Monday, October 10, 2016

Day 10: It's Getting Cold Outside

The change in weather combined with all the talk about the cinch saks gave the girls an idea.

Homelessness is a considerable problem where live. Every time we go to the grocery store, you can be certain there will be people asking for help at every parking lot exit. I think it's because my girls grew up in a small town and weren't used to witnessing homelessness this frequently, it bothers them very much.

Add that to the fact that it's getting cold outside and the girls wanted to do something to help.

Enter our first "Ripple Project."

Quin came up with this logo for our project

This year, the girls gave our homeschool the name. "St. Teresa's Academy" in honor of St. Teresa of Calcutta ( Mother Teresa's title after being canonized a saint).

The quote of St. Teresa's they selected to guide our school is "I alone cannot change the world but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples."

Ripple Projects will be our attempt to be a bit more consistent with our charity work. I'm hoping it makes the kids realize that they can truly have an important impact on our community and it's their responsibility to do so.

So, back to the project.

Being that they felt the Cinch Saks were made very well, are quite weather resistant and are easy to transport, they hatched the idea of filling them up with supplies and distributing them to the homeless.

Our goal is 10.

Talking about what kind of products would be helpful got the girls thinking about what life must really be like for those on the street. They ended up choosing items that addressed: hygiene, health, food, pets & comfort and came up with a list. We've seen a similar project where folks suggest items to buy at the Dollar Tree. But our budget is tight so we looked online and then headed to Costco to see if we could buy things in bulk cheaper.

We walked Costco, photographing the items on their list and taking note of price & quantities. Then it was home for all that math by hand. Turns out, we found many items cheaper at Costco than Dollar Tree.

We'll also be using "super couponing" to get some of the supplies for next to nothing.

The plan is this: each bag costs $20. Our commission on the $20 is $5. We will use that commission money to purchase supplies. Additionally, because we're the party hostess, we'll use that free product credit for our $200 party to also add to the till to buy supplies.

After announcing it on my private facebook page, we immediately got a donation of 20 handknit hats for the bags from a lovely friend here in Oregon! How wonderful!

A bit later, a message from another friend offering some canned food to include in the saks. Amazing!

Finally, we stopped at Joann's to find fleece on sale for $2.99/yd plus we had a coupon. We bought a few yards of camo fleece that the girls will sew into scarves.

So to date, we have handknit hats, warm fleece scarves and some canned food.

I hadn't thought about the potential "ripples" our project might cause in others. People are so incredibly generous. In a time when we have such awful headlines in the news with this election, it's nice for the girls to see this positive side of humanity up close.

We're still hopeful to get 10 of the cinch saks purchased as donation to the project but we realize that $20 may be more than some folks can or would like to contribute. Therefore, we are happy to take any donation toward the cinch saks. It can be paypaled to our project at mylifewithpurls at

If you'd like to sponsor a complete Comfort Sak at $20, here's a link to the Thirty One website. We thought the camo color would be perfect.

The skies the limit on this project! Our goal is 10 but wouldn't it be incredible if we could do 20 or more?!

We're still having fun with this Toteschooling Project. If you want to join us for the special $1 consultant fee that ends in just a few days, here's a link.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Day 9: Presentations with fun not fear

One of the primary reasons I came up with this idea was to encourage my quiet girl to relax and learn that public speaking can be fun.

Up until now, we've focused on math skills (calculating percentages for donations, etc); more thoughtful writing (vision statements) and even social issues (which causes they wanted to support). 

But now it was time to dig into the pile of bags from the consultant kit and get to presentations.

I was running late making dinner so I thought I'd throw the idea out there and see if the girls would be interested. They were.

We talked about how a company like Thirty-One's success is entirely based on communications. They are relying on the consultants to communicate in person and online to sell the product. Therefore, they've hired talented professionals to put together their print and online media in the most compelling, enticing manner possible.

Out of the consultant kit, I chose the Cinch Sac. I chose it for a couple of reasons because: 1. I thought it was one of the more kid-friendly products and 2. I thought it seemed overpriced and not like such a great item from my experience with cinch sacs put out by other companies.I thought this might give them more of a challenge.

Well first off, I opened the packaging and quickly discovered this wasn't close to similar bags I've seen or the kids have gotten for free as promotions at the State Fair, etc. This is actually a really nice bag with a lot of carefully considered finishes that I bet will keep it lasting for a longtime.

Then I gave the bag to the kids. I told them to get a piece of scrap paper and their thesaurus. Their task was to brainstorm, individually, all the attributes of the bag and some good suggested uses to be used as the basis for a 3 minute presentation that I would film. I encouraged them to look up new and better adjectives and to consider their audience. Were they talking to the moms who would do the buying or the kids who would put it on a wishlist?

Immediately, they began taking turns carefully investigating the bag's features and then scribbling down notes. See the photo above. They were laughing, hiding their ideas from each other and filling their pages with writing - even the 7 year old. Getting the 7 year old to participate was great because she tends to be a perfectionist and if she can't write the entire page without a spelling error, she's not interested. But somehow, she got caught up in the fun and was writing away.

So the plan is that sometime this weekend we will film their first "draft" of their presentation. The older two need to give me their presentations written up also.

Then they'll watch their own. After, I'll show them some of the videos the home office provides for consultants and ask them to compare and contrast. What did they communicate well? What could use improvement? How was their delivery? Did they effectively reach their target audience?

Using their self-critique, they'll get a chance for changes and a second filming. 

My hope is that there is a vast improvement between each one's first and second draft, that they'll feel a little less self-conscious with an item to focus on and they'll ask to do more. 

Could we accomplish this without the actual bags? Of course. We could go to the pantry and pick out any product and pretend to sell it. However, we wouldn't necessarily have the professional marketing material to compare and contrast. You could look at a commercial but that's sort of the final product. What we have access to is more of the how & why to present the item as deemed by the company. And then there's the added fun of raising money for the non-profits they chose and the family goal (which still hasn't been determined).

I'll let you know how it goes. 

I'm so pleased that this project brings out laughter with them. The bad news is that they've made me promise not to post their videos here or on fb. Maybe if they come out really well, the girls will change their minds. 

Oh hey - great news! Thirty-One is running a special for the first two weeks of October. You can now join as a consultant for just $1. With this option, you don't get the kit of goods but you can quickly earn some product with your first sales. 

The way Thirty-One works you pay a $14.50 per month fee to access your online website. But you could sign up for the $1, pay the first $14.50 and then cancel before the second month kicked in if you just wanted to try it for a little bit and see if it's worth it. 

Or who knows, you might get hooked and love to earn the 25% commissions for some extra holiday cash. Plus, you also might just sign-up to get the discount for your own holiday shopping. Send me an email if you have any questions: mylifewithpurls at

Here is a link about the $1 sign-up. We sure would appreciate you signing up under me, Becky Smith, to support Project Toteschooling. 

Oh - if you're interested in the Cinch Sac above, here's a link. They are $20 each and really are nice - grommets at the openings where the cord goes through; the cord is squishy and much softer than that hard cord some on the market have and there's a huge zipper compartment on the front. The fabric is multiple thicknesses with the pocket and really easy to wipe clean. This isn't just a kid's bag by any means. 

One Month in

Project Toteschooling is 1 month down, 9 to go.

As I expected, it was a slower start than the girls thought but, still it was a start.

I don't think there's anything wrong with learning things don't always come easy and perseverance is important. 

While the fundraising aspect might have been slow, the learning and motivation to learn was far off the charts of my expectations. 

From studying non-profits and therefore becoming aware of the different types of need in our world to learning & crafting their own mission & vision statements, this was fun and meaningful work.

I'm really happy I followed my crazy idea and went for it.

There's still today to order to get in on our fundraising efforts for our September npo that supports veterans. 

If you'd like to, here's a link

Or, if you want to get in on the fun, Thirty One is offering a kit-free joining special of $1 for two weeks starting tomorrow- October 1st!

You can use it to get the 25% product discount for some holiday shopping; to earn some extra money by having a party or 2 or as homeschool curriculum like we are. 

Here's a link to find out about the consultant special. If you prefer, you can still sign on with the purchase of the consultant kit for $99. The site will have the info about the $1 special starting tomorrow, Saturday, Oct. 1st

So, here's how our first month went:

Hey, it's $25.63 more than we donated last month 😀