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The Journey Behind the Blog–Part 1

Happy Monday friends! Since I know there are quite a few new faces stopping in to read my little ole’ blog and there are those of you who have followed Poofy Cheeks for a while I wanted to give you a glimpse at the girl and the journey behind the blog. A lot of times I write blog posts and don’t make much mention of my family or what is going on in my personal life so I wanted to start from the very beginning of my journey as a handmade seller and blogger. Since starting this blog in 2010 I have grown and gone through so much! There are many times when this blog has kept me sane or the relationships I have made through blogging have helped me through! Let me start out by introducing myself – I’m Kelsey – a wife to my husband Mike and a mom to our four kids (Wyatt 6, Mason 5, Delilah 1 1/2, and Emmett one month). For the past year and a half I have worked from home running my blog and shop and in between I keep my household up and running. I could live off of Peach Snapple, A&W Rootbeer and Haribo gummy bears! Target is my favorite place to shop and it is also the closest store to our house so I am there a few times a week (It is a Super Target — SCORE!). I grew up in Rochelle, Illinois and moved to Florida the month before I turned 18. Almost a year after I moved to Florida I met Mike and a year later he proposed to me…. about a month later we found out I was 4 weeks pregnant. Everything moved so quickly but from the first day Mike and I met we instantly clicked and I couldn’t ask for a more supportive husband or a better best friend! The story behind Poofy Cheeks {Left: Emmett // Right: Wyatt, Mike & Mason} The story behind Poofy Cheeks {Left: Me & Delilah // Right: Mike & Delilah} And so the story begins – I have been creative for as long as I can remember. As a young girl I spent lots of time with my grandma who has a passion for sewing. She was always buying my brother, sister and I art and craft supplies or sending craft books home with us (things grandmas did during the days before the internet and pinterest). All through school I loved art class and when I was able to start picking my own classes during Junior High and High School I took as many art classes as possible. I would always come up with craft ideas (one year I made popsicle stick Christmas trees with bead ornaments) and gave them to my family as gifts. When I was in High School I would rearrange my room on a monthly basis, use money I made at my waitressing job to buy décor for my bedroom and even repainted it and started all over a few times. As a High School student preparing for college I wanted to study something where I could use my creativity but I didn’t quite know what that was. My mom told me a lot of times artists didn’t make much money and although I was interested in architectural degrees they also seemed a bit boring. I spent my first semester at Northern Illinois University undecided and after I moved to Florida I found myself at a community college that offered a Web and Graphic Design program. My love for art and creativity was followed by a passion for technology so the Web and Graphic Design program seemed to be the perfect fit. I loved going to school and homework didn’t seem like work so I knew I was onto something. I made it almost entirely though the program when the school notified us that they were discontinuing all graphic design related programs. They would be offering the classes for one more semester but only one time option would be available. Here I was now a mom of two with a full-time job I couldn’t quit (because I had a family and bills), we couldn’t afford daycare and I couldn’t finish my classes because the one time they offered them was during the daytime when my husband worked. I had started selling on ETSY as ‘Poofy Cheeks’ in 2009, right around the time I had my second son Mason and it was in 2010 when I found out what a blog was and decided to start my own. I shared pictures of things I created, updates on things I made for my ETSY shop, a lot of personal day-to-day stuff with my boys and it was more like a journal to me. I started exploring other blogs and soon it seemed like blogs were popping up everywhere. I remember reading Tatertots and Jello, I Heart Naptime and Censational Girl and I was so inspired by what those ladies were doing. I was already sharing recipes and crafts just not in the same format and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to make of my blog yet. It took me quite a while to find my spot, my passion and my voice but eventually I found it! The story behind Poofy Cheeks Wyatt and Mason in 2010 – a picture I used in a Halloween post. By 2011 we were a family of four, I had been going back to school taking online classes through DeVry University and working full-time at a resort on the beach. I spent as much of my free time as I could crafting, creating, blogging and trying to grow my online shop. My husband and I were young and still learning the ropes on budgeting, money and spending wisely. Looking back we shouldn’t have been struggling as bad as we were financially but we made poor choices with our money. We took trips and vacations we shouldn’t have which left us with little spending money. The small amount of spending money we had lead me to do a lot of home décor projects and thrift store/garage sale upcycles (like this one) as I tried to make our house a home. I think learning about money management and spending is something most of us go through as we transition into being adults and parents. By doing a lot of DIY décor it taught me how to make something from nothing – which I still continue to do today. On my blog I look back at some of the projects I did in 2011 and laugh because they weren’t the best, the photos weren’t great (certainly not Pinterest-worthy) but those were the carefree days of blogging. Towards the end of 2011 I found myself learning and using social media. I created a facebook page for Poofy Cheeks, took the twitter plunge and started using Pinterest. 2011 was also the year I shut down my shop on ETSY and started selling on Storenvy. Once again here is where I look back and laugh. Some of the things I sold or the pictures I had just make me chuckle (again – far from being pin worthy). Regardless of what I was selling – I WAS selling and I really started to learn a lot about marketing my online business, advertising and all of the things that worked and didn’t work. I thought giveaways would drive traffic – but they usually just spiked short-term traffic and little to no sales. I thought advertising on bigger blogs would work – but it usually did not. It took a lot of trial and error to find what really worked for my shop and items. The story behind Poofy Cheeks With everything happening with school, work, my family and then my blog and shop I started to get burned out towards the end of 2011. I found myself once again so close to having a degree (this time my bachelor’s degree) but not able to pass one of the required classes. After receiving a couple of poor grades (which was very unlike me) and not able to pass the required class I was told I had also reached a limit on financial aid assistance. Once again here I was… now buried in student loan debt, no degree, struggling to pay our bills and completely depressed (which I wrote more about here and here) because I knew at this point in my life I wouldn’t be able to finish school. I felt like I couldn’t do anything, nobody cared or supported me, like I was the ultimate failure and I feel so horrible for what a crappy mom I was during the dark days. I yelled at my boys who were 2 and 3 and didn’t know better for the things I would get onto them about. I put on a fake facade and did my best to smile through everything but that only worked for so long. That November I found myself face to face with a psychologist and then a psychiatrist. I was finally able to talk about things that I had buried all the way back to my childhood and found relief from anger and jealousy that had been plaguing me for quite some time. on that note this story is to be continued… luckily after having a rough start in 2012 it ended up being an awesome year in so many ways!

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Monday 14th of July 2014

Love this very raw post....cant wait for the next segment, have been following you for a few are such an inspiration in my life.

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