Monday, March 14, 2011

More from my bouquet...

Imagine coming home from school on your birthday and being met halfway up your driveway by your neighbor who is wearing the biggest grin you've ever seen. " birthday surprise is so incredible that even the neighbors are excited!" I imagined. Then to my surprise she pulls this cake out of nowhere that must have taken her hours to create...a beautiful pink cake with a fancy white poodle on the top complete with coconut flake fur.

Guess who has never liked coconut flakes? Guess whose mom was lying sick in bed, thus inspiring this kind woman's attempt to save a little girls birthday? Guess who cried and sulked off into her room, without so much as a "thank you", thus leaving this poor Samaritan holding the cake?

(Guess who just burned dinner because she was blogging? I thought the tears were from remorse...nope, try smoke.)

In the end, however, this kind lady should take solace in one thing. And that is knowing that her cake, although rejected as it was at the time, is the only cake from my childhood that I can still remember.

My Kids

Nick - His first "video game" was a program Mark brought home from work that his company had designed to help medical students learn anatomy. At age four he almost had all of the bones memorized. We thought for sure he had inherited the PhD gene from my grandfathers. Nick lost interest when he started kindergarten.

Phoebe - She needed to be disciplined one afternoon, long after I had run out of mommy power, so I instructed her to go spank herself. She turned and left the room in tears to carry out the sentance.

Kate - When she was finally told the true identity of Santa Claus, she sighed in deep relief and exclaimed how glad she was to know because, in her words, "I was just going to keep on believing no matter what all the kids at school said". Wow, talk about conviction!

When we were living in Maryland, Kate was nine and was assigned to write an essay on Martin Luther Kings birthday. The theme was "I have a dream". Kate wrote: "I have a dream that all the people in Maryland will start being Mormons so they can be good." Her teacher did her best to express her objection in red ink without sounding too incensed, but it was hard to hide her incredulity.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

From My Bouquet

"God gave us memories, so that we might have roses in December." From my bouquet:

~I remember going on business trips with my dad. He had to drive up and down the Oregon Coast for sales calls and those of us that were old enough were invited, one at a time, to accompany him on some of these treks. This meant; missing school, seeing new landscapes, one on one time with dad, a heaping of music from the 60's, sitting in the front seat without having to take turns or fight with siblings, endless restaurant food, hotels with indoor pools and...Good Morning America.

I would wake up in the mornings to the sounds and smells of a freshly groomed father getting ready for his sales calls that day. The smell was probably a mix of "classic hotel" (chlorine, coffee and a hint of cigarette smoke) and Old Spice. The sound was always Good Morning America and an electric razor running in the background. I'm dizzy with nostalgia just thinking about it. Those were happy times.

Now, it's difficult if not impossible, to recreate the smell of a hotel room when you need a good sensory hug. And maybe that's a good thing. But, to this day, I still find the sound of GMA on the TV to be extremely comforting during times of stress or uncertainty. It got me through a lot of tough "Operation Desert Storm" mornings when I would have otherwise been all alone. There's no doubt in my mind where that little emotional/sensory crutch came from.

Does the Emmy go to ABC? No way. It could have been any show playing in the background on those business trip mornings. The award goes to Dad for making a little kid feel not so little, a passion of his that he has refined over the years and now passes down to his grandkids.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tops for Tots

I unintentionally ran a home based business from 1993-2000. It started when my son was born 14 months after my daughter was born (also unintentional). Unlike his big sister, he didn't come out of the womb with a shock of thick, dark hair covering his head. Also unlike his sister, I couldn't dress him up with ribbons and bows. So to me, he sometimes seemed half dressed with nothing on his bald, albeit cute, little noggin.

At that time in my life, at home all day with two very little children, I maintained my sanity by spending lots of time behind the sewing machine as well as at the fabric store. In fact, it was at a fabric store where I discovered a pattern for baby baseball caps. What a revelation! It never occured to me that I could make a baseball hat, let alone one for a baby. But in the end, I would end up making over a thousand.

The hats were created solely for Nick at first. Then I started making them for baby showers that I had been invited to. Soon, friends who were going to other baby showers started calling and placing orders. This led to the idea that I might be able to sell them at the Wymount Terrace yard sales on Saturday mornings. The first time I sold out of hats in less than an hour...I knew I was on to something good.

This is where my dad comes in. He knew the buyer for a baby boutique in American Fork called "Little Things Mean A Lot". Sharon agreed to look at my hats to see if they would be a good fit for the store. She really liked them, but suggested a few tailoring tips that would make them look more professional, which I immediately implemented.

After filling a couple of orders for her store I began to feel more confident in my product. I started approaching other baby boutiques in the valley. At one point I had hats in three different stores in Utah. They took me 1/2 hour to make and cost anywhere between $1 to $2 dollars for the materials. I sold them for $6, the stores turned around and sold them for $12-16 each.

At the climax of my little business I found myself sitting with the buyer for the Nordstrom store in downtown Salt Lake City. To my surprise, she wanted to order a dozen hats and run a test market on them. I was dizzy as I drove home. Dizzy with excitement and the magnitude of it all. I started adding up everything I would have to do to be a supplier for a national chain, starting with getting insurance and a business license to hiring other women to help with the manufacturing.

But as I pulled into the driveway of my house, a house that was filled with three beautiful children and all the love I could ever want...I instantly, without a doubt or even a nod of regret, knew that I would not be fetching a business license anytime soon. I waited a few weeks and called Nordstrom to let her know my decision and I have never looked back.

I sold hats in my little boutiques for four more years and two more children after that. Then one day while filling an order, between nursing my fifth child and packing my family to move across the country to Baltimore, I knew it was time. I finished the hat I was working on, wrote a letter of apology for the partial order, as well as one of thanks for the years of patronage, and closed shop.

I opened it once more a couple of years later when I was desperate for airfare to fly back to Utah for a visit but never again since then.

How fun that was and how lucky I am to have that chapter in my life, unintentional or otherwise. I know without a doubt, that this was just one instant of many where the inspired leaders of our church taught me the truth about the true meaning of success.