Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dear 2010

Dear 2010,

You were some kind of year. I have to say that I liked you better than 2009, but let's face it. 2009 set the bar so low that you didn't have to do much to exceed expectations.

These were the things that made this year spectacular. Chris and I completed a half marathon. My son turned one, went from speech delayed to talking in sentences and discovered Thomas the Train. My daughter started preschool, made and kept awesome friends, got two loose teeth and learned to swim.

We welcomed a new member to our family this year... our new house. It's a great, big, warm hug! This is definitely a highlight of 2010. launched in 2010. We had such a year of ups and downs when it came to finally launching our business, but it was worth every bit of worrying, agonizing, praying, texting, blood, sweat and tears to finally see our hard work live and in living color. I couldn't be more proud of than if it was one of my own children. I guess in a lot of ways, it is! I am so excited about what 2011 has in store for

Okay 2011, here are the areas that I see that need improvement. I would really like to get this whole "Chronic Asthma" figured out with my son. It's been very hard to limit where and who he has contact with. I just want him to get to be a little boy again. Also, it would be nice if my daughter's kindergarten experience is a very positive one. I know that it's eight months away, but I have already begun to worry.

If I have to ask for something for myself, it would be awesome if we could add one extra hour to the day. I am convinced that if I had one extra child free hour a day, I could cure cancer, broker world peace and get a hot meal on the dinner table. Not too much to ask, right?

In all seriousness 2011, I ask that your bring healthy babies to all my expecting friends, bless my family with good health and give my children enough struggles to build character, but not enough to cripple them. I hope that one year from now that I will write this letter and say 2011 brought us more love, laughter and life than we ever thought possible.


Monday, December 27, 2010

If I had only known... I would have told myself goodbye!

Wow! This is a hard blog post to write. See, here's the deal. I don't like to think that having kids has changed me. This holiday season has thrown the ugly truth in my face time and time again. The Carolanne pre-children no longer exists. I'm really sad to see her go. I wish I had known that she was leaving. I would have had a going away party. Some say that my baby shower was my time to bid farewell, but looking back, I still was clinging to the old me. No! I have to say that starting was when I realized just how much having children has changed me.

Before I had children, some would say, I was a workaholic. Yes! I checked my work e-mail on Christmas. Yes! I was on work e-mail while I was in labor with my daughter. Yes! I made my employees work Christmas Eve (I did let them off at noon). I worked seven-days-a-week. I prided myself on being dependable, hard working and always available.

So.... Here I sit two days past Christmas. My old self is warring against the mom self. I've taken a week off from In that week, I've discovered two sort of competitors that have entered the market place. I can't stand it. I want to do nothing but sit at my computer and gather research. I feel like someone is getting ahead of me. I want to launch a PR blitz, advertising campaign and Web site update NOW! I want to do nothing but talk about how we can gain more market share.

Then, there is my mom side. My daughter wants me to play neighborhood (imagine seven different boxes with doll house furniture lined up to look like a street). My son wants me to push a train around the track for the 8000th time. Then, there is my house that looks like Toys R Us vomited in it. My husband wants me to play PlayStation, go to lunch and watch movies.

I want to split myself in two!

Don't get me wrong. I want to play with my kids and husband. I know that in the not too distant future, my kids would rather shove hot pokers in their eyes then spend time with me. I just am struggling with finding the ability to be present in their lives and my work life. How do full time working stay-at-home moms do it?

I don't have the answer. I'm hoping that through this journey of building into a multimillion dollar business that I'll figure it out. When I do, you, my loyal blog readers, will be the first to know. In the meantime, I'll keep sharing my struggles.


P.S. You can create an account and try for free. See! I can't help myself. The marketer in me just can't take a minute off :-)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tall Boots to Fill

 If you are ever visiting here in Texas, or if you live here, you might hear someone say, “Those are mighty tall boots to fill”. Doing all the duties of a stay-at-home Mom of two young children, running AND getting ready for Christmas with all the family coming to stay at my home for holiday weekend, I have some mighty tall boots to fill! The holidays come with a lot of expectations of us women who keep everything going (or at least try to)(or at least think we keep it all going) during this hectic and over-scheduled time of year.  I think that I create a lot of extra stress by the expectations that I put on myself. Why do I always do that?  Well, here is how I try to explain it. When you can see in your mind how great an occasion could be, how much fun everyone would have, if you had time to bring to fruition all of the ideas and extra details that you can see in your mind, then it is really hard to NOT do them: especially when you know you have the ability to do them. The problem all comes down to time. There just isn’t enough time to do it all. Sooooooo, what you end up doing is using the time you should be sleeping to do more to try to fill those darn tall boots. And then you end up a cranky sleep deprived hostess wondering why it doesn’t feel like Christmas to you. Enough!

Me? This year, I’m going to let some of the fun ideas and creative details slide. I’m just not going to do them all. I’m going to let go of the big picture idea I have in my mind about how great and fun and cool the Christmas experience could be for everyone who is coming to my house this year. I’ve decorated the house so it looks festive, cozy, and merry. I’m going to pull out plenty of lap blankets so everyone can sit around and relax or nap or wrap up in to enjoy the season. I bought a big 1,500 piece puzzle that will be brought out and put on the dining table once all the Christmas dishes are cleared so that people can sit around and work the puzzle as they come and go over the long weekend. And lastly, I bought festive paper plates so I don’t have to constantly be doing the dishes after every meal. All the other great extra ideas I had are going to be saved for next year, or the year after, or whenever if ever.  I’m going to fill my tall boots with the magical moments and memories that Christmas brings… because that is what Santa would want (and my husband, children, family and friends too.) Enjoy the season!


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Big Day

(Read this post second if you haven't already read this one.)

Let's see! Where I last left off was the big run. It's half marathon run day. Let me set the scene. It was cold like below freezing cold. It was wet like pouring rain wet. It was early like before dawn early. Not really, but that's how I felt. It was in the low 40's. I'm a Texas girl. When it's 55 degrees its too cold to play outside. It was really damp, but it wasn't raining. I got the early part dead right.

Chris and I got up at 4:30 to get dressed and eat something. We went downstairs and stared at the food and at each other. At one point, we both started laughing because the scene was ridiculous. The lobby was filled with runners. They were pumped to be there and excited to "get going." We made death look healthy. Who wants to eat DURING THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT? Not me. I had a Diet Coke (drink of champions) and a banana. But, You weren't getting this girl to smile.

Melissa met us at our hotel and walked to the starting line about a 1.5 mile walk. It really seems pointless to drive when you're about to run 13.1 miles (Yes! the .1 is very important). We lined up by time that we thought it was take us to complete it. Oops! Guess what! I have to go to the bathroom. The line was long and the port-a-potty's were cold and gross. I just decided to hold it. I mean seriously. We are about to run 13.1 miles. My bladder was the least of my worries.

They fired the starting gun. Then, we just started walking to the start line. It's really quite counter intuitive to the whole starting gun sound. Finally, it was our turn. We hit the timing mat and off we started running. The course starts off up hill. Yes! The first three miles are up hill. This Texas girl trained on flat ground. It never occurred to me that the hills of Austin might be an issue. At mile marker one, I ran by a girl that had fallen and bloodied her knee. This is how desperate I was to quit this half marathon. I ENVIED HER! She had an excuse for not finishing. I so hoped that I would fall into a pot hole and have to be carried away on a stretcher.

At mile two, I stopped running at the water table. My legs ached. New muscles (yet to be developed) were screaming. It was very clear that I was not prepared to run hills. I took five minutes to sip a glass of water, go to the bathroom and have a "coming to Jesus" with myself. I hadn't trained for four months for this to quit now. I am not a quitter. Who cares if the hills are hard and my legs hurt. It's two hours of my life. I survived a serious car accident when I was 16. I birthed two children, one of them naturally. I just ran 10 miles after a year of very serious setbacks. I can do this.

So I did! I just started running. I fell in with a running group from Austin. They were kind enough to accept me into their pack. They taught me (talk about on the job training) how to run the hills of Austin. I learned that you wipe your snotty nose on your sleeve or your gloves (yucky!). I learned that if someone offers you a piece of sugary candy along the way that you accept it and suck on it. I also learned that the people that line the roads that hold signs and cheer for you can be very motivating.

I think we look pretty darn good
for just running 13.1 miles!
At about mile 11, we turned the corner and saw the State of Texas Capital Dome. It was the most beautiful thing that I have seen. Not the building, but the gentle slope downward toward it. I was almost finished.

I ran around the capital building and eyed the finish line. I had done it! My legs hurt so badly. My hips ached from running the hills. I had to go to the restroom like crazy. When I started the race a couple of hours before, I thought that I was running for my kids to show them I could accomplish my goal. I thought that I was running to prove that I could. In the end, I realized that I was running to escape the last two years of trauma to my body. In two hours and 36 minutes (includes my five minute stop to have a "comin' to Jesus" with myself), I had proven to myself that I could do anything that I put my mind to. I did this for me. The years of being pregnant and breastfeeding might have changed how I looked phyiscally but mentally, I was still tough as nails.

Almost a year later, I still get emotional as I write this. With time to reflect on my accomplishment, my half marathon was a big turning point in my life. I now run because I really enjoy it. I try to run about 20 miles a week. My next goal is a full marathon but not until my baby is in kindergarten. It takes so much time to train. Less than 1% of the world's population can say they've done one. I'm just adding it to the bucket list. I'm also mulling over a triathlon (the swimming part scares me).

When asked what piece of advice that I have for beginning runners, this is what I say. Make sure that you're doing it for the right reasons. If you're trying to lose weight or want a hobby to do with your friend or spouse, it's probably not enough motivation. Here's the practical advice. Run a few 5K and 10K's before the big race. If I had done that, I would have learned a whole about running in a group, maintaining a pace and most importantly, what to do with a drippy nose.

As we runners say, "just one more mailbox..."

This is now the reason that I run!

Saturday, December 4, 2010


I stated running this time last year. I chose running because it was something that I could do that did not require a gym membership. I also chose it because it was something that I never felt that I was very good at. In third grade, we played soccer during PE class. I remember quite vividly running up and down the field and being more winded than the the other kids. I needed a challenge (apparently, starting a business and being a full time mom with a sub one-year-old wasn't challenging enough).

I signed up and paid my money to run the Austin, Texas Marathon which was held on February 14, 2010. At the time that I paid my money (October 2009), I couldn't run a full mile. I had spent the first part of 2009 on bed rest with my son. At 29 weeks, it wasn't clear if my body could continue the pregnancy. By shear determination, we made it 37 weeks, and I had a healthy baby boy. Three weeks after he was born, I fell (just call me "grace") and broke my foot. When he was three-months-old (June 2009), I had emergency surgery. By the time October 2009 rolled around, I still didn't feel like myself. All the stress my body has been put under during the previous year and a half had taken its toll on me mentally and physically. I had to do something to reclaim the old Carolanne.

An e-mail appeared in my inbox asking me to donate money to the Lance Armstrong Foundation LiveStrong. I thought, instead of donating money I'll do it. I'll run the half marathon. My husband decided to run it with me as a show of support for my very difficult year. I also recruited a friend, Melissa, to run it with me.

I found an awesome running program online that detailed out how a novice should train for a half marathon. I did everything that the program asked me to do. People have asked me if it was easy. The answer is sort of. It's amazing how your body responds to exercise. For a year and a half, I had been pregnant or immobile. Once I reintroduced my body to exercise, muscle memory kicked in. I got better and better with each run. Also, a very experienced runner told me that if you can physically run three miles, the rest is mental. I agree with this. It's hard! You have to push yourself to continue on even when your legs are screaming at you. Most importantly, you have to make it a priority. I had to say, "Yes! The baby just woke up from his nap, and he's crying. However, I have five minutes of cool down that I must do so that I don't injure myself." The running is very hard on your legs and feet. About two weeks before the half marathon, I lost feeling in both sets of toes. My doctor advised me to quit running. Are you kidding? I didn't do all of this training for nothing. That's when we had a frank discussion of "is this going to kill me or permanently injure me?" The answer was no so I kept training.

The weekend before the half marathon on a very cold, wet morning Chris, Melissa and I completed our final run before the big day - 10 MILES. I, Carolanne Norris, who couldn't run a full mile in October ran (not walked) 10 miles at the beginning of February.

Stay Tuned... Next Post I'll tell you about the half marathon. Let's just say, that it was much more of a challenge than I thought.