At Home with Christiana: Thinking about that third baby?

As incredibly proud and crazy parents of three little ones, my husband and I have been surprised at how frequently we are asked about the transition from two to three children by families expecting or considering a third child.

What’s it like going from two kids to three?

How is the transition? Is it THAT bad?

Now, aside from wanting to throw my head back and laugh hysterically. Here’s what I would say to you if I had enough time sleep brainpower remaining to think through my answer…

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Life with Three Kids: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good: Confident Parenting with built-in helpers

There are clearly any number of absolutely joyful and miraculous things about bringing a baby into your family, regardless if it’s your first or fifth. Here’s what we found were the strong points of our ‘third baby’ transition.

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  • Your other kids already have a companion

Your first child had no one else play with but you when you brought home newborn child #2. In my case, I breastfed our babies. Trying to actively engage our first child (who was still a toddler in his own right) while simultaneously nursing our new baby was a big challenge for me. With baby #3, I found this aspect of the transition much easier. My two older boys were already happy to ignore me for blocks of time while playing legos or dress up with each other, so playing together while I was nursing or tending to baby #3 wasn’t a huge deal for them.

 

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  • No only-child adjustment

The change from “only child” is non-existent for your first two kids when you bring home baby #3. Your second child came into this world sharing the spotlight with his/her sibling, and your first child is already settled into the role of big brother or sister. Of course, every child is different, but I have observed among our family and friends that adding the third child is less of of a shock, than it was bringing home #2 for the first-born who enjoyed a window of time as your only child.

 

  • Not your first rodeo

With baby #3, I was much more confident in my abilities to notice problems and make the right decisions for my baby’s well-being (OK I still had Dr. Annie on speed-dial, but maybe less frequently.). You have a lot more experience going into your third baby, and it made me more self-assured as a mother and I was more comfortable trusting my instincts.

 

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  • You have a little helper

Your oldest has a few more years under their belt and is capable of being a much bigger help this go-round. Having a big enough kid to hand-feed their sibling puffs in the back seat of the car is. priceless.

  • Baby-weight schmaby-weight

I remember being completely terrified of my postpartum body the first time around. Would I ever be the same?! Is this even me?! Whose boobs are THESE!?

By baby #3, you know your body can and will rebound from pregnancy. Plus, you won’t have time to sit down or eat an actual meal anyway. So it often comes off fast. Trust me.

The bad: Tardy multi-tasker

I hesitate to even use the word “bad” here, and I’m not saying by any stretch of the imagination that having three children is any way bad. To the contrary, I think having three little people is total awesome-sauce.  BUT,  if we are being real here, I think we can all agree that there are some situations that you just don’t feel good about when they happen, in fact you feel rather bad. And these situations mentioned below, I have found to occur more often with three or more children in tow. Just keeping it real.

  • The call of nature will sabotage your on-time arrival, anywhere.

Someone will need to poo at the exact moment you need to leave the house.  I’m serious. Every. time. Just go ahead and set your alarm to leave  a few minutes earlier, it won’t matter. They’ll wait. And they’ll still “haaaaave to go!” at the time of departure. Nature: 1. On-time arrivals as a family of five: 0. Just don’t fight it.

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“Must be time to pick up my brother!”
  • Someone will nap when and only when you have to pick up or drop off another child.

This is enough to make a sleep-deprived parent of three want to put their head through a wall. But it’s infuriatingly true. The ability of your third baby to set their nap schedule to directly conflict with your other children’s schedules is uncanny.

  • Referee, shoes, snacks… and baby 

You will have to do everything for baby #3  that you did with baby #1 and baby #2, except you will now need to do it while either (1) refereeing your other children;  (2) frantically looking for your other children’s shoes; or (3) making a snack. No exceptions.

The Ugly: Exhausted germaphobe

  • NO. SLEEP.

For me, the ugliest part of adding baby #3 was lack of sleep. If you have your children close together, (ours are each 2 years apart) you still have little people that may have trouble sleeping through the night, or need reassurance that they are still your babies too (which often, for us, translated to mommy or daddy hugs and tuck-ins at random hours of the night). There’s no way to make it easy, but if you can try to remember that it will pass rather quickly, and even better if you have a partner or family member that can help alternate/take shifts, you will get through. Take any ALL of the freezer meals and offers to walk to your dog or pick up your other kids. It really takes a village, especially when you’re running a three child circus.

  • School germ-warfare

With baby #3, you will have two germ-covered angels coming from school or daycare everyday sharing a home with your new baby. You will, without a doubt, look down to help one child with a shoe/band-aid/tissue/whatever and look up to see your other child’s germ-covered finger/backpack strap/shoe-lace in your baby’s mouth. You can no longer run man-to-man defense. You just can’t. This sent me into complete germa-phobe mode. I surrounded our baby with bottles of sanitizer and shouted “pump before you touch!!” like a crazy-lady.  And sometimes no matter what you do, baby will get colds, (and no one will sleep) but all you can do is your best. And in the meantime buy sanitizer for your car, your purse, their backpacks, and every room in your house.

Did you know James Corden and Stephen Colbert both have three kids? They do. And they sum up the transition from two kids to three with incredible accuracy and humor here. If you or anyone you know is even thinking about baby three… Watch. This. First.

In sum: We are crazy. But happy. Usually.

Life with three kids is crazy, messy and busy, but it’s also beautiful, amazing, and (usually) really happy too.  Watching our boys dote on and care for their little sister makes our heart explode on the daily. (When they’re not beating each other it turns out they can be kind of sweet?!?) The dynamic of three kids is really special (and mostly fun) already and we can’t wait to see it grow.

Your hands will always be full, but so will your heart.

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fullsizeoutput_658Christiana is a Navy wife and mother of 3, attorney and former realtor, world traveler, home renovator and decorator, yogi, fitness enthusiast, and recipe and fine wine explorer.

 

Friday Funnies: Sh*t Moms Say

Before we were parents, we had this editorial Stepford-wife, blissful image of what it was going to be like. The kids would be clean and organized and I would gently teach them the ways of the world in a calm and reasonable voice. They would dote on me as much as I doted on them..and all would be…well cuteness and rainbows.

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Welp, welcome to the real world, folks. This is a little compilation of some of the best moments of “I Never Thought I’d Say….” and then parenthood rolled up like…

TOP 20 CRAZIEST THINGS TO COME OUT OF OUR MOMMY MOUTHS:

  1. “Guys, poop is not finger paint”  <cue barf noises>

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  2. “Do NOT wrap that extension cord around your neck.” or your sister’s, or the dog’s….why do they want to strangle themselves all. the. time??

  3. “Wow, I never knew that your best friend could single handedly defeat a colossal squid…..NO, I totally BELIEVE YOU.” <serious face>

  4. “No hunting chickens with the garden hose” please. 

  5. “Do you need a snacky-poo?” in some weird alien baby voice, who even am I??

  6.  “No touching butt-holes at the dinner table” because “no touching butt-holes ever” became unattainable at some point…

  7. “Oh God. Who did you just call?”

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  8. “Don’t worry about how bad my breath is, mama needs a hug!”

  9. “Did you just wash your hands in my water glass?!”

  10. “Boys! Use. Toilet paper.”

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  11. “An octopus does not have eight testicles” it’s tentacles, dear. 
  12. “Daddy was just helping mommy stretch” ahem…

  13. “GRAPES. OUT. OF. YOUR nose !” and, basically replace grapes with any object roughly nostril sized – what is with this??

  14. “No lightsabers at the table!”

  15. “Did you fart or is that your sister’s diaper?”

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  16. “Don’t wave your vulva at your sister!” because when you decide to use correct anatomical terms with your kids, you better stick with it.

  17. “We don’t poop in other people’s yards!” oh potty training…

  18. “Good Lord kid, quit eating the money.” there goes your college fund…

  19. “No coloring on the baby” or biting, or spitting, or feeding nuts to… just don’t touch the baby FFS!!

And by far, the craziest thing to come out of any of our mouths….

20. “Let’s have another baby”. BAhahahhahahahahhah!!

There’s no logic to it.

 

Oh yeah, that’s why!

Happy Friday peeps!!

 

Dr. Annie Answers: A Parent’s Intuition

Many of the things that people have said they appreciate about me as a doctor are the direct result of advice from one of my best mentors. One thing – trusting a parent’s intuition – has literally saved the lives of multiple patients of mine, and now hopefully, also that of my nephew. He’s in the womb below, while I was also preggers with baby #2.

As a resident, I remember feeling so lost in the beginning about offering advice on things like breastfeeding or colicky babies or a kid with a weird rash. I had been around lots of kids, sure, but I had never been pregnant, had never tried to breastfed a baby, or to get a fussy toddler to take medicine.

I, for sure, gave some asinine advice in those early days and more than once had patients laugh in my face (sorry pregnant patient who I tried to tell to work on her core strength for third trimester back pain!!). What Dr. Pippitt told me was, “Of course you don’t know their kid better than they do, but you do know medicine better than most of them.” Her advice now seems so obvious – let parents be the experts on their own kids. This applies to people being the expert on their own bodies also, but I’ve found we misinterpret ourselves more than parents do their kids…. so paying attention to what parents think is even more important IMHO.

Since then, I, of course, have become a mom twice over. I know tons more practical advice and can be quite a bit more helpful in treatment strategies. But! I still know that every parent is the expert on their own kid. My bottom line advice for when to have something checked out, followed up on, checked out again is always “if you, as the parent, are still worried or feel something’s not right”.

The validity of this was recently driven home in a tragic way. My sister, back in March, called me on FaceTime to show me a lump on her 3 year old kid’s neck. I took one look at it and thought, “that’s not normal”. My sister and her wife agreed and took him in to their pediatrician right away. The doc told them it was nothing to worry about. But… they were still worried when it didn’t go away. They saw ENT who also said it was nothing. But… they were still worried. Finally at 2 month follow up, it was bigger, not smaller. A few weeks later an MRI and biopsy had confirmed it was Hodgkin Lymphoma, an extremely rare, but very treatable diagnosis in someone his age.

Their intuition was right on, and had they not followed up despite being told it was nothing, it could have been caught at a later and more dangerous stage.

So, the next time you find yourself with that, “something’s not right” feeling, go ahead and get checked. This goes for your own body too, of course. Make sure the provider you see is able to make you feel confident that your fear can be ruled out before you go. This doesn’t mean they will do every test imaginable every time – sometimes we can take a look at something and tell you with high level of certainty, “you don’t need to worry”. We did go to school for a long time to learn that medical side of things, after all. But, if your care provider doesn’t listen to or respect your knowledge about your own kid or your own body, find a new one.

Dr. Annie is a married mother of 2, aunt of dozens of other amazing kids and family doctor in the Sacramento Area.

Ps. If you want to support my sister & her family, you can find them on Caringbridge.com under starlinglynnalesker

Momday Faves: Part Deux

To continue a “few of my favorite things” on these Momday Faves list….

Kristy’s turn:

Mommy Hooks

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Does this look like you running errands or enjoying a day out with kids in tow…one in a baby wearing device, one holding hands, and one in a stroller? Trying to run errands, go to the farmers market, store, zoo,shopping mall, anything can be overwhelming when the “stuff” piles up.

“mommy hold this” twice from each kid….plus picking up that package from post office and the flowers that I told you to buy for yourself a few posts ago…..

Heres your solution…The Stroller Hook!

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This one, by Toogli, is one that I like but there are several comparable brands to choose from here: Hook Options

This lovely thing clips ALL YOUR BAGS into your cart, stroller, backpack, wherever you want it! Its a heavy-duty carabiner that saved my life with two kids, a diaper bag, a baby wearing device, all the coats, shopping bags, etc!

Home Meal Delivery 

I am way into things arriving on my porch, ready to be made! Taking my kids to the store ended up getting extremely expensive for a family of four who eats wants to eat a paleo diet. We found Sunbasket.com and have LOVED every box we’ve gotten. They have very healthy options, and it saves us the time and money of getting all the ingredients at the store. Most of you know Blue Apron, but Sun Basket offers organic, free range, and different options for different dietary restrictions.

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For the price point, we’ve found Sunbasket to be the most convenient and the most excellent. As cross fitters, we need to focus on the fuel we put into our bodies daily.  With our schedules as they are, we wouldn’t eat as healthy as we do without Sunbasket.  Give it a shot!

And finally, a HUGE thank you to all of you who promoted our blog and got us to 50 followers. Keep sharing the good news and we will keep posting fun/informative/inspirational/random stuff!!

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Adventures of a Renaissance Mommy: Introducing Christiana!

Last but not least, I am Christiana, and I’ll be rounding out the DIY, home design, and real estate corner of this blog, which will be sprinkled (most likely erratically) with legal expertise, wanderlust, wellness, style, and my attempts at child-rearing philosophy (which mostly equates to embrace the crazy). A little bit of everything!  

I’m an attorney and a former Realtor, currently working as a full time at-home momma to three kids aged 5 and under, and wife to a Navy pilot. I love old houses and dirty jobs (no, not the diaper kind, but we have those here a lot right now too), and I spend my non-existent free time attempting DIY projects at the home we currently share with the tribe of monkeys we call our children. Think a slightly chaotic, less-than-polished HGTV show with naked toddlers and you’re just about there.

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Little Man Loves Demo Day!

I got here in kind of a roundabout way. I graduated from college and went straight to law school with a serious “Save the World” complex and a passion for Civil Rights. That’s all you need, right?! I focused on International Law and Human Rights and arranged to spend a year of my legal studies abroad in Japan, right around the same time my soon-to-be fiancé was stationed there flying for the Navy. I mean… fate, seriously? Gotchya.

I graduated from law school and joined a Big Four accounting firm in Tokyo. Fiancé became dear husband and we spent our dreamy newlywed years living in Japan and exploring Asia.  In short, I was living the life I had pretty much always envisioned for myself.

Graduate degree, check. Great job, check. Globetrotting, check. Fab husband, check. (Well, aside from saving the world. Which it turns out was not a paying job I was offered at graduation. Hmm. Still #lifegoals)

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And then don’t you know it, the universe threw change at me. My husband got orders back to the ol’ US of A and I was faced with the decision to either remain in Japan alone, or … go home. So, home we went. Because despite really enjoying our great ex-pat lifestyle, I had a sneaking suspicion that something was still missing. That something turned out to in fact be 3 little people, a fluffy dog, an old house or two, and complete madness. But more on that later. 

Back stateside, I seized the opportunity to try something new, and decided to try my hand at Real Estate. It involves a good deal of legal concepts and I’ve always not so-secretly loved architecture and design, so it clicked. At around the same time, my husband and I found out we were expecting our first baby and we threw ourselves headfirst into renovating our recently purchased 100+ year old home with literally NO experience. (You will see that a lack of sanity is a recurring theme here).  It was messy, hectic, and definitely not always pretty (a respirator with work gloves and maternity pants is oh so fetching).

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But it was through these experiences that I realized how much I really love to design, reinvent, and restore spaces.  And with a LOT of trial and error and research (and plenty of YouTube tutorials… woot!) we actually got kind of good at this DIY thing.

Fast forward through two more moves, two more beautiful babies, deployments and homecomings, and the dust is just beginning to settle on yet another home renovation. And… you guessed it, we are already planning our next move! Sigh. I can’t say that being a military spouse makes anything easy, but it does keep things exciting…

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Welcoming daddy home from deployment (Photo courtesy of Tara Liebeck Photography)

Right, so this leads me to… why this blog? I will be the first to admit that I am a technology hermit. An old soul. I like to write with a pen and paper, thankyouverymuch. So, blogging is not something I was naturally drawn to. However, I do love the idea of spreading the friendship and wisdom and hilarity I have been so privileged to enjoy with these three exceptional women.

And hey, with my gypsy lifestyle sometimes long-distance support is all you’ve got.  My hope is that in sharing this sometimes often utterly humiliating stage of our lives and mixing it all up with our diverse and ongoing passions in life, we just might bring a little bit of laughter, comfort, joy (or who knows, maybe even inspiration!) to another household.

When the universe, and maybe even more importantly, my best friends come knocking…  “I’m in.” So, here’s to finding the joy in the everyday, in postponed or reimagined careers, in wonky old house projects, in broken bones (more on that later), and in actual spilled milk. I hope you’ll join us in our journey of friendship and growth as we embrace the crazy and surrender to the chaos. Here we go! Cheers!

IMG_5058Christiana is a Navy wife and mother of 3, attorney and former realtor, world traveler, home renovator and decorator, yogi, fitness enthusiast, and recipe and fine wine explorer.

Kristy, Au Naturale: Demystifying Doulas

In honor of the closing of World Doula WeekI asked my 7 year old son, “Honey, what do you think I do as a doula?” His reply was perfect, and what most folks (if they know doulas are a thing) think a doula does. He said “You help get babies to come out!”

In a word, “no” In a longer, roundabout way….yes.

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I am here to set the record straight on what a doula does and does not do.

I am, first and foremost, by no means, your primary medical caregiver. Whether the provider is midwife, OB-GYN, Nurse Practitioner, or even an EMT, they answer your questions about the medical care of your body and your baby, not the doula. 

So…. what is a doula?

One of the easiest and best definitions I have found comes from my doula-bible, Mothering the New Mother by Sally Placksin.

 “The doula’s basic role is to provide nonintrusive, nonjudgemental support according to the family needs and wishes”.

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We exist, and have since the dawn of birth in communal society, to assist a laboring mother’s relaxation and confidence that you can birth your baby, and to take away worries about anything else. We facilitate you and your partner (if present, whoever that may be) experiencing labor and birth however you have envisioned it.

That’s right. You envision a birth with no meds, in a tub with candles lit? We provide evidence-based assistance to help you there. You envision an epidural and watching comedy central while you dilate? We are with ya! What if something happens and medical advice doesn’t mesh with that? We help you through that adjustment to the vision. 

How does this work? A recent client had a fear of an epidural. Having had one previously, there was trauma about that experience. It was my role to talk about this prenatally. We talk about the benefits, the risks and how the couple wants to approach that decision this time. I’m there to allow the client to talk and tell her story about the reality of her trauma. And I’m there to do what can be done to make the coming birth experience empowering and under her control. Reassurance, peace of mind, and educational preparedness are our top roles prenatally and in the labor room.

IMG_0202Think the doula’s role is over once the baby is born? Nope. We also carry a role in helping facilitate breastfeeding and bottle feeding education and support. Some doulas are even IBLCE (International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners) certified as a part of their postpartum role. We can help you prepare and get through those first days, weeks and months postpartum. 

In short, doulas help you feel like YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN THIS. What is often missing from modern maternity care is the emotional support in prenatal care , in labor, and postpartum care for both mom, partner, and baby. THIS is the most important role we play as doulas. 

Are there benefits other than feeling supported? Hell to the yeah!

According to Robbie E. Davis-Floyd, author of Birth as an American Rite of Passage, a randomized study at Jefferson Davis Hospital in Houston Texas of 422 first time mothers were randomly assigned to one of three groups: 1) Control, had no one present. 2) Supported, doula present or assigned, or 3) just observed, someone there but no doula, showed:

“1)Epidural anesthesia and forceps use were much lower in the Supported group compared to the observed and control groups, and Cesarian section rates were halved compared to the control group”. From this, “They concluded that support during labor, even in the form of the present of a silent observer, has a therapeutic effect.”

Let me review: Lose your fear, feel empowered, AND potentially decrease risk of complications. Wait… can I get a life-doula?

IMG_9104Kristy Wright is a married mother of 2, doula, massage therapist, fitness coach and homesteader in the Richmond, VA area.

Margo’s Money Management: Why I Won’t Tell You ‘How Women Behave With Money’

Since we’re getting all personal here, I want to start by revealing a huge pet peeve of mine.  Let me set the stage with a few examples:

While studying for a finance exam recently, the instructor in my course said, “Women have unique challenges when it comes to saving for retirement.  However, one positive thing to note is that they take advice from financial advisors better than men!”

While driving in the car, a commercial came on for a bank.  “Women are more risk averse than men. Their investments generally are too conservative to earn the rate of investment return they need to save for retirement.”

While listening to a podcast, I came across this gem: “If you are an advisor that works with women, keep in mind that they want you to treat them differently than you might treat a man.  Speak to them instead of their husbands. Explain it in a way they understand. Don’t use too much jargon. Look them in the eye, focus on behaviors, and show empathy.”

An article recently came across my desk from a finance writer titled, “What Women Want.” Enough already! I immediately put it in the trash.

UMMMMMMM. HELLLOOOOOOOOOO.  Am I losing my mind??!?!!? When is the last time we heard commercials, read articles, or listened to instructors talk about men like this?  If men get to be individuals, with individual goals, needs and behaviors, why can’t women be unique individuals too? Dang. And who is writing this crazy offensive content?!  Boo hiss!!! 

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My managing partner asked me not too long ago if I’d be interested in writing an article to send out to clients.  I thought, “Maybe I should speak to our women clients?” However, when I sat down to write it I started to get frustrated.  I kept thinking about all of these experiences I’ve shared with you here and finally just wrote one sentence: “Women are individuals who each desire unique things from their financial advisor/investment manager based on their own situation, goals and feelings.”  I couldn’t get past this sentence so I gave up.

So, here is my PSA:  If you are working with an advisor, find one that helps you because you. are. you.  Not because you are a woman and he/she thinks she already knows what you want. Not because you “take direction well” or need to be coddled.  Ask them questions about the ways in which they are compensated (I will share some guidance on this in a later post). Figure out if they know how to incorporate your personal needs into a plan of action rather than just telling you what they think you should do (AKA, a canned plan) without getting to know you.  Find someone who respects you, regardless of your sex or whether you are the primary breadwinner in your household or not. Women have been running the show for quite some time now. (Actually, I heard recently that women control finances in 51% of households now so HELL YEA TO THAT!) It’s just that now women are starting to stand up and admit they run the show instead of allowing others to feel like they are all-powerful and the women can just “leave the money management to the men.” 

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To that point, I have one more story I’d like to share.  While at a finance conference, I sat down for the keynote session at a table near the front (Yes, I am one of those people who always sits in the front. It’s a survival habit from my elementary school days before I admitted I needed glasses).  The man sitting next to me turned to me and said, “Oh hi! You must be one of the TD girls!” Uhmmm, excuse me? “No sir, I am an advisor, like you.” Cue the mortified silence from him. And I have to say, I am glad he was mortified.  At least he showed some remorse for A) calling me a girl when I’m clearly a grown woman and B) assuming I must work for the bank as a conference hospitality rep instead of possibly being a financial advisor like him. Maybe that embarrassment is progress? Since I am trying this new thing where I assume positive intent from everyone I encounter, I have chosen to take the potential complement – he thought I looked young enough to be considered a “girl”.  However, this sheds a light on a major problem in the world of finance that still exists to this day – the fact that the majority of people think “it’s a man’s world and we are all living in it”.

Well, I hate to break it to you world, but this woman (and many advisors like me) won’t let that stand for too much longer.  And, let it be known, I treat all of my clients with respect and as individuals, whether they are man, woman, in the green, in the red, rich, older, younger or brand spanking new to starting this whole “saving” thing.

Don’t let anyone tell you what you (should) want or how you behave. 

 

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