Saturday, March 29, 2014

Adventure Days 2014: #1

When our oldest children were little, we started a tradition we call Adventure Day.  In those days, an Adventure Day was when Kent and I would make plans to take up an entire Saturday in exploring our great state, and then surprise the kids on Saturday morning by whisking them away from the usual routine of cold cereal and DVDs.

With #1's impending flight from the nest (in 2 1/2 years--too soon!), we are getting pretty serious about squeezing in lots of family time.  We've decided to make Adventure Days a monthly activity, schedule them on the calendar, and knock off some of the items on our family's bucket list.

Today's gorgeous weather coincided with our plans to hike to the hot pots in Diamond Fork Canyon.  When we arrived at the trail head, we realized we were not the only ones chomping at the bit to enjoy the lovely spring warmth and get into "the nature".  For possibly the first time ever, our family left home within three minutes of our planned departure time this morning, and three dozen other vehicles still beat us there.  We, including our friends, the Higas (whom we failed to get a picture with because we're lame) were not thwarted, however, and we quickly passed up the scout group that tried to get a leg up on us.

Poor #4 had really sore leg muscles from participating in her school's walk-a-thon yesterday.  We took that as an opportunity to give Mark and Bri's dogs an extra workout by pulling #4 up the trail.  After about 75 minutes of hiking, we reached the hot pools and were happy to discover that the groups of people at the lower falls didn't know about the upper hot pots.  We soaked in the sulfur water for a good hour.  Kent led the younger and more impressionable (read: gullible) of our children in dipping into the cold river water for three seconds before jumping back into the natural hot tub.  They tried to peer pressure me into it, arguing that it's invigorating and jump starts the immune system.  I withstood their claims and enjoyed the warm soak.

#4 enjoyed taking pictures on the trail back to the car.  I've included some of them here for your viewing pleasure.  Just kidding.  I can't figure out how to get them off the camera phone that she used.  Maybe I'll add them later.

The second part of our Adventure Day was to take the whole family out to eat.  Considering that the cost of one restaurant meal for the seven of us is almost as much as our weekly grocery bill, this is a rare activity indeed.  We had hoped to be out of the canyon in time to catch some food and chalk at the Festival of Colors in Spanish Fork; but alas, we were too hungry to figure out parking and tickets and the rest of the logistics to getting there.  Maybe next year.  (Doesn't this look fun?!)

After a good amount of bickering and listening to the opinions of children who didn't want to try new food, Kent and I decided to expose the children to Mongolian BBQ at HuHot Mongolian Grill.  This restaurant does Mongolian BBQ right with their all-you-can-eat grill line and entertaining grill chefs.  Everyone had fun choosing their own recipes and trying 25% of their 100+ drink options.  It was nice to finish a perfect afternoon of hiking with full bellies and healthy, mineral-soaked skin.

Mary and #3 attended the LDS General Women's meeting at our Stake Center for an uplifting and spiritual end to the day.  We're all looking forward to our next Adventure Day!  Maybe we'll bike the Provo River Trail, ride the Heber Creeper, or hunt for geodes.  Any suggestions?


Last night, our friends hosted an evening discussion about the topic of beauty and aesthetics.  Each person of the six couples was invited to watch some TED videos and to consider a list of questions on the topic.  Our homework was to bring something beautiful, an item for show-and-tell.

Several of us expressed the difficulty of deciding what represented beauty or struck us aesthetically.  At first, I found myself not knowing at all what I owned that I considered truly beautiful.  After a couple days thinking about what to share, the ideas started flowing and I ended up needing to narrow my selections three.  In my attempt to truncate my show-and-tell time, I looked deeper at the reasons that I was drawn to each item and discovered there were layers of meaning for each.  I liked each object for its own accord, but the meaning behind each item made them more beautiful to me.  Because there was interesting meaning behind each, and because they all differed in their beauty to me, I just shared all three.

Before I share them here, I will say that I was surprised by some of the items that my peers chose.  Most of the items I could also agree were beautiful, such as my friend's yellow African flowers.  A few people chose drawings made by their children, or other items that held sentimental value.  I can see why those items were chosen; but I found that sentimentality wasn't enough to raise an object to "beautiful" in my choices.  Others chose charming items that represented care and hard work on the part of the creator, such as needlepoint work on pillowcases.  In contrast, the items I chose represented skilled work from the creator, but unless the object itself rose above charming to fulfill a sense of the beautiful to my taste, I couldn't select it.  One of my friends brought a picture of hands and said she has always found hands to be beautiful and interesting as they often represent the owner's life.  I never would have considered a body part as one of my items.  I certainly think the human body is an amazing creation, but for me, no one part stands out as an indication of beauty across our species.

So what did I choose?

The first item I shared via email before our meeting, so I'll link it here too: 33 Unbelievable Places to Visit Before You Die.  This is a collection of photographs from some truly stunning places on this planet.  My sister, Christy, happened to share it on Facebook a day or two before our discussion group, and when one of the photos elicited an unbidden and whispered, "That's so beautiful!" as I scrolled through, I knew I had to share.

Reflective salt flat in Bolivia

Here is the one that surprised me with its beauty:

Colorful highlighting in the Reed Flute Caves, China

And one two more, for good measure.  (See?!!  Once I find beauty, I can't not share it!  You really should follow the link to see them all.)

Phytoplankton outdoing the starry sky on Vaadhoo Island, Maldives

Aerial view of rice fields on Ailao Mountain, China.  Christy and I are encouraging our youngest sister, Jenny, to craft a stained glass piece of this photograph.
I don't like these photographs just because of their composition or subject matter.  Their beauty lies in the unedited snapshot of places that really exist.  They represent the glory of our Creator in the work that He did to form this world for us, His children whom He loves so dearly.  I love that man's influence, though often touted as deleterious, can also make things more beautiful, as with the rice fields.  In LDS teaching, we learn that Adam, who was known as Michael in his premortal life, helped to create the earth.  Scripture teaches that when the creative work was finished, God recognized the good in His works and was pleased to give it to His children.  To me, these photos represent the glorious beauty of the earth and Heavenly Father's love for all of us.

One of the items I shared at the discussion group drew looks of surprise from my friends and a chuckle from Kent, who said, "This is so Mary."  I pulled out a folder holding a copy of the 2012 tax filing for A Child's Hope Foundation.  I'll admit that this item doesn't hold a lot aesthetically on its own, but I do find organization quite pleasing to look at, and this cleanly presented stack of papers does that for me.  More importantly, I explained that I've always been attracted to numbers.  In receiving my finance degree, I came to appreciate how numerical digits represent living organizations.  Numbers organized into financial statements and tax filings tell the story of an organization's work.  I spend hours every year ensuring that donations, expenses, payroll hours, etc. are recorded accurately and reflect what we did as a group to change people's lives for the better.  I am proud of that work and the processes I've created to connect with co-workers and volunteers to sustain my area of the foundation's work.  I love that all the work of a year can be summarized by numbers organized on lines on a tax report.  Beautiful!

The other item I brought to share was #4's violin.

The instrument itself is a thing of delicate beauty, a demonstration of form fulfilling function. It's craftsmanship is lovely, from the scroll to the bow.  I love its lines and curve, its rich wood color, and the way light gleams off its smooth surface.

As I said, though, the items I chose are beautiful for several reasons.  Certainly, I love the sweet notes that a violin can make, whether it's being used as a fiddle or a classical instrument.  Beyond that, I've always loved classical music because it reaches into my soul and speaks images to my mind even in the absence of lyrics.  Additionally, I love how good music can bring people together.  I invited my fellow discussants to watch this six-min. video, which communicates better than my writing the beauty that I experience through classical instruments.  (You may want to grab a tissue before watching the video.  My tears are always brimming by the end of the first minute, and they are streaming by the third.)  Watch the expressions of the onlookers as well as the musicians.

It's not just the effect of the flash mob that I love.  I love this Ode to Joy from Beethoven.  This piece has become a piece of world history as it has been played at most Olympic game closing ceremonies, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and as the European Union's anthem.  Even Everybody Loves Raymond and The Beatles have used its theme.  There is something about this piece, composed by Ludwig when he was almost completely deaf, that unites people around the world in a very beautiful way.

At our discussion, I was surprised at other reactions to our assignment.  One friend didn't bring an object, but shared a moment on a hike that reached him deeply.  Three others chose music.  The first shared a sampling, the second brought unopened records, and the third, Kent, didn't even share his because he thought no one else would connect with Flamenco the way he does.  I found it very interesting how people shared--or didn't share--their music, and I wondered if it was so personal to them that they feared being rebuffed for their tastes.  I don't know Kent's favorite Flamenco, but here is a sampling of the music and dance he finds beautiful:

I enjoyed our discussion of beauty as we weaved through everyone's show-and-tell.  I had written notes about my thoughts leading up to the discussion.  Somehow, in three hours' time, we never got around to talking about the TED videos or all my thoughts, so I'll share them here.
Richard Seymour, “How Beauty Feels” 
Dennis Dutton, “A Darwinian Theory of Beauty” 
Another source I looked to was Dr. Sebiha Al Khemir, who was the project director for the "Beauty and Belief" exhibit of Islamic pieces that came to BYU a while ago.  I agree with her statement that "Humanity needs to learn about each other, and crossing bridges with art is a very easy way to cross."  Another friend in the group showed one of her favorite paintings, which I happen to like, too.
Brian Kershisnik's "She Will Find What is Lost"
As Dr. Khemir suggests, I feel like I know my friend a little better knowing that she finds this piece beautiful.  We connect through aesthetics because beauty is a way of seeing and a way of being.
I realized through this assignment that not always, but often, I find beauty in the unexpected.  Something that may have once taken my breath away can become customary, as with these rock formations just outside of Utah:
Antelope Canyon, Arizona, USA
Because I live in the West, I've seen photographs from Antelope Canyon many times.  I do always agree that these are beautiful, but they are no longer stunningly so because I have become somewhat accustomed to them.  There has to be an element of surprise for something to take my breath away with its beauty.

The very basic question posed by our hosts was "What is beauty?"  In pondering this, I wrote a list of words that defined beauty for me: glory, order, meaning, light, and truth.  Beauty serves to lift our spirits, give us a taste of the divine, and communicate God's love for us and our love for each other.  When beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it helps similar beholders connect on a spiritual level.

Another quote from Dr. Khemir: "The shaping of beauty, the making of beauty, is directly connected to the divine, is directly connected to faith... Belief played a very important role in the shaping of beauty."  I was satisfied that our Friday-night discussion came to God a few times and to the way we feel His love through beauty.  My mind was drawn repeatedly to my experiences in LDS temples, and I found myself thinking of the Manti Temple.  Though all temples teach through the same symbols and ordinances, I am drawn to loving the Manti Temple because of it's sweet, humble people.  Beauty reaches beyond our physical senses to our sensibilities.  

As I discovered through the process of defining for myself the different layers of a beautiful object, beauty invites us to look closely and unravel what is there.  Sight leads to insight.  In the words of the Talmud: "We see things not as they are, but as we are."
What is it that you find beautiful?  Must beauty hold layers for you?  What does it have to represent: skill, love, light?  What words define beauty for you?
I'll leave you with this thought-provoking poem that our hosts shared: "One More Day" by Czeslaw Milosz.
And though the good is weak, beauty is very strong.
[Evil] sprawls, everywhere it turns into ash whole expanses of being,
It masquerades in shapes and colors that imitate existence 
And no one would know it, if they did not know that it was ugly. 
And when people cease to believe there is good and evil 
Only beauty will call them and save them 
So that they still know how to say: this is true and that is false.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Life in the Canyon

My friend, Gina, has been keeping a gratitude journal of sorts on Facebook this year.  When I occasionally open that site, I like to see the little moments in her life that make her happy and grateful.  Living in gratitude makes all the difference in a whole-souled life.

When our family works in Mexico, we have the opportunity to serve breakfast to families who live in the old dump in Tijuana.  The dump is a series of hills that forms a canyon, and that is the kind name for that neighborhood.  Really though, it's just a dump built into houses.  It amazes me each time I visit that this level of poverty is just minutes away from the wasteful wealth of Americans living a bountiful life in San Diego.  I do like seeing the ingenuity of people who build homes from others' unwanted items.  Even more, I love the gratitude and happiness of the people who live there.  My first time serving breakfast in the canyon, I was flattered by some young boys who brought me a tiny flower as a thank you gift.  They giggled shyly when I fawned over their gift and stuck the flower above my ear.

I've never visited any of the residents in their homes, but as I began reading the following account written by David Hessler, who runs the Breakfast Club there, I felt a burden of hopelessness.  I would not know where to start each day knowing that it was just another day to try to survive.  Yet these people manage to feed not just their families but also their spirits.  David's words at the end of his post chase away the hopelessness I feel on behalf of these people, because they aren't feeling it for themselves.  Instead, as he states, they choose to live with gratitude for the blessings God gives them and with a positive outlook for their lives.  I can attest that I have seen their smiles and their warmth in the short interactions I've had with them.  Because they don't feel sorry for themselves, I can be better at being grateful for the blessings I have too.

I hope you remember your own blessings as you read this description of Life in the Canyon, which was originally posted November 4, 2013 on the Life in the Canyon blog.

Imagine if you would, going to bed at night in the comfort of your home, in thenice house 1neighborhood where you currently live. Your digesting the huge dinner you had not long ago, the dishes are working their way through the dish water, the kids finally asleep in their rooms, the car alarm set and the truck is secured away in the garage. The coffee maker set so that the aroma in the morning provides incentive to get out of bed. The dogs have settled into their beds glancing up wondering how long you are going to be in the shower before tucking yourself in. All the while trying not to think about all the things you have to do tomorrow; school, lunches, traffic, paying the utility bills, work, meetings, dinner, back to school night….
…. and then waking up in the Canyon.
No need for an alarm clock, the Roster’s have you up well before any sense of normalcy. It’s not the aroma of coffee you smell. It’s the smell of mold and mildew from the previousIMG_6749rains that have soaked the pieces of carpet on the dirt floor. Your eyes open to the gaps of space in the roof trying to determine if the sun is up yet. Your back aches from the old mattress lying on a piece of wood. You look over to see your children sleeping in bed next to you and on the small love seat that you found discarded along the roadway. As you place your feet on the ground, you look around to see what lies ahead of you today. There’s no need to move, everything is just aIMG_6752few feet away. Except for the bathroom, which might be an outhouse if your lucky or a bucket if not.
You look over at the small cook stove in the corner of the room. Last nights rice and beans still coat the pans they were reheated in. The two plastic cups that everyone shared drinking from, rest on top. No refrigerator to look in, no cupboard to search for what might be available to cook. Actually no food at all. That’s something to work out a little later on.
Looking at the water jugs sitting below the dishes, you remember why last nights pans are still sitting there. There was no water left in the jugs to wash them with. Which means there’s no water to wash with. Looking at the drinking water jug, you see there is only aIMG_8969few inches remaining. Which do I need to go get first? Do I wake one of the children to help me, or do I just venture off on my own attempting to carry two 5 gallon containers of water the mile and a half away. Maybe it’s best if I just head out on my own. It will give me time to think about how I might find work today.
Meanwhile, mom wakes up to the same sights and smells. Her thoughts gradually gravitate to realizing that the children need to get ready for school. Their school uniforms have notIMG_7711been washed in 2 days, but if they can get through today, laundry will be on the list of things to do. Noticing that her husband is gone along with the water jugs, she hopes he will not be upset when she asks him to go fill the jugs again so that she can wash clothes. But from her perspective, thinking about how long it will take her to scrub everything by hand and the time it will take to air dry the clothes hanging on the fence, she figures he is getting the better part of the deal.
She chooses which of the children to wake first, based on the degree of difficulty it requiresIMG_6744 to get them ready. The 5 gallon paint bucket filled with rain water, serves as the shower. The children try to run as the cold water is poured over them. Unable to escape, standing there shivering as mom soaps them up, waiting for the next dowsing of water over their head. And then on to the next child…..
Before she is finished, the younger ones are saying, “mom, I’m hungry.” How many creative ways can you come up with to hold off their hunger for just a little while more. Knowing that their father will most likely stop to pick up tortillas on his way back. Hopefully he will have enough to buy warm ones today instead of the cold day old ones that are half the price. As she puts their back packs together, gathering up the books and supplies lying around from the day before,her thoughts go to how to make lunches for them. Nothing here today, but there’s still time to put something together and return to the school later on.
Dad returns dripping with sweat as he places both water jugs on the ground. He retrieves the packet of tortillas from his waistband and smiles as he pulls an avocado from his front pocket. Quickly slicing it up into the tortillas as the children surround him with their hands raised in the air. With a few drops of hot sauce, the kids are feed and ready for the walk to school. Dad advises them to be careful as their was rain during the night and the IMGP0161ground outside has turned to mud. Mom wonders if there will be school, knowing that most families will decide not to go today. But knowing how important it is for them to have a chance at a different life, off they go on their 5 mile hike to 3 different schools.
As they arrive at the front gates of each of the schools, all the other children arrive at the same time. Some by car. Mom’s thoughts go to wondering what it would be like to be able to live somewhere where you could have a car and how that life might be. She sometimes thinks about how she is dressed in comparison to the other mom’s and tends to slink away from the others out of embarrassment. But reality soon takes over and her thoughts return to getting back home so that she can figure out what to make them for lunch and then the return trips to the school in just a couple of hours. She looks at the store next door where children line up buying what they will need for lunch thinking about how much easier that would be. However, there is no money for that today, so she starts on her way back home.
When she returns, she finds two small packets of rice and beans next to the cook stove. Scrawled in pencil on a torn piece of paper is a note from her husband. He was able to go with a neighbor to catch a ride to the garbage dump to work for the day. If things worked out well, he would return at night fall with enough money to buy food for dinner and maybeIMGP0227for the next day. If he were able to do this a second day, maybe there would be enough money to buy a candle or two so they could have lights at night. Quickly washing the pans, she prepares the rice and beans and makes burritos for the children’s lunch and for herself. No time to wash the pans again. She needs to hike back to the schools again to bring them lunch. This time she brings one of the 5 gallons jugs so that on her way back she can stop at the Pilar and fill it up for free so that she can do the laundry. Upon returning home, she only has a short amount of time before she has to return to school again to gather the children up for the walk home. It’s only just noon.
When the children are home, they all want to go play. Mom explains that there will be time for that later, but right now they need to help her with the laundry. The children are each assigned a different task of washing, rinsing, scrubbing or hanging. Some tasks can be more fun than others, but not really what they had in mind. When they are finished, they areIMG_0147hoping that now they can go play. However, mom has a different idea. It’s time for homework. Wishing that they might be able to just do it on their own, but knowing that now it’s time for mom to be a school teacher. So everyone goes inside to lay their books out on the bed. (There’s no kitchen table.) Motivation comes in the form of encouraging them to finish so that they CAN go and play. Mom’s motivation is that maybe she will get just a little time to herself along with hoping that the activity will keep their mind off of being hungry for a couple more hours until Dad get’s home.
Then mom remembers that it’s Thursday. The day she hosts Bible Study with some of the other mom’s who live close by. She likes this time together with others who think like she does. It’s a time of gratitude for the blessings that they have in their lives. Thankful for husbands who spend their time looking for work to take care of their families and not outAliciadrinking and doing drugs. Thankful for all of their children and they are healthy and not in need of medicine or treatment. Grateful that they were able to eat today and had water to drink. And grateful for the opportunity to study God’s word, but mostly for the love that he shows them. And a time to pray for their needs, which gives them hope. For some, it’s the glue that keeps them together.
Just before dark, Dad returns. Although he is visibly tired and dirty, he’s in a good mood. He had a good day. He was able to cover all the costs of working today and made enough to buy food for this evening as well as a little bit for tomorrow. The people he went with promised him a ride again tomorrow which gives him hope of being able to buy something more than just food and water; the candles that his wife mentioned and maybe gas for the cook stove. The week was looking up….
A small fire burns outside to heat up some water for Dad to wash up with and also for the dishes. The morning promises to be a little easier than it was today. The family visits together for awhile and then Dad spends some time reading from the Bible to the children before bed. Not what they really had in mind, but they are happy to have Dad spend time with them and it does make them a little sleepy. Luckily for Mom and Dad as they put them all in their bed, hoping they will fall asleep soon. Darkness surrounds them, but the fire outside provides a little light to see inside. The dogs go to their places on top of the roof to keep an eye out for passer’s by who they may feel the need to protect their territory. Finally it’s time for Mom and Dad to move the children over so they can find room to sleep in anticipation of new opportunities tomorrow.
When I wrote this, there were specific families that I was thinking of.  The thing that has impacted me the most, is the sense of gratitude that each of these families show each day.  They are so grateful for their families, for the work that God provides their men, for the food that God provides for their children, for all of the things that they are blessed with each day.  They are so positive in their outlook on life which is reflected in the smiles on their children’s faces.   These families also serve each day at their Church.  I often hear them saying how when they serve others for just a few hours, God blesses them all day long.
They are such a powerful example for others to see and an inspiration to me each day.

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Family of Entrepreneurs

When I was working on my degree at BYU, I was intrigued by entrepreneurship.  The business bug actually bit me in first grade when I started my first business selling rocks.  After collecting a dozen choice rocks as big as I could carry, I washed them, loaded them in my wagon, and went door to door selling them for a nickel each.  I think I made ten cents.  My marketing savvy kicked in with my next venture when I created business cards for my ghost protection services.  I drew pictures on index cards and promised to keep gouls away from the bedroom I shared with my sisters.  (As children of the 80s, Ghostbusters and Unsolved Mysteries, not to mention living in an old house, frightened our imaginations.)  I made $2--I think my parents made me give that money back.  As I got older, the businesses became more viable until my sister and I were making good money selling snacks at weekend soccer games.

When I entered college, I knew I wanted to study Business Management and Finance.  But the entrepreneurship bug lingered, so I took a couple of classes in that area.  One of my favorite courses was a class of about 20 students, which was co-taught by Larry H. Miller, one of Utah's most successful entrepreneurs.  It was great to learn from him and his experiences.  However, that class also turned my focus back toward corporate management.  The big project for the term was a 20-page self-evaluation about passions, dreams, goals, and personality.  The assessment worksheets provided by the professor helped me realize that I was a very risk-averse person, and starting businesses would therefore bring me more worry and stress than it was worth.

Instead of setting out to be a serial entrepreneur, I ended up marrying one.  At the time, I thought I was marrying a future college professor; but about two-and-half years later, as Kent was finishing his bachelor degree, he realized he was burnt out on school and wanted to do something else.  We've bounced around ever since.  Kent worked a handful of jobs and gradually found that he really enjoys being self-employed and building businesses.  In fact, his most recent project is as a consultant for other business owners.  He usually has two or three projects that he's working on at any given time, and we each have twice that many projects brewing in our heads.  This lifestyle used to stress me out, but I learned about 12 years ago that if we are generous in our giving with tithes and fast offerings, the Lord watches over us.  Even when finances are really tight, we still have everything we need.   As our children get older, Kent and I have more time to work together on professional projects.  My fearful, risk-averse self has taken a back seat, and I am enjoying this entrepreneurial ride.

It's a good thing, too, because we are becoming a household of entrepreneurs.  (Thanks to The Daily Herald for writing the next section of this post, which is an article in today's paper.  Click on the link for the full article because I've removed portions.  Lest you think I infringe on copyrights, these are my own photos that I took at last night's event.)

PROVO - Ten teams of young people, ages 12-18, made pitches for new businesses to a panel of investors Thursday. The event was the Investor Panel portion of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy.
You want to rent a modest prom dress? Check. Are you at a soccer game and are cold and hungry and would like some hot soup? Check. Need to locate the mustard powder at your local grocery store? Check.
These young business people have you covered for those needs and others.
The Young Entrepreneurs Academy is a national organization and this is the first year there has been one in Utah County. It is sponsored by the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce. The students are in week 19 of a 30-week program.
Students applied for positions in the academy and have been attending three hours of classes on Thursdays after school since fall. There are various teachers who present information about starting businesses, and there are also mentors who help them put their business plans in order. More than 100 people volunteered in the effort.
The students, by themselves or with a team, presented their business ideas to a panel of investors, who were charged with distributing $6,000 to one or more of the potential companies... Each of the proposed companies received a portion of the funding.
One company which has already started its work is Bibbity Bobbity Dresses [sp], that has had formal dresses donated to them, which they rent to others who don't want the expense of purchasing a dress they will perhaps only wear once. Sisters Kassidy White, 15, and Madelyn White, 13, run the business, and they were looking to expand.
The investors awarded them $600 for that effort.
Kent White, their father, said it has been a good experience for the family.
"I am a business owner," he said. "What this has done has helped my children's education considerably. They came up with it. It has created a tremendous difference, allowing us to talk about business together. It is a tremendous program. I think it will change my [family's] trajectory forever."
The oldest two aren't our only entrepreneurial spawn.  #3, who also enjoys science, started research last summer to figure out how to build a bicycle that stores the energy from pedaling.  She is also considering what she could do through Young Entrepreneurs Academy.  I am hopeful she'll develop a business around a product I created six years ago that I have never brought to market because of patent costs.  It's a simple product, and with the right mentors and investors, I think she could be quite successful with it.
#4 spent her birthday money on a loom and supplies to make loop bracelets, like this:
So far she has one loyal customer who has bought $31 worth of dollar bracelets.  #4 is looking to expand her customer base.  Feel free to contact her for bracelets to give as party favors or small prizes.  She loves to work on custom designs.

Then there's #5 who takes after his dad as a miniature salesman.  He's been going door-to-door this month looking for sponsors for his school walk-a-thon.  Be careful if you sponsor him, because he's planning to put his running talent to use to rack up more laps than any other kid at school.  Next month, when his fingernails are a little longer, we expect he'll be going door-to-door selling his back-scratching service.