Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Busy Week - All New Listings!

New Listings in my Etsy Shop!

I've been a very busy bee lately and I have a ton of new pieces in my shop this week!

Do you see something you love? Take a moment to "favorite" it on Etsy and tell me what you think!

Do you have a suggestion or idea? Your name could be featured on my next item! Just submit your idea below and I'll add it to the design board!

© 2013 Little Bean. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

In Case You Missed It!

Last week, I was interviewed by Sandra Sawyer, Esq at Networking at Its Finest! We had a fantastic chat about what it's like to start a business as a military spouse and how important support networks are to the success of that business.

Operation: Create Your Own Path by MSBA and Red, White & Blue Pages is still going strong with daily interviews and advice for small business! If you missed the blog post on Networking at Its Finest, you can listen to the audio file here!

Audio File © Networking at Its Finest with Sandra Sawyer, Esq

Jenny Theuerkauf, is a stay at home wife and mother, a native of California and now resident of Wisconsin. Jenny is the founder of Little Bean, a new and challenging creative endeavor. The boutique shares a name with Jenny’s daughter, who – in true “like mother, like daughter” fashion – is already using her creativity to help select fabric and notions for use in future creations.

Little Bean offers hair accessories, jewelry, and other items that draw on the glamour of the ‘20s, ‘30s, and ‘40s, the youthful energy of the ‘50s, and the bold spirit of the ‘60s. Jenny updates these classic styles to suit today’s modern, fashionable customer, and Jenny’s designs make Little Bean “a sophisticated boutique for dames of all ages.”

© Little Bean. All rights reserved.

Friday, July 19, 2013

OPERATION: Create Your Own Path

As military spouses, we often face unique challenges and one of those challenges concerns our careers: How do we establish our own careers with steady second income to support our families while the military moves us all over the globe?

We have all been there, "permanent" isn't really in our vocabulary anymore and our résumés are probably a little spotty or maybe include a huge gap or three. That doesn't have to stop you from pursuing your own career on your own terms and it doesn't have to prevent you from being successful. Home based businesses are just one of the ways military spouses have conquered that challenge!

As part of OPERATION: Create Your Own Path by Red, White & Blue Pages and Military Spouse Business Association, I spoke with Michelle SchrockIndependent Scentsy Family SuperStar Director, about her decision to start her own business while living as a military spouse:

Michelle Schrock is a vivacious and goofy but no-nonsense mother of two; she is the quintessential military spouse and very dedicated to her United States Marine Corps husband, their family and her Scentsy business. She is the ideal entrepreneur for the Scentsy line of wickless candles and it's very clear within minutes of speaking to her that she really stands behind her business and its products.

When asked why she decided to go into business for herself, she replied quite frankly, "...I like to do things my own way.  In my professional life before this I was fired 6 times in a 9 year period.  I don’t like to be told how to do things.  I much prefer to be given and objective and left to my own devices to get it completed.  Bosses don’t like that, [but] micromanagement crushes inspiration."

Four years ago, she was a stay-at-home mom while her family was stationed in Okinawa, Japan. "My life was cooking, cleaning, the gym, toddlers, and more diapers than should be legal. I had two small children, a constantly absent husband, and a life that felt really small. I knew I needed to do something more, that I had more to offer, but had no clue what and how."

From there, she found Scentsy, a direct sales company that offers its consultants a flexible business model that can include one, two or all of its incorporated brands while simultaneously building a thriving sales team. "I chose to join this company because to me it made logical sense to me. The start up cost was low. It was an affordable renewable product that people loved and I would buy myself. No one I knew had ever heard of it and the company was only 5 years old."
She feels that one of the things that has helped her most in this business model to be a "subject matter expert." "
I need to know the how, what, and why behind everything so that I can effectively and honestly share that with my customers. I also need to understand thoroughly so that I can teach my team better ways to share our products to develop their businesses."

The key to her success, though, is having a fantastic mentor who brought her into the Scentsy family. "I was very fortunate to join the company under an amazing woman, Karen Fettes. From day one she understood me and completely 'got' how my mind works…and trust me, there is nothing more empowering than feeling 'gotten.' I have been inspired by her accomplishments and my own. Having a strong mentor has been the number one key to my success. She builds me up, she reigns me in, she challenges me to grow, and she has taught me how to own who I am and what I have to offer."

Her best advice for others starting out is about branding: "Branding yourself is key. My business is not what I do, it is who I am. Start branding and sharing immediately, especially when you are new, because your enthusiasm is contagious and it will never be at a higher point than when you are just starting out." 

She has a great plan for implementing her own advice: "I introduce myself to people and let them know I am a USMC wife, mother of two, and I run a candle business out of my home. Then they start asking me questions. I also tell people that I am new here and I own my own candle business and ask if they would mind helping me get my name out by sharing my catalog. [Also], donations; I love to give product away to help others. [The Organization] makes money and I get my product and name in front of a new customer."

While any PCS1 spurs challenges on its own, spouses stationed overseas face even greater challenges like Michelle did when she first started. "They run into a lot of problems doing business on base, especially with the post office ... The regulations are not clear overall, nor [are they] easy to find, and [they] vary from post office to post office at the whim of the current reigning postmaster"  She calls for much-needed additional support for entrepreneurial spouses stationed overseas, "I would like to see clear and beneficial communication regarding operating a home business OCONUS2, [communication] that specifically outlines the rules of what NOT to do as clearly as what we CAN do. This [would ideally be] a single sheet document that could easily be included in the 'Welcome Aboard' brief that is mandatory when you arrive."

Michelle is part of a growing trend of spouses who have decided to make their mark and carve out their careers on their own terms. They've not only overcome the challenges of military life, but they've used those challenges to establish a unique market and a flexible business model. Want to create your own path, but don't know where to start? Comment below, contact Michelle or find a mentor at your base or post and start asking questions. Be sure to visit 
Red, White & Blue Pages and Military Spouse Business Association for resources specifically designed for military spouses.

Thank you, Michelle, for sharing your experience with us! Be sure to check out tomorrow's blog featuring Lareece Long of Life Within, interviewed by Heather Wagner at Everyday Patriotism!

Acronym Translations: 1. PCS - Permanent Change of Station, moving; 2. OCONUS - Outside the continental United States

Links & Resources:

© 2013 Little Bean. All rights reserved. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Telling My Daughter She's Fat

© Dorothy Dean

Projects like "Bodies" by Dorothy Dean have given me the perspective I need to embrace the stretch marks and pouch of my post-partum body. Projects like this give us all a raw look at what it's like to be human in true human form without airbrushing, at what the average tummy really looks like and help us face the reality of the unfair standards we hold ourselves against. Thanks to images like this, I now embrace and respect my motherhood badges of honor and, for once, I feel comfortable in my own skin. Motherhood has changed my body forever and I'm not only okay with that, I'm proud of it. Somehow, though, that still doesn't translate to entirely loving myself.

Something needs to change. I have struggled with weight and self-criticism my entire life, I remember calling myself fat as early as 8 years old. I know I learned my inner voice from those around me. I know my body image was perpetuated by adults who commented on my "chunkiness" or remarked, "Now you're too skinny" when I lost weight. My body image has been such a constant struggle, that it has somehow formed part of my identity. Shaming myself comes just as easily and automatically as looking in the mirror before I leave the house.

Body image, inner voice, body shaming, losing weight, weight, issues, woman
Not a good way to treat yourself
I catch myself constantly remarking on how fat I look, or that I'm a cow or how terrible my clothes look on me right now. I find myself harshly critiquing every video or photo of myself. The things I tell myself in my own head are far worse than what I utter out loud or what I could post here; I am so harsh and cruel to myself that if I said these things to any other woman I'm sure she'd break down in torrential tears.

Today, I weigh in at 227 lbs, which is obese by any standard. More than just the number, I don't have the energy I need and I can feel the toll it's taking on my bones, my health and my emotions. It's not a healthy body weight for me, physically or emotionally and almost anyone would agree that the healthy choice is to lose the weight through lifestyle changes that will be permanent.

I'm once again working on losing weight; 13 months post partum and I'm about half way back to pre-baby weight and size, but I plan on taking it a little further to get back to my comfortable weight of 165 lbs. At 5'6" with a large bone structure, 165 looks pretty good on me and I still feel like "me" with all my curves. I want to be healthy and I am taking the steps to achieve that goal. That doesn't mean I have to shame myself about it. I can work on my health while still viewing my body in a positive light, right? 

Especially now that Little Bean is mimicking everything I do and say, I have grown more conscious of how I treat myself and talk about myself around her. I now have to consciously work to reverse that horribly critical voice in my head so Little Bean doesn't pick up the same voice in her head. I want my daughter to grow up healthy, with a love for physical activity and a lifestyle that keeps her healthy and leads to enjoyed longevity, but I don't want her to feel shame and disdain for her own body as motivation to achieve that.
This should never turn into...

The final turning point came this morning, when I realized that every single morning, Little Bean has been stepping on the scale (like I do), she even gets upset when we skip that step. No 13 month old should be habitually stepping on the scale like that (sure, she doesn't know she's checking her weight, but the habit is there). It doesn't help that health professionals, family, friends and perfect strangers have frequently commented on her low weight her entire life, she has been repeatedly weighed and had her weight tied to praise on many occasions. She's in 
the 3rd percentile for height and weight, which is 
actually normal for babies in our family.

I don't want my daughter to grow up with the same body image issues I have nor do I want her to grow up with issues about being too small; I don't want her to have body image issues at all. I don't want her to have to be convinced she looks great by multiple people (I have suffered from slight body dysmorphia in the past and it took therapy and being faced with picture after picture to convince me that I wasn't the fat cow I saw in the mirror). I certainly don't want her to seek validation in others for her self worth. I am guilty of all of those and so 
much more; it's reasonable to assume that if I continue 
my behavior, she will learn it. 

Lesson Learned
So the change? Telling myself "Good morning, beautiful!" the same way I greet her (which alternates between "beautiful," "smarty," "adventurer," and several other positive traits she already embodies). If I want my daughter to see herself the way I see her, I'm going to have to start casting myself in the same light. My daughter will take her cues from me and I better make sure they're positive ones. Also, the scale is going under the sink for weekly weigh-ins, solely to mark my progress instead of daily weight-shaming.

My daughter deserves better and I have to give myself better in order to give her what she deserves.

© 2013 Little Bean. All rights reserved. This material may not be reproduced, displayed, modified or distributed without the express prior written permission of the copyright holder. For permission, contact

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mom & Tot Double-Dating

I'm happily married and have a 13 month old darling daughter, so why does it feel like I'm dating again? Well, because I just moved back to a new area and I can count the number of local, non-related people I know on exactly 3 fingers. One has kids but lives in BFE, the other two haven't yet spawned (not with each other). Note: I'm not saying we can't hang out with my non-spawning friends, it's just their lives don't usually mesh well with naptimes, toddler fits, and the like and I still have to give Little Bean 100% of my attention since she doesn't have a playmate, which leaves very little time and attention for the person visiting if he/she is non-spawning. So non-spawners: great for ladies night out, not so great for toddler play dates.

mommy wars
...and you're not one of them!
The mommy groups in Madison seem especially hostile to new blood and seem to have ridiculous and convoluted requirements for joining. One group requires you to live on the third block of the fifth street west of the belt-line and another wants you to confirm that you're requesting to be added, which calendar month you would like to see, what your blood type is, and where you live or plan to live and full rights to your first born's first born before even allowing you to try out an event before you join. I understand personal security, these are our children we're talking about, but come on! (Yes, I'm exaggerating just a bit, but over half of what I stated are true requirements). What ever happened to a casual coffee date with local moms and their tots? What ever happened to seeing a new mom move into the neighborhood and inviting her over for coffee? Or does that only happen in the military and not out here in civilian life?

Super Mom
Ta da! I'm a genius!
So, I had an idea, I'll just invite my own awesome group over for coffee and play time to give us all some rest from the onslaught of toddler demands and allow ourselves some recharge time so we can better appreciate the onslaught of toddler awesomeness that I'm sure a lot of us are using to survive the demands (poorly surviving, I might add).

The problem? Where do I find the moms? Do I pick them up at the grocery store? The toy store? The splash pad? Do I post an online "MwT (Mom with Tot) seeking MwT" ad? (Yeah, that last one doesn't sound creepy at all).

I ran into a mom with a toddler the same age as Little Bean while shopping at Tar-jay; her toddler toddled right up and hugged me while my own Little Bean decided she didn't want to share me. Our kids were playing very nicely until my husband called me away to help with an issue at the register. Did I get the mom's name and number? No, and I'm still kicking myself. It feels like that awkward "Oh-why-did-I-chicken-out-and-not-get-the-hottie's-number" after effect from dating all over again. Maybe it will work out the same way and I'll only kick myself until the next mom and tot come along?

© 2013 Little Bean. All rights reserved. This material may not be reproduced, displayed, modified or distributed without the express prior written permission of the copyright holder. For permission, contact