to veterans, first responders, recruits, wounded warriors, care givers, and U.S. service members deployed overseas. Their mission is to lift spirits and meet the evolving needs of the active-duty and veteran communities, and provide volunteer opportunities for all Americans to express their appreciation to members of our Military. See’s fans and customers can now join the candy maker in showing their own appreciation by visiting a shop and writing a personalized message for the troops.

“As we approach Independence Day, we at See’s think it’s important to make sure our military know how grateful we are for their service,” said Brad Kinstler, president & CEO of See’s Candies. “We’ve been working with Operation Gratitude for years to share our American-made chocolate with U.S. service members.  We’re pleased that we can now invite our customers to join us in supporting our troops by sharing their thanks in personalized, handwritten letters.”

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See’s fans and customers who are unable to visit a shop before July 6 can show their support by visiting www.sees.com/operationgratitude and completing an online form with their personal messages for U.S. service members. See’s will print the notes and deliver them to Operation Gratitude for inclusion in their care packages.

The troops often express surprise and appreciation when they receive these special care packages and personalized notes.  In response to receiving a package, one lieutenant colonel wrote, “I received an unexpected care package from you today and it is a little embarrassing how touched I was by your generosity. I have been sitting here trying to understand why this care package was so different from the others. I think it’s because you don’t know me. We expect to get things from friends and family, but you sent me something out of a deep respect for your country and its defenders. That’s powerful. I wanted you to know that your thoughtfulness made today better for all of us.”

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About Operation Gratitude:

Operation Gratitude annually sends 150,000+ care packages filled with snacks, entertainment, hygiene and hand-made items, plus personal letters of support, to Veterans, First Responders, Recruits, Wounded Warriors, Care Givers and to individually named U.S. Service Members deployed overseas. Our mission is to lift the spirits and meet the evolving needs of our Active Duty and Veteran communities, and provide volunteer opportunities for all Americans to express their appreciation to members of our Military. Each package contains donated product valued at $75-100 and costs the organization $15 to assemble and ship. Since its inception in 2003, Operation Gratitude volunteers have shipped more than One Million Care Packages.

About See’s Candies:

Delivering deliciousness since 1921, we happily continue to make candy Mary See’s way, using only the finest ingredients — with no added preservatives. Our chocolates and treats are American-made in our own candy kitchens, from our decadent truffles and chocolate-covered nuts to gourmet lollypops and our crunchy Peanut Brittle, its quality you can taste in every piece.

Step inside one of our shops, and you’ll see a crisp, clean black-and-white checkered motif inspired by Mary’s original kitchen.  Each day, visitors are welcomed with the friendliest service and can choose a delicious piece of candy to try.

Headquartered in sunny California, we have over 200 retail shops across the country and an online shop that serves See’s fans around the world. We continue to uphold our commitment to delivering the highest level of taste, quality, tradition and service.

Mary would be proud.

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