Thursday, January 27, 2011

Like for a Good Cause!

When we originally started brainstorming what we wanted to be, the number one theme was that it had to support women. Because we have been so blessed in our own lives both personally and professionally, we have decided to give back to support another mom who is having her own struggles. Here’s the deal! For every new fan that we get on our FaceBook page, we’ll give $1.00 to this very deserving family. Our goal is to reach 500 fans by February 14. We also want to raise awareness of this family and the rare disease that changed their lives. Please share Kayla’s story. It’s such a great cause.

Back in the 80’s, I went to Spring Branch High School in Houston, Texas. Most of my high school girlfriends and I had plans to go to college, followed by getting a great job, and a few years after that a walk down marriage lane which would probably lead to a child or two. That was our vision of “happily ever after”. We didn’t expect the tough times that might come, or the ups and downs that life lays at your feet. And none of us expected to have a child with a non-curable disease. But one of us did. 
My friend, Karen and her husband welcomed their second child, a sweet healthy baby girl in January 2003. They named her Kayla. A few years later she started to get very sick. By the time she was school age, she would come home with horrible splitting headaches, and have extreme vomiting episodes. One hospitalization followed by another and then another. The medical bills became an endless stack. Karen had to quit her job to take care of Kayla. Less than a year ago, she was finally given a diagnosis. Kayla has a rare genetic disease called Dysautonomia that is a central nervous system disease that causes the central nervous system to malfunction. Basically, anything that the central nervous system controls can be attacked at any time. Right now, Kayla’s main problem is that she gets extreme fluid pressure build up in her spinal column and brain. Every six to eight weeks Kayla has to have a lumbar puncture to drain spinal fluid and relieve the pressure that causes her to have migrain headaches, vomitting, epilepsy and permanent short term memory loss. Kayla’s dysautonomia has also attacked and destroyed her body’s ability to regulate its own temperature (called Thermal Dysregulation). This means that Kayla can’t be where it is hot or cold because her body does not have the ability to adapt. So essentially, she has to stay inside.

The only doctors that treat Dysautonomia are at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Kayla and her family live in Houston. They have to go to the Cleveland Clinic every 4 months for testing and care. Kayla’s monthly medication bills alone are over $3000. Insurance coverage is minimal. Right now, she and her mom are at the Cleveland Clinic. They are discussing brain surgery with a pediatric neurosurgeon that will help keep the pressure in her brain and spinal column more regulated. I just got off the phone with Karen. She sounded hopeful. She said, “They [meaning the doctors] can’t cure Kayla, but they can make her life less painful and better. She will have this for life. But at least there is hope now for her to have a better life.” 

Last night I looked at my own child as he slept peacefully and thought about what it would be like if he had an incurable illness like Kayla’s. I thought of the desperation, frustration, and fear that I would feel as a mother. I wondered how many times Kayla’s mom must have prayed for answers, and how many times she must have asked, “why my child”. I just couldn’t imagine. But now there is hope.

Our goal is raise $500.00 for Kayla and her family to help offset some of their bills. Here’s what you can do to help. Please pass Kayla’s story along, and ask your friends on FaceBook to like At the bottom of this page, you can click on “like” next to the FaceBook icon. Another way, you can like is by searching on FaceBook for "" Another suggestion would be to share this post on your FaceBook profile page. For every new fan that we get by February 14, we’ll donate $1.00 to this family. You can also become a fan of Kayla’s Fan page by searching for “Kayla Strong Benefit.”  What a simple and great way to give back!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What I've Learned... (Part 2)

We have been able to take paying customers at for two months now. In some ways, I feel like I should record this occasion like a mother with a newborn baby. In my mind, the conversation goes something like this... Our baby is eight weeks old. Yes! She is getting so big. No! I can't believe that we've had her for eight whole weeks. She is great blend of ideas from her very proud owners Holly and Carolanne. I wonder if Target or JC Penney's has a picture package for this occasion?

Anyway, I promised back on November 9 in "What I've Learned..." that I would continue to share with you the lessons that I 've picked up along this journey. They're in no particular order :-)

1. An online business is just like a brick and mortar business. You can't just simply flip on the "open for business" sign and hope to get customers. We live in a different age where people expect you to bring them information instead of them seeking it out. We've learned how valuable FaceBook (PLEASSSSE "like" us) and Twitter (BarkingWife) are to us. Holly and I have had to step outside of our comfort zone and learn to use social media as a marketing tool.With that being said, you can "like" us and "follow" us by scrolling down and clicking on the FaceBook and Twitter icons below. Thanks!

2. Everything cost more. Okay! I admit that I learned this lesson a long time ago. Launching was just the first step. Our wonderful account holders have shared information with us to help improve the site. We are so appreciative! However, those changes cost money. Some changes we have been able to make. Other changes are waiting. It's constantly a battle to balance cost vs. benefit.

3. Help comes from the strangest places. Out of nowhere, someone from the past will stumble upon and offer assistance. In some ways, this business has been like a big, crazy family reunion for us. In other ways, we have met people that we will start including in the big, crazy family reunions from now on. One of our partners, is the most amazing asset ever. We started out with him not quite getting our jokes. Now! He will at least give us a polite laugh.

4. Just like any mom can attest, I love my baby more now than I did when was born. I want everyone to love it just as much as I do. I am so proud to call it mine.

I promise to keep sharing my thoughts along this journey. Enjoy!


Monday, January 10, 2011

In the Closet

What’s a girl to do? Or rather, what are two stay-at-home Moms, who are working to start a business on a shoe string budget to do?  Carolanne and I had used up our budget that was ear marked for the professional voice over talents but still had a little less than half of the messages to record. It was time to get creative, ask for advice from the professionals, and put on yet another hat. We had to learn how to operate the most complex hand held recorder ever, beg our friends with awesome voices to volunteer to be our voice talent, serve them wine so get them loosened up to get out of their comfort zone and become actors, direct them in a recording session, and become the “BarkingWife Expert Advisors” ourselves. So we had the voices, the professional grade recorder, the wine, but NO recording studio. Well, the most sound proof and echo proof space that was available for free was, you guessed it, my master bedroom closet! Not exactly the swanky, glitzy recording studio of our dreams, but hey, it worked great. And the awesome red wine served in crystal glasses made it seem first class!

That’s one of the up sides of a little bitty small start-up budget. (And believe me, you have to find the up sides or you’ll get really down.) You get to become very creative in finding solutions to problems. And you get to have some fun laughs when you look back at where you have been and what it took to get to where you are now. 


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Goodbye Christmas! Hello Clean House!

Before I lost my mind!
Sunday was the day. I couldn't take it any longer. No more red. No more green. No more gold. No more angels. No more ornaments. No more of anything having to do with Christmas. I decided to reclaim my house. The toys that only stay in the playroom had invaded my family room, dining room and even my bedroom. I wanted my clean, clutter free house back!

Dr. Phil says that everyday you ask yourself just how fun you are to live with. Well, on Sunday, I was no fun to live with at all. I barked orders at everybody to PICK UP! I assigned the four-year-old the task of taking everything that resembles a toy upstairs. If not, it was getting thrown away! I put "Thomas the Train" on for the baby so the TV could babysit him (not something that I condone, but sometimes its bloody necessary!). I put my husband to work. He was in charge of taking down everything that required a step ladder to put up. I got a big black garbage bag and started throwing away the thousands of boxes that once held toys. Then, I moved on to the tree. Like a tornado, I took down the ornaments that had taken hours to hang up. Tubs were filled and wreaths placed in bags for next year. Garland that had been so carefully hung a month before was shoved into contractor bags.

Here's my smartest move yet. Okay! Take notes! Our attic access is in the garage. I moved my husbands car out of the garage and filled his parking spot with the Christmas treasures. Now, he has motivation to move the decorations to the attic if he wants his spot back in the garage. So far, no success yet. I'll keep you posted!

After I said goodbye to Christmas!
Ha! The sweet smell of success now fills my home instead of Christmas. It's like Christmas never happened. The toys are in their new spots. My house is back to its old self. I don't want to hear a Christmas Carol or see Santa for at least ten more months.

Then, just like a giddy school girl, I will lovingly get all my Christmas decorations out the attic. I will carefully hang them up or put them on the tree. I'll fret if the table is festive enough. I'll worry that the outdoor lights are fun yet tasteful. I will excitedly count down the days until Santa comes with the kids. But until then, I'll enjoy my clean house.


Saturday, January 1, 2011


HELLO NEW YEAR! I always love New Year’s Day. For some reason it makes me feel like the world is giving me a fresh start and great things are lined up and just waiting to happen all over again. I know it sounds idealistic, but I actually feel that way. And even though years ago on New Year’s day, when I cut the palm of my hand open and started that new year off getting twelve painful stitches in my hand and fingers, it didn’t kill the hope that still bubbles up in me.

(Oh, you want to know how I cut the palm of my hand years ago? I was getting the year off on a healthy note. I had started the morning with juicing fresh oranges and apples and was cleaning the juicer. I forgot to unplug it and accidentally hit the on switch. The palm of my left hand was pressing down on the prongs that held the juicing blade. Enough said. Let the past be the past.)

I don’t make a bunch of resolutions or write down my expectations for the new year on New Year’s day. I just take time to just imagine the great possibilities the new year might hold.  I wonder what awesome opportunities and ventures are coming to Even though we went through our fair share of ups and downs and set-backs, we also had plenty of things happen at just the right time, proving to us the incredible synchronicity of the universe. I know it sounds cliché, but truly as one door shut, another door would open for BarkingWife. And when we look back on the year, the events that happened that seemed like daunting problems when they happened, we now can see how they forced us to make changes, or take another path, that actually made our business stronger, better, and more fun.

I will set some goals for the year (just not today). There will be business goals for BarkingWife. And there will be the perpetual goals of eating healthier and exercising more.  But as the years keep passing quicker and my birthdays keep dog piling on top of each other, my perspective of life and what is really important becomes clearer. This year, year 2011, is an excellent year to add in a goal of S L O W I N G  D O W N(or at least create some slow down pockets during your day) enough to consciously notice and enjoy and appreciate life, your children, your spouse, nature, the sunset, the moon as it goes through its changes. My mother used to always tell me that we teach what we need to learn the most. So, adding in a Slow Down goal is something I must really need to learn. I’m sure my mother would agree!

So Happy New Year everyone! Here’s to 2011 and all the great and wonderful things headed to you and to us!