t h e m a y f i l e s is foremost a family blog, chronicling everyday life. Life including natural, healthy eating (with recipes thrown in at random), home educating (with ideas popping up sporadically), an attempt to homestead on .2 acres (with very meager yields), raising 3 of 4 children with a rare genetic disorder, and lots of highly personal family triumphs and failures. You may also find an eclectic array of musings on politics, exercise, sewing, emergency preparedness, backyard chickens, and religion. This blog isn't a campaign to glorify anyone or anything. Just simply a record.


Family Strength after the Firestorm

I write to you from Canada. My Dad is from here (Southern Alberta). It has been a family tradition to visit for a big family reunion over the 1st of July (their 4th of July). This year was also marked special by the celebration of my grandparents 60th wedding anniversary. Family traveled from all over the world to be here.

The Firestorm

On Friday afternoon, as we were packing up things getting ready to go, we received a phone call. A phone call you never imagine you will get. My aunts house burnt to the ground. In the massive conflagration it was a miracle no one was killed. The Lord was truly watching over their family. There was not even a moment to grab a photo album or family heirloom. In fact, all of the family history was in the house as my aunt was preparing a special book/presentation/video for the celebration.

Priceless items are lost forever. But what was not lost was that which is most precious, life. The home will be rebuilt. The clothes replaced. In the immediate aftermath it wasn't clear if the reunion should continue (my aunt lives down the street from my grandparents). But amidst the grieving the decision was made to continue.

So here I sit in Canada. It has never been so clear to me what is important in life. If my neighbor called me and told me my house burnt to the ground, I don't think I would lose much. There will continue to be grieving and rebuilding but family and the strength we draw from one another after the firestorms of life, this is where joy and peace come from.


Westminster Clambake

Tonight Brent and I had a great opportunity to speak at a fund raising event for Westminster College. Brent just finished his MBA there this Spring. He had fabulous experience in the program, and the money we won in the business plan competition gave us the cash to make our first tooling and order our first Cap Trappers for marketing.

Writing a business plan is a fantastic practice for anyone trying to start a business. It forced us to think through our strategies and to evaluate the market and financial aspects. After 2 solid months of working on the plan, it was clear the need existed and the idea was viable. It also allowed us to apply the concepts and principles we had been learning. I say "we" because I was his study buddy through the program. We decided instead of putting a strain on our marriage by all the time away, I would do the program with him. I read the books and we discussed and did homework, papers and projects together. (I still need to talk to them about an honorary degree :) !)

We were asked to speak at this event at the President's home, to discuss our experiences, and the future of our company. It was a high class event with lobsters flown in from Maine that morning! I saw them put them into the boiling bed of seaweed and squirm around as they slowly cooked to death. Needless to say, I did not have lobster! We got to hobnob with very prominent professionals in the Salt Lake area. Brent was a charmer of course, especially with the old ladies!

I connected with the President, Michael Bassis and his wife Mary. They met on an Outward Bound adventure. Twelve years ago I backpacked in the San Juan Mountains in Colorado for 30 days with Outward Bound. It was a life changing experience. But that is for a different post.

Brent and I plan to stay connected with the college. Hopefully we will someday be members of the Presidents Innovation Network ($10,000 yearly contribution minimum). There is something really neat about small colleges. Something we found lacking in our undergraduate experiences.


Household Entropy

It seems the last month all the "things" in my life have been moving at an accelerated pace towards entropy. If you are unfamiliar with the term, it harks back to my Science days. It is a law of physics which, in a nut-shell, states that everything in the universe is moving from an ordered to a disordered state.

Here is a list of the acceleration towards entropy in my life:

  • After months of knowing it would happen, and trying to keep Pip and El out of the "underwater soothing bouncer" (you all know it, the blue one that was the huge rage 5 years ago) it broke. The metal just bent in half. I guess it really does have a weight limit.
  • The camera finally completely stopped working. This one has been in the works for about a year. I think it started the afternoon, against all my better judgment, I let the girls do their own photo shoot. It hasn't been the same since. It began with a large black dot on the lens that seemed to rotate every couple months. Then the center of every picture had a large blurry spot. Miraculously it cured itself for a couple months and now it just decided to give in to entropy and stop working.
  • The razor phone is no more. After 4 replacements which had absolutely nothing to do with my careless nature, this one was my pure brilliance. I thought an effective way to wash the makeup off my phone would be to run it through the washing machine. I have been holding out hope it would dry up and start working, (it seems everyone I know has a story of leaving their phone in a blizzard, dropping it in the toilet...and they resurrect back to life) but it was not to be with mine. It is very clean. Do yourself a favor, check your jeans pockets before you do the wash.
  • And finally, as the icing on the cake, I ran over my stroller. This was no small run over. Somehow I managed to crush the frame. Again in a moment of brilliance I thought I could bend it back in shape. I jumped and bent and twisted. I was certain it would still work. So I brought it to the mall. When we reached the furthest point possible away from our car, the wheel fell off. What I mean by this is the metal bar on which the wheel is attached actually broke off. So in one arm I was carrying my car seat, the other arm my stroller, all the while trying to hold Ellery's hand, as she panics if a car or stranger comes near, and trying to explain to Callista who refused to budge off the ground why I couldn't hold her, and why she couldn't ride in the stroller. It was one of my better moments for sure. Where were all those gallant gentlemen offering to help me?

So there it is. Am I the only one these things happen to? I am going to try to reassure myself that the law of entropy applies to all mothers in the universe, not just me.


Summertime Baths

Brent has taken to bathing the girls in the backyard hose at night. It is amazing what gluttons for punishment they are. The pictures show them with a small princess umbrella as their only line of defense. This was after I encouraged them to use it. Brent had convinced them that tennis rackets were a perfect shield. He found it quite hilarious.

The baths do seem to leave a few stray pieces of grass randomly stuck to their bodies. I still can't get over how Brent can squirt an adorable, shivering little thing like this?

I think Ellery would be fine with being squirted all day long. In fact the hose at our house gets quite a bit of use. Our two little neighbor boys have taken to spying in our windows. When Brent catches them at it, he launches a full scale water attack. The poor little guys go home drenched. Somehow I don't think the water war is acting as a deterrent to the spying!


Deseret News Feature

Click on this link to check out this fun little article in the Deseret News today from the Imagination at Play museum premier. This was the front page of the Family section. This is an excellent segment to be in. Our other publicity in the papers was in the Business sections. This location will reach our target customers better.

The quotes were a little odd, and the story small.

"Rebecca Davidson needed to solve a problem. "I love to do art activities with my kids, and we like to use markers. But I would get so frustrated because it seemed like the caps would get lost or get left off the markers and they would dry out. I thought, there has to be a better way.

She began making clay models of a simple holder. Made of silicone, it comes in a strip with places for four, eight or 10 markers. "You can do them in a loop or string them together. They are portable. We are just starting to bring them to market. But I think they will save a lot of time."

I think I sound a bit uneducated,(which I don't feel I am)and the Cap Trapper is very difficult to see in the picture, but oh well. All publicity is good publicity! And Emmett finally got his picture in the paper. And there is definitely no missing his bald head (or my wrinkles for that matter).


Daddy Daughter Exchange

I overheard this little conversation between Brent and Ellery in the bathroom.

Ellery: Dad I wish I was a man.

Brent: Why is that Ellery.

Ellery: I want to have whiskers.

Brent: Why do you want whiskers?

Ellery: I want to use that shaving thing (electric razor).

Brent: When you get big you can shave your legs. Mom's shave their legs but little girls don't need to.

Ellery: I hope I have whiskers when I get big Dad.

If she ever does end up with whiskers, Heaven forbid, she will be cursing the day she had this exchange :)


Pebbles in my Pocket

I had the opportunity to meet with Brenda, the owner of Pebbles in my Pocket. This is a local chain of scrapbooking stores. Brenda was way ahead of her time in starting this store. She began 16 years ago, long before scrapbooking and crafting is what it is today. In fact my neighbor (her sister-in-law) says they laughed at her for the idea. Guess who's laughing now!

Brenda was intrigued by Cap Trappers. I think she feels the will be a good fit in her stores. I gave her 10 or so to try out in their classrooms to get some feedback. I'm excited to see how scrapbookers feel about Cap Trappers.

I should hear back in a couple weeks. I never have been a sales person. But what is really interesting is, that when I totally believe in something, it doesn't feel like a sales job at all.


Homeschool Summer Schedule

A few weeks ago as summer was beginning I decided I needed to provide some sort of structure for my girls. Otherwise they just run wild all day from house to house on our street. Their little group of kiddos go from backyard to basement to driveway to kitchen at 4 different houses. Of course the kitchen being frequented multiple times each round! I am a firm believer in unstructured play. I want my children to creative and free spirited. However, I also wanted them to have some structure.

So we began every morning our little "homeschool" schedule. Here's how it plays out.

5:30-7:30 AM - Mom Exercises

My personal, private, extremely crucial exercise time. This morning I ran 8 miles. Yesterday I biked 18. Sometimes I squeeze in some pilates (Rael System 27 is my absolute favorite) or lifting.

6:15-7:15 AM - The rest of the family wakes up.

Brent situates them with "Ellery's Cereal" (frosted miniwheats) and their daily allotments of gummy vitamins and PBS cartoons.

7:30-9:00 AM - Breakfast, showers, "get ready for the day" time

8:30-9:00 AM - Brent leaves for work

9:00-10:00 - We recover the house from the morning.

This is a constant amazement to me. I am one of those people who can't go to bed with a cluttered house. So every morning we wake up to a clean house (don't get me wrong that doesn't mean the toilets are scrubbed and the floor's mopped). But somehow by the time I return from exercising and finish breakfast polly pockets are covering nearly every square inch of my kitchen, the chairs are lined up in a train, all the shoes have been removed from the basket and are filled with barbies and polly's, doubling as "cars" and each child has had at least 2 separate bowls of cereal. This time also includes laundry. Lots of laundry.

10:00-11:15 AM Pre-school time

We start by memorizing a scripture verse. I am amazed at the memories of my girls. They pick things up so fast. I always want to make time for the Lord in our lives. It is crucial my children grow up understanding the importance of being spiritually grounded.

Then Callista and I work on handwriting. She is learning C's. I tried A's with her but it was way to over her head. (I have to mention through our entire learning time she refuses to call me mom instead she calls me "teacher." I never asked her to do this, Ellery doesn't do this. But she is dead serious about it. It is adorable.)

Ellery reads to me. Often we trade lines or pages so it doesn't get frustrating. Today we read "Pete's Big Wish." (I use the Frontline Phonics program. I have loved it. I haven't followed it exactly but the general program is great. The books are the best.)

Next we do workbooks. I just bought a bunch from Costco at the beginning of the Summer. I especially like the Hooked on Phonics ones. Callista colors in Ellery's old workbook. Of course our Cap Trappers keep us totally organized!

Finally I read to them out of our big special book. Hopefully my mom is not reading this because I snagged this book from her house. I grew up with my Dad reading to me out of it. It is a wonderful book full of actual children's literature. (Somehow the Dora books from the library don't qualify. But there is definitely a place for them in reading. I can't even begin to count the number of Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew books I read growing up.)

Callista usually is doing my hair as I read. This can be extremely painful as the princess curling iron and scissors have a tendency to pull the most tender hairs from my head. But Ellery is usually captivated by the stories. Today we read
"The Story of the Enchanted Horse" from The Arabian Nights. With words like "impudent" and a "suppliant prince" I can't help but feel like this is an enriching activity!

11:15 - 12:30 Lunch and Activity/Work

Today we made bread. I love to bake bread. I will do a post on it next week when I make it. Nothing beats homemade bread. Callista can barely keep her fingers out of the bowl from the moment we start. She loves the dough!

Brent comes home for lunch so I also usually squeeze in some emails and phone calls during lunch.

We make a yummy lunch and eat it together.

12:30-3:00 Run Wild

The girls play with their friends to their little hearts desire.

3:00- 3:30 - Quiet time

I try to bring them home to rest. But usually it just ends up with them jumping on their beds upstairs.

3:30-5:00 PM More Crazy Play time

5:30 PM We eat dinner

6:00-7:00 PM Time for Bed!

7:00 PM Let the work and fun Begin!

That is basically how it goes. Some changes. But overall it is the same.


Home Again

I am officially well-rested, farmer-tanned, and wind-blown from a fabulous week in Lake Tahoe. We had a great time with Brent's family. I wasn't sure if I would ever be able to pry my children out of the roof-top hot-tub where they spent almost every waking minute.

They also colored, and of course used their cap trappers. Their cousins loved them, and everyone left with their own. I felt like a bit of a dead-beat though. I did pretty much nothing. It is good to be productive again.

I don't know if I have mentioned the painfully long timeline I am facing with my retailers and distributors. I have quite a few companies interested, especially in the school supply arena (our first main target). That is all great, the painful part is right now they are looking at things for their 2009 catalogs. Basically not this fall but the following year. I know they have teachers demoing cap trappers and the feed back has been fantastic. It will all come about eventually. I am confident.

****** wrote, and it appears the segment has been put on hold indeterminately. Doesn't sound good. If you've seen the show recently you will notice the facelift. In fact, the whole channel had a facelift. I hope they revisit the idea and decide to move forward with it. But for now, I and 4 other small businesses are waiting. At least I am not waiting without acting!


Surviving a Road Trip with Kids

Imagine sitting atop a beautiful deck and gazing over the emerald green, sapphire blue hues of Lake Tahoe. That is what I am doing right now.

My camera is broken so I have no way to prove it. I will be lazily enjoying myself here all week. So my blog entries will probably be sparse.

However....we made it here...all 9 1/2 hours. It wasn't too torcherous. Cap Trappers function beautifully in the car. So organized...not falling on the ground....if only I could solve someway to make it so Pip doesn't cover her entire body in marker when I turn my back!

So with the cap trappers, I only had to turn around about every 30 seconds, instead of every ten seconds to be at my children's beck and call. Emmett was surprisingly the easiest traveler of the bunch. He just cooed and slept and pooped. What an angel!

I will try and get this camera fixed to send some pictures, because it is so beautiful here....I want you all to feel jealous :)

Also be sure you buy lots of cap trappers for you summer road trip. It really does allow for survival. And I am only a little bit biased.


A Night at the Museum

We had a fantastic time at the museum on Friday. It was fun to be whisked around as a mock celebrity. My girls were excited because we had gold VIP wristbands (as opposed to white) what could be cooler? Ray Grant, the man running the show, was so kind and attentive. The museum staff loved the Cap Trappers. They were so excited they are putting them everywhere they use markers in the museum as well as the gift shop.

It is a wonderful exhibit. I recommend it to anyone in the Salt Lake City area. Your children will love making the fog horns, and wearing the goofy inventor glasses! The Deseret News interviewed me and so maybe we will have a little publicity there.

I had to take a picture of the strewn marker cap on the ground and these disasterous markers. The museum needs cap trappers! And they knew it too.


Invention at Play

Yesterday I was invited to be a VIP guest (I know it makes me sound extremely important, don't be fooled) tonight at the Sneak Preview of the Invention at Play exhibit at the Children's Discovery Museum at the Gateway. I love this museum. If you have never taken your children you need to! The exhibit officially opens on Saturday and runs through the end of August. It is a traveling exhibit sponsored by the Smithsonian Institute. I am very honored to be asked to attend.

The idea of the exhibit is to foster an influx of creativity and entrepreneurial spirit in Utah. The director of the museum saw the article in the Salt Lake Tribune about Cap Trappers and thought the story epitomized "invention at play." And really it does. The only reason I came up with this idea was from playing and teaching children.

I'll let you know how it goes tonight.


The Shocking Disappearance of My Spudman Trophy

Two years ago I had no idea there would be any purpose in having multiple pairs of running shoes. Now however, you see my 3 pairs I am currently rotating. And actually I need some new ones. I've been told if I run in the same pair of shoes over and over again, day after day, it's not a good thing. For me, or for my shoes.

If I rotate, each gets a little break, to literally get its spring back. My favorite pair are my Mizuno Wave Riders. I love them. Every time I buy a pair of running shoes at least one pair is a Wave Rider. Brent can't understand this. He is all about getting the pair that look cool.

The big thing looming ahead...finally my first marathon! I'll be running the St George Marathon in October. My plans last summer were foiled. I was set to run the Deseret News Marathon. I finished a 20 mile run in the morning, 3 weeks before the big day, and that afternoon found out I was pregnant. My doctor said I could still run if I took it easy. He obviously doesn't understand my personality. When it comes to me and races, there is no such thing as taking it easy. Unfortunately I have always been an extremely competitive person. Thankfully, mostly just with myself. I do like to win. Since this is the honest blog, I'll just come out and say it.

Before my big marathon though, I am competing in the Burley Spudman Triathlon. I am really much better at triathlons, but they aren't as intriguing for me. The Spudman is my traditional triathlon. I only do one a year but I love this one. It will be a bit different having such a young baby. I wonder if they will let me feed him at the transition stations. Ha Ha. I won my age group the last time I participated. My mom is still distraught I gave to charity the extremely large, fakely bronzed potato man trophy. I know, shocking! I'm approaching the spudman with a bit of internal agony. Knowing I am not in the best shape right now. I do have an excuse with my stomach being cut open and a small child retrieved only 3 months ago. But still, knowing I won once and I am not in a position to do it again, difficult for this ultra-competitive girl to swallow.

It isn't always about winning. But winning sure is fun.

Another note. We already booked the plane tickets to Boston for the Boston Marathon. If that isn't personal pressure, I'm not sure what is!

Anyways...after the rambling and back to the original premise, I will be rotating a lot of shoes this summer!

The Great Hummingbird Rescue

Today I saw a hummingbird land. I have never witnessed it before in my life. I was sitting on my porch feeding Emmett, and I heard a whirrrring above me. I looked up and before I knew it a hummingbird darted through my front door. The poor little thing beat against our front windows for probably 15 minutes. He exerted tremendous effort beating against the glass, certain he could escape. But as tough as that little guy was, it got him nowhere, especially not to those yummy flowers dripping with nectar!

Brent tried shooing him out but this hummingbird was determined he knew the way. As I watched him, I have to admit I was totally mesmerized throughout this entire episode, he landed on the top of the double hung sill, as if panting for breath. Then he would shoot himself up again with renewed vigor. Against the same glass.

Finally to our little friends fortune, he fell down far enough to find the open window below him. In a moment he zipped away, literally into the sunset.

The moral of the story. Don't beat against the glass. It will get you nowhere. Of course "you" is always referring to "me," but it feels a lot easier to say "you."
Never assume you know more than the large man with the fly swatter trying to point you in the right direction. (I have no idea what or who the large man with the fly swatter represents. Annd of course large is relative because Brent is not large man. ) I better make sure I am not exertig large amounts of precious energy beating against a window. I don't think I am. But then again neither did the hummingbird!


Swimming With Your Eyes Wide Open

Ellery and Callista take these amazing swimming lessons. They cost me an arm and a leg but they are so worth it! My children started out completely at peril in the water. For 4 weeks, MTWF, for only 10 minutes they were coached by an amazing teacher Pam. If anyone ever understood their craft it is Pam. She taught petrified Callista to float safely and peacefully on her back. Both of my children now have a "safety place" to go to if they are ever afraid in the water.

A big part of this swimming program is teaching the children to swim with their eyes open underwater. By doing so they become more comfortable and aware. They can see where the bottom is and which way they need to go to safely get to the surface or wall. With this simple skill of opening their eyes they can experience the water with more confidence.

It isn't always comfortable to open your eyes underwater. In fact it stings. But for part of the lesson they are required to not wear goggles. Then finally they can put them on. Callista loves her goggles so much in fact she can often be found wearing for major portions of the day.

I think sometimes I get very excited things, but when plunged in the water I shut my eyes and start floundering. With this ****** experience, I am actually very glad it has been postponed. I would have flown to **** and stepped on the elevator with my eyes squished shut. I think the result would have been a lot of floundering.

The past week has afforded me the chance to better train myself to swim underwater with my eyes open. I have gained inside information that is invaluable to me for survival. Some of the information stings a bit, but most of it is just making me more and more confident to move forward.

I now have several accounts in the works, and they could be pretty big. BUT...if I have learned anything it is to not count anything as a done deal until it is done. So I have my goggles on right now and I am pretty comfortable under the water. I may need to take them off again. It might sting a bit. If I do go to *****, which the producer is assuring me that I am, that this delay has nothing to do with me, I feel much better equipped to do so. To enjoy my time and if I was set up for a fall....at least I have my eyes open and know how to quickly get to the wall!


Friends and Business on Skype

The world is so small. We aren't all that different. These are 2 things I have learned in the last 6 months. As I was contacting and trying to find the best manufacturer to make my product I corresponded with so many different people. I used email and skype. It was interesting using just those 2 mediums how I could get a feel for personalities. It was important for me to find someone who I actually enjoyed talking with and trusted with my business. Someone responsive and friendly. I knew I found that person when I met Sadie.

Sadie and I have spoken almost every night on Skype for the last 6 months. Not just about business but about life. It is interesting the similar struggles people all over the world have. It is mostly business but every once in while we talk about family, food, interests....

Everybody out there is just trying to make it. Each of us in our way. While making our way it is great to find friends. Sadie is only one of many friends I have made in this endeavor. And each one of them has added something of value to my life.