Lost Valley

We leave ND next week.

I can’t believe it happened so fast, even though we knew it would.

This last trip to Lost Valley was the last camping trip we’d take to the most beautiful spot in Minnesota. It’s been a frequent stop with my in-laws, and it’s literally heaven on Earth.

It’s a place the kids can play right on the water. A place where the owner’s know you by name. Where you can hang out and not have a care in the world. Even though it always rains when we go, we always get a few beautiful few days. This time was no different, the sunsets are never beaten, and the loons always sing to you.

I sit. I read. I take in the quite. We talk. We laugh. This time, I cried. We eat tacos in a bag and shit sausage (inside joke hehe). It’s a place where you can be unbusy and not feel bad about it. We will get gorgeous sunsets in Arizona. Grandma and Grandpa will see us in just a few short months. But there’s nothing like that clear MN air. There’s nothing like that small ND feel.

If I could raise my kids on that lake, I would. If I could stop time and view every lake sunset, I would. If…..

Life is full of if’s. This time around, the timing was probably off for our trip. We should have been worrying about packing and leaving and Travs’ job. But we just went, we just sat quietly. We didn’t really have a care in the world. We can worry about where we are going to live in AZ another time. We can work later. I can ship LLR a few days late.

What really matters is that my kids ran off the dock and played in the sand and soaked up the sun. Yeah, they whined, but for the most part, they enjoyed their last camping trip at Lost Valley. And we will miss it. We will miss it terribly.

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Pre-K Graduation

I’m going to admit, before I had kids I was one of those parents that was like,

“Yay, your kid “graduated” pre-k….we all don’t need to hear about it”.

But then I had my own kids.

Audrie never went to Preschool, we were moving around when she was that age, and she’s an August baby, so met the cut-off for Kindergarten. But Lincoln; Lincoln needed Pre-K. Although I was a SAHM with him, we didn’t do much “schooling”. I didn’t make him write his name or do school, we PLAYED. I’m thanking God every day for his teachers at Emerado Elementary. They have been nothing short of amazing with Lincoln.

I remember when we were all a little worried he wouldn’t get his name down this year. He has a tough one, his whole name is pretty long. And that darn silent “L”. Gets him every time. But I’ve seen a boy grow up this year. He plays better with other kids, he sings songs and tells me everything he’s learned. And man, was he excited to graduate today.

And I only cried a little. Just a tear or two.

Next year, I’ll get to see him graduate Kindergarten. And then in 13 short years, I’ll watch him walk across the stage for HS graduation. I’m not looking forward to that, because it’s going to go by so, so fast. But as he sits at my feet while I type, telling me the difference between “big”, “medium” and “small”, I’m just going to cherish his sweet voice, his little hand in mine.

He may not want to kiss me anymore, but he’s still my baby. Although he likes to be called “sushi” now ๐Ÿ™‚

Balancing….Life

Most of you know I’m a LuLaRoe Retailer.

Two months ago, I started on this quest to sell a certain number of pieces every month so I could get a “prize”. For most retailers, this goal is an easy one. For me, not so much. For two months I KILLED myself. I went live every night, I pushed every.single.day. I don’t have a ton of people in my Facebook Group, and I would feel guilty when the same handful would help me reach my goal; like, why can’t the other 600 people in this group see me? Am I really that awful? I know I don’t have a ton of inventory but darn.

I feel even more guilty NOW. I’m not going to lie, I had a total mental breakdown at the end of April. Hubby is retiring from the military, we are moving, I was exhausted. I couldn’t clean the house and take care of the kids and make 900 outfits and answer 900 questions and have people bombard me every day with hows and whats and whys and OMG my head just…..exploded.

I had to step back. At first I thought I was going to quit, then I decided to downsize. I don’t want to quit. I’ve made an amazing “family” outside of my own. Women I can turn to who love me and who I love back. Women who push me and drive me nuts but who I wouldn’t trade for the world. This group of women have become an outlet for me in an otherwise “what’s my purpose?” life.

I BELIEVE my purpose, right now, at this season in my life, is to be a LLR retailer.

BUT

I also believe my purpose is to be a mother and a wife. And those two things will ALWAYS come first.

So, I’m not going live every night anymore. I’m pushing during the day, when my kids are at school. I still want that goal for my group. But life has to be a balance; at least mine does, or {insert another mental breakdown here.}

I don’t want to let my ladies down, but I also don’t want to let my kids/hubby down. Do I want to sell clothing and make women feel beautiful? Absolutely, I LOVE doing that, it’s something I never thought I’d be doing, but I am and it brings me a ton of joy. But I also want to be a mom and a wife. I also want to have a tidy house (not clean clean….have you met Lincoln and Audrie??) I want to move to a new state without being completely overwhelmed with “what if I don’t sell anything for a week or two??”

I don’t have assistants. My husband doesn’t to help, it’s not his bag. I know I have customers who are more than willing to help me. And while I appreciate that so, so much, this is my baby. And I’d like to be able to raise it the way that I see fit.

I enjoy going live, I enjoy making outfits. I enjoy answering questions and helping women find their sizes. But I also enjoy watching Lincoln ramp after school. I enjoy helping Audrie make her craft of the day. I can be BOTH retailer and mother.

But for me, the balance will always shift to mother and wife. If that means I don’t reach my goal because I would rather be outside playing with my kids instead of finding a new way to sell or reaching new people, then so be it.

I don’t want to feel like I let my customers down.

But you better believe I wouldn’t be able to handle it if I let my kids, my husband, and myself down.

We all balance life in different ways. “Busy” for one is “bored” for another.

I will sell LLR until I can’t anymore. I may make it “bigger” one day, I may not. But as long as my ladies are around, and as long as I need LLR (I mean, face it, I still buy A LOT of it), I’m staying around.

Just don’t expect me to burn myself out. You won’t see me on a live sale crying my eyes out because I’m exhausted and sad. I don’t need the pity train anymore. I need the “she’s strong as hell and look at her go, balancing life like a champ” train.

And I need my ladies to get on it with me.

Fear of Missing Out

A few weeks ago, Travis walked into the house after work and asked me to take a picture with him and the kids because it was the last day he would arm up and wear his badge at work.

It really hit me that day. We are moving on to the next phase of our life. And I’m scared shitless.

And I kinda wish he would have told me sooner, so I would have had time to do my hair and set up the tripod. But alas, Audrie took our picture. ๐Ÿ™‚

Now, he’s off interviewing for a job, and I’m nervous as hell.

Military life is funny. You always have a group of people around you. These people become your family, not just your friends. They become your tribe. Need help with your kids? Done. Need a person to vent to? Done. Need someone to go get your nails done with? Done. Need a dog sitter? Done.

Done, done, done. I’ve been all these things, and I’ve asked for all these things. And not once was anything owed to me nor did I owe anything back. It’s just the way of life. It’s a blessing. And then one day, that blessing will be gone. You’ll be forced back into the “real world”. You won’t really have that safety net anymore.

And then there’s the fear of going back to work. Not just for Travis, but for me. Now, I own my own businesses, and I can take them anywhere with me. But starting over in a new town, a new STATE?! I may fall flat on my face. It may not work out. And that scares me most of all, because I want to see my kids grow up. I want to take them to school, pick them up, make them dinner, take them to sports. And I don’t want to do it while being stressed to the max. If you know me, you know I don’t do well with stress. I completely shut down. Busy I can handle, but stress? Nope.

I’m struggling with what to do. Do I ask to stay home, continue my businesses, and hope he won’t resent me in the future for not making as much money as I should? Or using my degrees and my own military experience? Or do I just get a job, put my babies in child care before and after school, and just see them for a few hours a day? I KNOW many, many moms do this, and I admire them for it.

Hell, I never wanted to be a SAHM. But now that I’ve done it for so long, I just want to keep doing it. At least until the kids can stay at home by themselves. But, then will I be too old to go back to the work force? Will someone want to even hire a 40-something year old with some self-employed business experience and a measly 8 year military career? How do I get over the FOMO (fear of missing out)?

Fear of missing out on my kids, who are my real joy (even if they are so frustrating!), and fear of missing out on a career outside the home. I’m so conflicted, and frankly, sad, about it.

My identity, for the past 6 years, has been wrapped around my kids, photography, and now LuLaRoe. I can drop ANYTHING in my day, and be there for my kids. How do I give that up, and should I? I don’t remember my mother being there during my younger years, it was always my grandma. And then when we were older, I really only ever saw her after 6PM. She didn’t come to very many of our sports activities, unless it was on the weekend. I want my kids to remember me! I don’t want to have to ask for vacation time, I want to be able to go wherever the wind takes us, and I don’t want to wait until we are both retired. I want my kids to go, too. We never did things like that growing up. I KNOW this is a pipe dream. Who wouldn’t want to be able to do this? Wouldn’t that just be the perfect world?

Now taking any and all advice ๐Ÿ™‚

12 Years

12 years.

2 kids.

4 dogs.

7 homes.

4 bases.

3 deployments

I don’t even know how many TDY’s

It’s been a crazy 12 years. Every wedding anniversary sneaks up on us, it just all goes by in a blink of an eye. We just hung out as a family yesterday; we went to lunch, the park, and then on a hike that was an absolute epic fail.

Audrie didn’t want to, she didn’t wear the right clothing and her “knees hurt”.

Lincoln was hot.

We ended up going for an hour, and when we crested the last “hill” (let’s be real, we are in North Dakota), I looked down and saw my back car door hanging wide open. Like, can my kids just shut a door!? (no, no they cannot). Thankfully I had thought to lock my wallet in the glove compartment!

Yesterday was also the first time I’ve used my camera since January. It was a hard winter here, so I didn’t take photographs. It was toooooooooo cold. I forgot what it was like to have it in my hands. It made me sad, because I know I probably won’t do it professionally anymore. But it also made me super happy, because I can still capture the photos that matter most: my family. I got Audrie’s scorn, Lincoln’s silliness. Travis being a good daddy and “showering” his kids with water so they didn’t DIIIIIIEEEEEEE (“mom, we are DYYYYINNNNGGG”). Only downside—we never get pictures of me!

After our “hike”, we came home, I napped, and then read on the porch for FOUR hours. I didn’t work. I didn’t do anything but feed my soul. It felt so amazing, I intend to never work a Sunday ever again. I need a “me” day. A “family first” day. Don’t we all?

Ended the night playing Trouble with Lincoln.

Currently thinking of throwing out all board games. #kiddoesnotliketolose.

Saying Goodbye

This post has been in the works for a while now, I just didn’t want to write it.

I’m saying goodbye to Katie Jean Photography.

Don’t get me wrong, I love taking photos and it was a huge passion of mine. However, I have too many other things going on. LuLaRoe takes up a majority of my time, my kids and husband the rest. Plus, we are moving soon, and I just don’t want to start two businesses over in another State.

So I had to let one go. It was a super hard decision, let me tell you. And don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to be behind that camera, just in a different capacity. Instead of capturing your memories, I’m going to be capturing my own. I’ve already closed down my other website and my Facebook page.

Stay tuned though, I’ll still be blogging, and this domain name might change! I hope now that I’ve cut some things from my life that I’ll have more time to sit and read, sit and write, or sit and watch my children play.

To the future.

And thank you.

Katie Guthmiller

Binford, ND

Today I ran away. I ran from responsibility, from kids saying “mom” 50 times before 9AM. I ran from my computer, from my home.

Why?

Because, holy crap, I was going to explode. I’m home alone 90% of the time now, and when I am I’m working and cleaning and getting ready for dinner. I’m constantly making lists of things that need to get done and things that need to get picked up. I’m marking days off in the calendar for days off school, doing massive loads of laundry, sweeping away crumbs from the floor at least 10 times a day. And I was over it. I needed to escape.

So I did one of my favorite things; I went exploring. I found an amazing abandoned house, and ran to a small town called Binford, ND. I pulled in, not expecting much. I mean, it’s a town of around 187 people. I normally just take photos of things that catch my eye and get back on the road, but today I decided to go outside my comfort zone and walk into the bar.

I was a little embarrassed to be alone, but that quickly eased when I asked for a Coors (there’s not tap beer here, “big city” girl) and sat at the bar. I started talking to the bartender who asked about my camera, and a cute little older gentleman. I told them that I like to explore small towns in my free time, find things that not very many see or experience. They thought it was pretty cool. I thought they were pretty cool. No one had their cell phones out, and although it was only noon there were a handful of people there. I got some looks, but thankfully no one was unfriendly! I played some pull-tabs (a staple in a small bar in ND), had another beer, talked small towns I should visit next with the other patrons, and left. I tried to leave the bartender a $5 tip and she refused me! She said it was too much for getting me “two beers”.

On the way home I blasted my music, sang at the top of my lungs and rushed home to my babies.

Going away like this, for a few hours, exploring places that I normally would never step into, that’s “my church”. That’s my “break” and how I get my sanity back. Had I had my book (can’t believe I forgot my book!) I probably would have stayed and checked out the Binford Cafe! I’d love to take my kids and hubby there one day, I overheard someone say they loved the bacon, and, well, BACON.

I’d also like to head back because I couldn’t get down some of the roads and the bartender said they had THREE churches there, and I’m a sucker for churches. I’d love to see them, small towns have the best churches. I’d also like to head back before we leave because she said the mural on the side of the building wasn’t complete, they keep adding to it.

Iโ€™d rather regret the things Iโ€™ve done than regret the things I havenโ€™t done.

โ€“ Lucille Ball