2016 in Review.

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“Let your days teach and transform you. Let them leave you differently than they found you.” – unknown.

This past year consisted of daily learning experiences, intertwined with blessings.

In January, Ryan went full-time self employed with Backcountry Woodworking. He built some amazing pieces for his clientele, and picked up work from folks like Glacier Highline (the Aerial Adventure Park), Proof Research, Kalispell Brewing, EnVouge Salon, Walleyes Unlimited of Montana, Lake McDonald Lodge, Swift Current Café, Rising Sun Motor Inn, and custom work for local families. You can view most of his work by clicking HERE.

I also hired a full-time seamstress in January, to help take the workload off Alpine Baby Co.‘s production. Heather Thompson has been a complete blessing to not only my business, but my family. She’s got a heart of gold, work ethic of a Viking, and a gentle, humble nature. When I’m with her, she inspires me to be a better person. A wonderful mother of FIVE, and the best homesteader I’ve ever known. Truly thankful to call Heather a true friend, and just honestly grateful I get to work with her in creating goods for ABco.

In January I also started Red Creek Essentials, a community of like-minded women committed to using Young Living oils with a hint of minimalism + organic lifestyle. It grew faster than I anticipated, and I’m thankful for that.

February came slow, as normal February’s around this time of year do. We planned a mid-week trip with the family to Ainsworth Hot Springs up in Canada, and oh man was it fun. They  have real hot spring caves to swim in where the water hits 105 °, nice and toasty. My sister came along to help us with the kids, and so Ry and I could really have a “date” night. We spent those three days getting literally lost in the Canadian Mountains, and visiting Nelson, BC.

In late February shit hit the fan when we discovered immediate family (who worked very part time for me all of 2015 + live literally right next door to us) had decided to start their own Organic children’s clothing line, including leggings, and had tried to keep it secret from Ryan and I. Had this person not worked for me, she wouldn’t have known how to even begin creating fabric + sewing with organics + operating a business. Let’s just say it didn’t end well, and we haven’t talked since.

Some would say it’s sad we haven’t talked to them in nearly a year, because they’re “family”- however, clearly our family didn’t matter. Not to mention… you don’t realize how toxic some people are until you’re out of their circle. Most of the chatter around family bonfires was local gossip, instead of dreams and aspirations. Ryan and I have removed friends from our lives because they were a negative influence… and just because they’re family, doesn’t mean you have to put up with stuff that doesn’t align with your life. Hence the distance… chosen by Ryan, not by me.

… and maybe one day we will talk again, but certain circumstances have to change before that even becomes a thought.

March was a hailstorm as well, besides publishing my very first book (more like a guide) called Young Living Business 101… view HERE. It contains basic business principles, as well as tips to help promote your YL biz, and tax suggestions.

The other circumstance (neighbors) rocked our family pretty hard. We started questioning whether we should move, and build again somewhere else (still local)… since they lived right next door, and looking out our bedroom window wasn’t our favorite view. We collectively decided to finish our home, sell, and find property to purchase that would give us more space where we were free to pursue our passions without wandering eyes in our business.

April was just that… except to add to our stress, we had a horrific accident involving Isla + our pup Scout (who was hit by a car and suffered extensive brain damage, too much to save). Even typing this out makes me sick with sadness, we spent months mourning the loss of this sweet pup.

Ry and I also went out on a limb financially, and hired a crew to help finish our home at the start of April.

In the meantime, Ryan was working his hiney off for Xanterra… a local company in charge of purchasing and renovations for Glacier National Park. The work was great, and our family was thankful for the opportunity… but at the end of May (after months of unpaid work), Xanterra owed Ryan over $12,000. Yes, you read that right, twelve thousand dollars.

I don’t recommend any local friends picking up work from them – not to mention they want top quality for little cash.

Okay, yes… they’re a corporation, so it can take up to 60 days for paid invoices once work is complete… however, we finally received our last check in August (well over their 60 day period). Once again we were out on a limb financially thanks to the delay in payment. We got caught up again once he got paid, but this was the first time we got to experience the “heat” of owning a small business.

Thankfully Alpine Baby Co was growing during this down time for Ry, and we were able to supplement each others income. He supplemented mine during the early Spring, when biz is slow – and I, him in early Summer. This is what it means to be true in marriage, working as a team for the better of your family.

If there’s one lesson we learned this year, it was Ry and I were paired by God… because everything that’s supposed to break us apart actually draws us closer.

Onto July, when things really heated up for Alpine Baby Co. Heather was pumping out over 100 leggings a week for my wholesale and retail accounts, and I still couldn’t get caught up. We had a family reunion planned for the Oregon Coast mid-July, which would be the highlight of our year. We packed up our family of five with camp gear for 8 days… and made it 1 night in Spokane (half way point). The next morning we discovered Bella had broke out with Hand, Foot, and Mouth. Cancelled our whole trip, and drove back home that morning.

I decided that wasn’t going to ruin our Summer, and so I started planning our trip to Canmore, Alberta with Jenna Hobbs, an Instagram friend of mine and a Canadian photographer. The Fall shoot would take place in the Rocky Mountains, where everything is twice as grandiose as it is here. So late August, before Bella started school, we left yet again for a five day camp trip in another country.

Spending time with Jenna + her family was the highlight of my 2016, along with hiring Heather. We visited Lake Louise, camped at a beautiful spot just outside the quaint town of Canmore (reminded me of Whitefish)… and made countless memories in the in-between. The photos I have to remember that trip from, I will cherish forever. We will plan a Canada trip for 2017 as well… cannot stay away from all the beauty + friendship. Good for the soul.

Full Canmore Trip photos HERE.

Bella started first grade at Muldown as soon as we got back from Canmore. She loves her friend circle and her new teacher. She also decided no soccer this year, so instead we did Ballet. To say that she completely blossomed with Ballet would be an understatement. She LOVED it, and did really well at her December performance.

In the fall things started picking back up for Ryan, as he found work in a town about 45 minutes away. He joined on as a subcontractor for TCG, a company who’s morals and values line up with ours. Quickly his time was filled by finish work, and all the things he does best. He excelled in the eyes of the owners, and is now spearheading new road construction in a million dollar subdivision. So damn proud of you Ry… and thankful your talents (and our family) are finally appreciated by another. Hard work, and all those years in construction are paying off.

Alpine Baby Co launched Fall in Sept, and other exclusive lines in October. Shattering previous records financially, while still giving back to others. ABco’s Give One, Get One Project was able to donate over 30 pairs of leggings to foster children in Texas, through The Foster Village Austin. We also teamed up with David + Courtney Baker of The Do GOOD project, to help raise funds for their upcoming adoption, and to spread Nellie May’s message.

Heather burned through three, brand-new overlock machines this last year, and in November I bit the bullet to purchase an Industrial Machine ($2,200). It arrived 5 days late during the busiest season of biz, and ran backwards, oil spilling out all of its parts with the gauge not working… Hooray is 2016 done with us yet?! We participated in Vintage Whites Market, Handmade Holiday, and MADE fair… which opened my eyes even more to all the support we have.

THANK YOU FRIENDS!

Coming into December I chose to slow down… participating in new actives with the girls that required using everyday materials to make decorations, or handmade gifts for loved ones. I had hit a record mark for sales in 2016 with Alpine Baby Co, and Ryan has steady work for months to come.

During 2016, we minimized our home goods – and attempted to minimize our schedule. Unfortunately our schedule won this year, and in turn we rode the waves as they came. Our priority to live a slow life is pushing its way to the surface, and in 2017 that will be a major factor in our lives.

We are battered and bruised, but not without gaining strength, courage, and many new opportunities. God always has a bigger plan, and to be honest, I didn’t trust it much in 2016. Spiritually, I need some work. Our family needs some work… so we will be making the changes necessary for growth and relationship with Jesus.

Goals for 2017 include:

  • Getting a refinance loan in February to consolidate debt accrued during our home finish.
  • Possibly selling in the Spring, and starting a new home in the woods on property we purchased in 2016.
  • Keeping an open schedule to serve others, and be present with my kids.
  • Not drinking alcohol & getting active. We already eat pretty well, and mostly organic.
  • I want to pursue photography more, increasing brand shoots + family lifestyle sessions.
  • Plan 1 vacations, or small getaway per month that don’t cost a lot but comes with many memories.
  • Continuing on our path to a minimal life, and participating in a “No Shopping for 30 days” challenge in February.
  • Kindle my passion for helping kids create by organizing a local event (it’s a secret besides that).
  • Actually making it to the Oregon Coast for our family reunion this summer.
  • Going to visit Jenna Hobbs in September-ish for a Free Woman Session.

“The things that excite you are not random. They are connected to your purpose.

Follow them.”

Here’s to a New Year + a clean slate friends! xo – Chelsi

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