Thursday, June 28, 2007

Business 101

There's nothing like a lemonade stand to teach your kids about business. I felt like Donald Trump with all the wisdom I was imparting. Yes, I am a huge fan of "The Apprentice", and I always loved his common sense bits of information that were peppered throughout each episode. He would preface each with, "In life, as in business....." I took that format and ran with it. The kids just want to make a quart of lemonade and sit at the end of the driveway, make a few bucks and call it good. I, on the other hand, am trying to use this experience to teach them a little about how business works. After all, don't most successful entrepreneurs get their start from a humble roadside lemonade stand?

First of all, every business owner needs "seed" money-- the old adage, "You have to have money to make money" holds true for any business. They didn't have to fill out tons of paperwork for their business loan, it came from a mom who can spot a good investment when she sees one. (let's see, they are busy doing something productive, working together, making some money, and providing material for a blog post. Not a bad investment at all.) We were off to the store to buy cups, ice and lemonade.

The second lesson they learned was that the success of your business comes down to marketing and pricing (why yes, I did learn that from the Apprentice, why do you ask?) We found out something very interesting. When the price for a cup of lemonade is set at 50 cents, the customer is more likely to wait for their change back. BUT, when the price was only 25 cents, about one in three customers would give them a whole dollar and tell them to keep the change. Why, I don't know but that's what happened. It would certainly make a very interesting study for a doctoral thesis, don't you think?

Having a cute little stand helps to bring in customers because it catches their attention, and that my friends, is marketing. It doesn't really matter if you have the best lemonade in the world if nobody stops to buy any, am I right? (oh The Donald would be so proud!) The kids borrowed our little Tiki stand from last year's Survivor Party and transformed it into a very cute little stand just by turning the Tiki Bar sign around and finding some stickers to spell "LEMONADE".

Another thing the boys learned is the value of a cute little sister. She can bring in the customers like nobody's business, just with her little princess wave and her cute little voice saying, "Lemonade for sale, 25 cents." If you can drive past something like that without stopping and buying a cup, then you have a very hard heart and bigger problems than lack of a quarter and a little thirst.

The next thing they learned is that said little sister works fairly cheaply, although she will insist on drinking a few cups of lemonade. Each time she earned a quarter, she would turn around and buy another cup.

They learned that fireman ALWAYS stop for a drink and a little conversation. It seems they have a soft spot for kids who run lemonade stands. They were the best customers ever.

Another thing they figured out is that you can make your product stand out simply by using fancy descriptive words (this is the generation of kids who have been marketed to from the time they were born, after all) They are good at it. "This lemonade is made from the finest quality water, includes the cup AND ice!"

The best thing to come out of this is to see the kids earn their own money and have the satisfaction of a reward for their hard work.

Never mind that the supplies cost mom $10.00, while the kids earned $8.00. Those two dollars have an important function--- they are an investment in future entrepreneurs.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Before and After



As you can see in the "before" picture, the rhododendron is overgrown and blocking the bay window. We decided to remove the entire shrub, unfortunately it was just too big and not right for this space. It was a beautiful plant but in the wrong location. Then, as you can see in the "after" photo, we added a small fountain, boxwoods along the foundation, and a fuschia and ornamental grasses that do not get very big and like dry, shady areas. The camilla shrubs were trimmed. For flowering trees and shrubs, the best time to prune is after they flower but before they set their new buds for next year. We also fertilized afterwards to help it overcome the trauma of all the cuts. We think it looks so much better. Now, when we open our dining room window, we can see out and hear the water running! It is so relaxing.

The Lovebirds Fountain up close:

Friday, June 22, 2007

Photo Friday- The Last Time You Were This Happy

What could be happier than a boy with his dog?

This picture is one of my favorites of Wild Thing and Shadow.

How about this one?
Princess and her friend enjoy a summer treat

For more Photo Friday, go to

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pneumonia, Kidney Stones, Allergies, OH MY

What do all these have in common? Nothing, really except that this week our house has seen all three. Allergies are a given--- every year from April to at least July, and again in the fall. There are good days and then flare ups every now and then. Friday was my flare-up day. Still, it's not the worst thing in the world.

Then there is pneumonia. Yes, that is what caused our early morning jaunt to the emergency room the other night, except we were busy thinking it was appendicitis. Here's a saying they tell medical students regarding diagnosis-- "When you hear hoof beats, think HORSES not ZEBRAS." But here is a saying that is not so popular and should be also taught in medical school: "When a child has a severe stomach-ache in the middle of the night, think PNEUMONIA, not APPENDICITIS." It certainly would have saved us some trouble. I brought Wild Thing to his follow up doctor appointment two days after our ER visit, since he still was feeling terrible, and still complaining of a stomach ache. We brought him in, and after relaying the symptoms to the doctor who immediately suspected pneumonia, either because by virtue of being in family practice, they tend to know what is currently going around, or because of having appendicitis ruled out by previous e.r. visit-- or possibly because this doctor had learned the other saying in medical school. In any case, a chest x-ray cleared up the matter and we knew why Wild Thing felt so terrible. A bottle of antibiotics and we were on our way. The next day he was practically back to himself, a miracle of modern medicine.

No sooner had Wild Thing gotten back on his feet, than Busy Wood shop Hubby (BWH) had fallen ill. Naturally, since his symptoms seemed so similar, we thought he had pneumonia as well. However, when we brought him to the after care facility (we never seem to get sick during office hours), the doctor determined that a kidney stone was to blame. We thought it was an odd coincidence, but then again, stranger things have happened. However, after days of suffering and sifting (don't ask), no kidney stone materialized and BWH is finally feeling better. We still think that the after care doc was thinking Zebra when he should have been thinking Horse, but in any case, all is finally well in our household again. Well, except for those darned allergies. Two out of three isn't bad.

**EDITED March 7, 2009*** please click on this entry: Searching for another post regarding pneumonia and kidney related problems

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Things my Father Taught Me

(This was written a number of years ago and given to my Dad as a gift for Father's Day)

Things My Father Taught Me

That you can hit the snooze button as many times as you like, but eventually you will have to get up and greet the day.

That a great way to get a sleepy teenager from hitting the snooze button again is to put your ice-cold, just-cleaned-the-pool-filter hands on her neck.

That you should never judge a book by its cover, it may just be the best book you ever read.

That a dad can always tell how the dent in the car got there, no matter how much his teenage daughter sticks to her story.

That the saying, "This will hurt me a lot more than you" is true even when it precedes a spanking.

That you are never too old to have a teddy bear.

That one man's junk is Dad's fortune.

That the cows will always know when the electric fence is down, and it is always when dad is out of town on business.

That the tractor should never be driven by a girl who doesn't know which pedal is the gas and which is the brake.

That the early bird gets the worm, and worms are good protein.

That you can never give your dad too many socks or Old Spice cologne sets.

That a dish towel left near the lit burner will catch fire 99 percent of the time.

That it is better to give than receive, especially when it is a well-deserved spanking.

That daughters should always listen to the wisdom of their fathers.

That little girls grow up into big girls but they will always need their Daddies.

Daddy's girls

Happy Father's Day!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The 2 AM Red Eye

Waking in the middle of the night with a 9 year-old who has a severe stomach ache, right in the spot where appendicitis would be is not what most people think of a 2 a.m. red eye. Let me explain what happened. Since he had been complaining of a worsening ache for quite some time, earlier in the afternoon, I naturally logged on to Web MD, typing in the symptoms and finding that, sure enough, they all did fit the scenario of a possible appendicitis. Or a number of other things, all of which are much less of an emergency. Being a mom, though, of course, I'm already running that worst-case scenario through my mind. (What if I am wrong and it isn't just a tummy bug?) I was a little worried. Ok. A lot worried. I told him at bedtime to wake me if it got worse.

Fast forward to 2 AM. He wakes me, says his tummy is much worse, he can barely stand up and walk, so I of course jumped out of bed and called the advice nurse. That took a while, since I dialed the number, got a recording which told me to dial another number-- I dial that number which tells me to dial the number I had just dialed. I guess managed care means that if you manage to get any care, you're lucky. I finally managed to get a nurse on the line, answered all her questions and she determined we were worthy to proceed to the next round: the emergency room.

Since most of our friends are sleeping at that time of night, we decided to wake the other kids and take them with us. The more the merrier, right? Meanwhile, Busy Woodshop Hubby is brushing his teeth, older brother is getting dressed, Wild Thing is getting increasingly more uncomfortable, and I am hurriedly getting the Princess dressed and gathering things together. We are trying to hurry, but at 2 o'clock in the morning it is not easy to find pants, a top, and two shoes. I was quickly putting in my contact lenses when my eyes started burning like crazy. I look at the bottle of my new solution and suddenly, I remember that the instructions say to keep the lenses in for at least six hours. Believe me, when they say six hours, they MEAN six hours. Apparently, the solution needs enough time to neutralize, and four hours just doesn't cut it. I immediately removed them, rinsed out my on fire eyeballs and decided glasses might be safer for now and quicker at this point. After a few times of running up and down the stairs, bumping into each other in the hallway, and taking the dogs out for a quick walk, we finally get everyone in the car.

We get to the ER, which is almost completely empty except for the guy with the horrid looking infection on his leg that we made sure not to sit anywhere near. We were confident that we would be helped in a timely manner, which, as far as an emergency room goes, we were. Wild Thing is taken back and has a battery of tests while I stay in the waiting room looking lovely in my nice red eyes and just-got-out-of-bed hairstyle. Somehow, it wasn't at all like you see on T.V. We wait for another little while, I read all the magazines, do puzzles with the Princess, fish around my purse for change for the vending machine, and then after all the adrenaline is used up, we get cozy in the chairs for a little 4 am nap. I look over at my older son and notice that in the frenzy of our getting out the door, he somehow had the presence of mind to bring his laptop. He's not one to pass up an opportunity for free WiFi, not even at 2 a.m. in the ER waiting room. Gotta love that brotherly kind of love, doesn't it just make you all teary eyed and all? I know it did me. Or maybe it was the acid I put in my eye.

In any case, a few labs and a CT scan later, we find that Wild Thing doesn't have appendicitis after all. Which is good, of course, wonderful news. So we're home now, BWH went on to his day job, The Kid went to school, I'm sitting here with my bloodshot peepers, the Princess is napping and Wild Thing? Oh, he's feeling so much better that right at this moment, he's sipping chicken broth and watching Spongebob.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Late Spring Field Day

Welcome to the Pink Victorian Late Spring Field Day! I'm glad you stopped by!

The tour begins at the front door, where you can see that our yard has a lot going on. Since this is our second year here, I know that all those plants which I was sure had died during the winter will spring to life and start to bloom. I get so excited when I see everything coming back to life. Then, the work begins! This yard takes a lot of upkeep, with three lawns to mow and a completely landscaped acre which needs constant watering, weeding, trimming, fertilizing, mulching and preening. There is a creek and a pond on the side yard, along with a large variety of trees, bushes and flowers everywhere! When we have a moment, we like to pour a nice glass of iced tea and relax on the front porch and this is what we see:
The pathway leading to the front door winds around to the driveway, and goes around the front garden and back to the porch-- a perfect little 'race track' for the Princess and her bike. She loves to ride it around and around while I water the plants.

Here is another view from the porch:
I have been wanting to do this for a long time. Finally I have a hill for a canvas! Take a cedar planter, lay it on its side, fill with a little dirt (to keep it from rolling away) and then plant flowers in a spill pattern. It really looks very cute:This bush is always buzzing with bees. I have never seen so many bees in one place, at least not in my yard!
Isn't this a beautiful color? We have just about every color of rhododendron, but this one has to be my favorite:
When you live in a Victorian, you need some topiaries. I thought it was fun to trim these little bushes. I felt almost like Edward Scissorhands. You can also see the beautiful peonies in this picture.
Here is part of the front garden, where there are lots of bushes, I have planted some tall flowers in the middle to give it a cottage look. There are lamb's ear, sweet william, carnations, columbine, bee balm, bearded tongue and delphinium:
A memorial for our little puppy, Shiloh, who was hit by a car last summer:
A quiet spot to enjoy the yard

Here is the pond in the side yard, which currently needs a little work. We will need to drain it to pull out the cattails which have taken over, and install a liner for easier maintenance. Since this picture was taken, we have started on this area. Another view of the side yard--- a weeping cedar and some juniper bushes (we call them bunny bushes because that is where they like to hide their babies)

Taken from the pond, towards the house. The big tree is a magnolia tree. If you look really closely, you will see the little door is the 'secret entrance' to Dexter's laboratory (or Busy Woodshop Hubby's workshop, as it's known around here)

And, what would late spring be without Little League practices and games?

Friday, June 8, 2007

Warning-- Things May be Farther Away Than They Appear

Have you ever noticed when those weight loss ads say things like, "I lost 60 lbs using XYZ" and then in the teeny tiny print it says, "Results not typical"? What I want to know is, just what ARE the typical results, then, if these aren't? Did you also notice that the person in the After picture never really looks like the same person in the Before picture?

I have noticed that weight loss is big business (no pun intended!) and the ads prey on people who think that all they need to do is this one thing and poof-- instant After. Even with only 15 pounds to lose, I find it gets easy to get sucked into wanting to find a quick fix. What? You mean I have to really EXERCISE? I have to SWEAT? It's gonna HURT? I can't eat FATTENING FOOD? Are you serious?? The reality is, there is no fast, easy way to lose weight other than, maybe, liposuction. If I could only come up with a Chocolate and TV weight loss plan, I'd be a millionaire.

I suppose you get out of something what you put into it. But why is it that as soon as you commit to losing weight, things conspire to keep you from reaching your goal? The fat grams of the world have united and mock my efforts by making themselves even more appealing. I'm trying to ignore them, but it isn't easy.

Nonetheless, I've started tracking my points and try not to get discouraged when, after I type in my breakfast, I only have 12 points left for the day. I can see that the Weight Watcher's plan is balanced and provides a lot of motivation, but I have to do the work part myself. I'm finding that it is a daily challenge to eat healthier and to increase activity levels. There really is no easy way to do it, it just takes determination and constant vigilance. Oh, and will power. That really helps.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Summer Reading

Pope Benedict XIV -- Jesus of Nazareth

From the book jacket:
"This book is.... my personal search for the face of the Lord." --Benedict XVI

This is the Pope's first book written as Benedict XVI. I picked up my copy yesterday.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Strategic Planning for Summer

Just having finished mapping out the summer for the kids, I have to say that it takes one part secretary, one part strategist, one part mathematician, and one part crazy mom determined that her kids will get the most out of their time off. Using the local Parks & Recreation guide, Summer camp guide, and Community education guide, I was able to piece together a plan for the entire summer.

Sounds easy? This was me the last two days: coffee in one hand and phone in the other, guides spread out all over the table. I circled the things which sounded interesting (which was just about everything) Then, I got a calendar out and started filling it in, week by week until the summer started to take shape. It seemed easy at first, until I had to start changing things around as many of the camps conflict with each other. For instance, Science Camp sounded like it was right up their alley, (featuring a frog dissection! how cool is that?) but unfortunately, it conflicts with Vacation Bible School, which is already paid for and non-negotiable. I phoned for the Golf camp and it was already full, so what am I going to do with that week, now? So on it went.

Finally, after much wrangling, the schedule was all filled in and the kids have something to do just about every day. They will be spending some time doing lots of arts and crafts, nature walks, games, activities, outdoor fun at a local community park; tennis lessons; a week at the Humane Society's critter camp; guitar lessons; and the one I'm looking forward to the most-- two weeks of drama camp with a production of The Lion King!

In addition, they will be participating in the local library Summer Reading program as well as the program through their school. We have a chemistry set and other science kits and models to build that we didn't have time for during the school year. They are also going to continue with their at home guitar and piano lessons, as well as having a chart of chores and responsibilities which is kind of new in our house (mom realizes she needs to delegate!)

On the days and times between all these fun camps, we will be exploring our local area bike trails and hiking trails; their personal favorite--berry picking, and of course a zoo day or two. A local museum is hosting a once-in-a-lifetime viewing of the Body Worlds 3 exhibit, which we will be attending as well. All in all, it looks like it will be a fun and productive summer.

Friday, June 1, 2007

The Month of June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Consecration to the Sacred Heart

A wonderful devotion encouraged by the Church is devotion to the Sacred Heart, especially by consecrating our families to the Sacred Heart. Here is one version of a consecration.

Place a picture or statue of the Sacred Heart in a conspicuous place in the home, or in the place of honor on the family altar. In the evening the whole family gathers there before the altar on which a number of candles (the baptismal candles may be used) are lighted as symbols of faith and love of the members for the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Here is the official form for the private devotion of the Enthronement:

O Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thou didst reveal to the blessed Margaret Mary Thy desire to rule over Christian families; behold, in order to please Thee, we stand before Thee this day, to proclaim Thy full sovereignty over our family. We desire henceforth to live Thy life, we desire that the virtues, to which Thou hast promised peace on earth, may flower in the bosom of our family; we desire to keep far from us the spirit of the world, which Thou hast condemned. Thou art King of our minds by the simplicity of our faith; Thou art King of our hearts by our love of Thee alone, with which our hearts are on fire and whose flame we shall keep alive by frequently receiving the Holy Eucharist. Be pleased, O Sacred Heart, to preside over our gathering together, to bless our spiritual and temporal affairs, to ward off all annoyance from us, to hallow our joys and comfort our sorrows. If any of us has ever been so unhappy as to fall into the misery of displeasing Thee, grant that he may remember, O Heart of Jesus, that Thou art full of goodness and mercy toward the repentant sinner. And when the hour of separation strikes and death enters our family circle, whether we go or whether we stay, we shall all bow humbly before Thine eternal decrees. This shall be our consolation, to remember that the day will come, when our entire family, once more united in heaven, shall be able to sing of Thy glory and Thy goodness forever. May theImmaculate Heart of Mary and the glorious Patriarch St. Joseph vouchsafe to offer Thee this our act of consecration, and to keep the memory thereof alive in us all the days of our lives.

Glory to the Heart of Jesus, our King and Our Father!