Friday, July 25, 2014

Vacationing In Paradise-We're Growing Up

Friends, I am writing you from the Rockies.  In particular, Breckenridge, Colorado.  We arrived yesterday after a seven hour car ride up here.  We're the type of people that like to leave early and get in as early as possible.  Our kids tend to do best driving wise if we get an early start so we headed out of Albuquerque first thing and arrived here in the late afternoon.

It was like driving into a fantasy world.  No joke.  There is good reason Breckenridge is a world renown ski resort and vacation spot.  Unbelievable, I tell you.  In fact, their off season is the summer, and so we actually got a pretty decent deal for a condo.  I am sure this place goes for twice the cost during ski season.  The main reason we are here is that some of our best friends from Monte Vista, next-door neighbors in fact for a few years who moved to Florida, are vacationing in Breckenridge with their family.  So when we found out that they'd only be seven hours from us and not several states away, we had to come see them.  Just had to come.

We are moving up to Colorado two weeks from today.  So when we get back on Sunday, my busy packing mode will move into Ninja Packing mode.  The kids hadn't been to Colorado yet.  After arriving here yesterday Isaac said to his Daddy, "Okay, I am SO excited to moving here!  This place is amazing!"  Yes son, Colorado is amazing.  We are Californians and we are used to a lot of natural beauty.  Probably took it for granted somewhat.  We're also mountain people.  Love hiking.  Love the cool mountain air and the trees.  The beach is nice but put us up on a mountain any day.  So this whole state really appeals to us.  Lots of natural beauty.  It's cool enough to be outside right now (not so back in Albuquerque) and let the kids run.  Truly a treat for our kids.  They are soaking it up.

Besides soaking up the mountain air, we are soaking up friends.  These are people we used to see everyday, many times a day. Our kids grew up together (along with a few other families from MV).  When they announced they were moving to FL in 10 days,  I was 36 weeks pregnant with Nathan.  I am not a big crier but I BAWLED.  It was all so sudden and I didn't quite know what I would do with myself without them next to us.  I didn't know how my kids were going to handle it.  Isaac still can't talk about it without getting teary.  He had to say good-bye to both of his best friends from MV in one year.  It wasn't easy.  But such is life sometimes.  We all have to move on and go where God leads us.  And more than we want our friends near us, we want God's best for them.  

 But that's also what makes the reunion so much sweeter.  We have friends from Cal Poly that we are still as close to, if not closer, than when we all parted a decade ago.  So even though we can't be near each other all the time, we can still have these times, our memories, and we know that we'll stay close over the years.

On our drive up Steve grabbed my hand and said, "Can you believe that we are going on a vacation in the Colorado Rockies?  If you would've told me a year ago that we'd be doing this, I would have thought you were crazy."  I responded, "Lots of change over this last year.  New career.  New degree.  Two out-of-state moves.  I started a business.  Going to Breckenridge is a huge indicator that we've grown up.  No more young college kids, just starting out.  We've got five kids who are getting older.  We're grown up now."

When we drove in to this, I was totally amazed.  I mean really, unbelievable.

Being here, with friends, Such a blessing.

This PhD adventure has been just that, an adventure.  But God has provided every step of the way.  Through Steve's job at Sandia Labs, my Rodan + Fields business and Colorado State, we are still able to steal away for a few days and enjoy God's creation and some of our best friends in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

 I like growing up.  It definitely is risky to pick-up and move, change careers, jump into grad school (again)  full-time this time though, and it's definitely been exciting and scary for me to start my own business.  Yet seven months in, I've been blown away by how much I've been blessed!  If we don't take those steps, take a risk, SAY YES to uncertainty, we have no idea the blessings that are on the other side of that.  God says over and over in His word, "I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys.  I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water."  Isaiah 41:18.  And "I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them.  I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground.  These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them"  Isaiah 42:16

Living is risky.  But I've always thought that it's better to live out loud and try new things, seeking the Lord on these unknown paths than to look back and wish I would've taken that step.  When we seek the Lord, work really hard and trust God to take care of us along the way, He will do it!

I have often been afraid over the last year.  How were we going to pay for Steve's schooling without debt?  How would we live?  Where would our kids go to school?  Would we have any friends?  How would we financially make it through this PhD with a family of seven?  How would we do living in another state and then how would we  move again so soon after?  The list goes on and on.

But I wanted what was on the other side  more.  And I trusted God would be there.  And boy has He!  All last summer as Steve was doing his internship at the research firm in Monterey, God kept bringing this verse to me.  We had sent out hundreds, and I mean, HUNDREDS of job applications.  We had been networking with family and friends for months!!  And finally, through a friend of a friend of my Dad's, Steve got given this internship.  That internship is what spawned all of this adventure for us.  So many doors slammed in our faces.  So many no's.  But we knew what we were after and wouldn't give up until we got there.  We didn't expect it all to play out like this but, it's SO much better than we could've ever dreamed.

"Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."  Isaiah 43:18-19

Amen and amen!  Take a risk./  God is an expert at making streams in the desert.

Excited to see what God will do over this next year.  Trusting more streams in the desert.  Not always easy to walk these paths but always GOOD as we trust in the ONE who is guiding us and providing for us along the way.

We're all grown up now...  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

So What HAVE I Been Doing?

I must state the obvious-I definitely have not been blogging :).  What have I been doing done here in the desert?

Well for one, I've been resting (kind of).  I know that sounds funny but, for nearly four years, Steve worked full-time and went to school in his off time.  That meant we didn't see him much at all.  Many nights and every Saturday were spent studying.  Even though Steve has had to study quite a bit to get up to speed at Sandia, all of that studying has been his work.  So he's had great hours.  Going in early, getting home in time for dinner and then getting every other Friday off.  It's been bliss I tell you.  And even though we've been making friends, our social calendar has been pretty quiet.  So we have had six straight months of great Daddy time and husband/wife time.  Heaven.  We needed it.

But the main thing I've been doing is building my Rodan + Fields business.  I'd be totally remiss if I didn't mention it.  It's pretty much been my sixth child.  So once Steve and I knew that we were going to pursue his PhD, we knew I was going to have to do something to contribute because we also knew that we didn't want to go into debt for him to get this degree.  We'd already paid off Cal Poly, we'd paid for Texas A & M as we went through the program and we didn't want this new degree to be mortgaging our future.  No way!  But we also knew this was an amazing opportunity and one that had come straight from God's hand.  We had to take it.

So we prayed.  Where there is a will, there IS a way.  God provided so many things.  Steve was given a full-ride to Colorado State University which was amazing because paying out-of-state tuition is quite expensive.  He was also given the internship at Sandia which has allowed us to save a decent amount over the past seven months and has given him the opportunity to telecommute part-time next year while in classes.  That part-time job will pay our main expenses.

But we have five kids.  And they are expensive.  Most grad students are single, or newly married.  Not old with five kids!  Ha ha!  It was plain.  I had to do something to help support us during this time.  But it had to be a job I could do from home all around my kids' schedule.  I had a friend that I knew had replaced her full-time nursing income in 10 months with part-time hours, to become a stay-at-home mommy to her daughter.  She had done it through Rodan + Fields.  She and I spoke and I knew it was an incredible business opportunity.

So two days after we moved to New Mexico, I partnered with the same two Stanford trained doctors, Dr. Rodan and Dr. Fields, that developed ProActiv back in the 90's by joining Rodan + Fields Dermatologists as an Independent Consultant.  I was looking for a company that was reputable, had products that were excellent and gave people amazing results, a flexible work schedule and a generous pay plan.  R + F was all of that and more.  

I was given the opportunity to leverage this already established brand that had a great reputation from ProActiv.  All of the products have been through independent clinical trials, giving real, quantifiable results.  They also came with a 60 day money back guarantee further proving their efficacy and endorsing the company's credibility.  I could work whenever I wanted, from wherever I wanted.  I could run my business off of my phone if I wanted to.  And the pay plan was worth all of my effort.  In the last six months, I earned back my investment in the first sixty days and since then, I've built enough of a business to support our rent and groceries next year when Steve only works part-time all while providing an incredible service to my valued customers who were in search of great skin care.  They are truly the reason I am in business today and I am so thankful for their support!!

This business has been a blast.  I knew nothing about skincare or sales before.  But we have incredible team support and the business is duplicatable.  If one follows the plan, they will be successful.  So that's what I've been doing.  Following the plan and running this race.  I've been building a business.  I've been wiping noses and bottoms and gaining team members!  I've been training and reading books to my littles.  I've been homeschooling and doing sales calls for my downline to help them train.  And I've been supporting my Mathematician who is my favorite person of them all!

I have seven direct teammates.  And I love every single one of them.  They bless me every day.  One of my favorite parts of the whole deal is helping my friends and family build businesses that are significantly changing their family's financial futures.  And then seeing them do the same and give more than they ever have before.  That's incredible to me!

It's been amazing.  Totally amazing.  God has given me a way that I can help support Steve through grad school while still doing what I do best, run my home and cheer for him.  I am so thankful.

So I haven't been blogging but, I have been busy.  Hoping to remedy the blogging thing but, know I haven't been idle.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Long Lost Nikki

So it's true.  I've been lost.  Lost in Albuquerque.  Lost in homeschooling.  Lost in starting a business.  But guess what?  I am finding my way again!  I haven't forgotten about all of you.  I've just been trying to establish a new normal and learn how to run my house with all five littles underfoot again all day, here in the crazy southwest.  And since my husband's career has changed, so has my role in supporting him.  I'm no longer a teacher's wife but, a Mathematician's wife.  And that's quite different, I may say!  One is not necessarily better than the other, they're just different.  I knew everything about his job at Monte Vista.  I know nothing about his work at Sandia and can never know.  That has taken some getting used to.  I like to know everything about him.  Because I love him, you know.  Anyhow, enough said.

Okay, so Albuquerque.  First of all, you need to know, the Southwest is a pretty great place.  I have really grown to love it here.  I truly think that anyone can be happy anywhere if they put their mind to it and decide to be thankful.  When I moved here, I had never visited and did not know what I'd think of it.  But I was determined to learn and figure it out.  It's really been a great place.  Growing up in California, I was definitely spoiled with amazing, mild weather, green trees and beautiful landscapes wherever you go.  The weather here isn't extreme but it's cold in the winter and hot in the summer.  It's also very windy.  I never knew there could be such strong wind.  When I say Albuquerque, I know that you all are thinking arid, desolate, high desert.  And in some sense, you're right.  Either that or Breaking Bad...possibly both.  Okay, I get it.  But let me tell you, there is some real beauty here.  The Sandia Mountains are positively MAJESTIC.  That is them off in the distance.
And here is a taste of my morning run.  I love that I live on an Air Force base and I can run super early without feeling unsafe.  Watching the sunrise is one of my favorite things to do!
One of the most amazing things though that I've experienced is the amazing power of people.  I have met some of the most genuine, loving and caring people.  I've never lived out of state.  I've never known a different climate or way of life.  But I have to say, that living here has shown me, that no matter where I go, there will be great people to meet.  There will be others to cross paths with, even for a short time, that will be an encouragement.

Just this last week the two middle kids have been in swim lessons here on base.  That is Joshua and Elliana.  They are having a blast.  Within two days, I'd made friends with these ladies there.  One of them, her husband is a Scientist at the labs and the other, is just visiting Albuquerque (it's home for her) but her husband is a Major in the US Air Force and they live in the Midwest now.  The first friend has had us over to play twice in the last week and the other has gone running with me at the wee hours twice before having to leave to go home.  The military community is like this.  There isn't time to mess around and wait.  People live in the moment and just love each other.  You never know when someone will get orders and have to move away.  

We've had other people take us into their home and feed us when we were new here.  Dropping off food, babysitting our kids and inviting us over to dinner.  We've stayed up late with these people, shared our hearts and laughed HARD!  We don't have a history yet.  But they've loved us deeply simply because we are a part of their community.  I've had other friends I've met from the kids' baseball teams sit on my couches, trying out great skincare, chatting with neighbors and talking about life.  More friends I've met through a boot camp a bunch of us moms have participated in at Hardin Field twice a week.  We're all moving our jiggly bodies, chasing after kids and laughing at how hard it is to do the moves our trainer makes us do (positively evil I tell you...I am a runner...I don't do least not very often-ha!).  And not only have I met some incredible people but Steve works for the best guys ever.  So often I hear wives say that their husbands really dislike their superiors.  But Steve loves his.  They are so encouraging, patient, kind and hard-working.  They push him to his best.  Both Mentors Steve works with at Sandia Labs have been the BEST.  We thank God so much that He put Steve with those two.  We're so lucky.  All of these things have been precious to me here in Albuquerque.  
Our time here has been brief.  But it's been substantial.  And it's not over yet.  We'll be coming back next year.  It's been substantial for Steve's growth as a Mathematician.  It's been substantial for our family's growth as a family of 7 in the middle of a PhD.  It's been substantial for my growth as a wife.  Believe me, learning how to live on a military base, when you're a civilian is a job in itself.  But it's also been a blast.  We only have 1 month left here.  And even though I am positively ECSTATIC to move to Fort Collins (which is like SLO in the dream place to live), Albuquerque will be missed.  Very missed.

Yes, I've been lost in life here.  But it's been a sweet, sweet time and a time that I will treasure.

Expect more posting from me.  There's too many good stories not to share.  Miss talking with you all.  Catch up soon.