Thursday, September 29, 2022

Ethical Guardrails (Guideposts)

Nine years ago one of my boys decided that he could drive our family vehicle faster than road conditions allowed.  He ended up spinning out of control, crossed the lane of traffic once and hit the guardrail.

 Then he spun around again, tagged the guardrail with the other end of the vehicle.

Finally the vehicle crossed back over both lanes of traffic to end up backward in a ditch.  Goodbye family vehicle.  Fortunately our son escaped unhurt.  It was then I noticed the miracle.  The Guardrail was our miracle.  On the other side of it was the Snoqualamie River.  Had those guardrails not been there he would have ended up in the river two different times and the outcome could have been tragic.  Nearly 30 feet of guardrail was destroyed by our vehicle but they did their job.

This week in my entrepreneurial class we learned about ethics.  In 'Making a Living and a Life' by Elder Lynn G. Robbins he gave grades for levels of acquiring wealth.  A-Level grades are given to people whose primary motivation is lifting others or love of God and fellow man and the secondary motivation is earning money.  B-Level is where the motivations are flipped.  C-Level is the love of money is the primary motivation and the secondary motivation is an indifference to clients and customers.  Then there is Level D where there is no regard at all for distress and harm to customers.  

We also discussed how our core values and spirituality correspond so closely with how we practice our professions.  We need to be congruent in both our personal, spiritual, and professional lives.  Hence the scripture 'No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.  Ye cannot serve God and mammon.' Matthew 6:24

I'd like to think of sticking to those core values as my guardrails, my guideposts.  This week was our first test of those values.  In signing the lease for our new store we wanted to put into writing that we wouldn't be open on Sunday.  The owners of the property felt it was important to be open on Sunday.  In fact they own the one and only mall in Utah that is open on Sunday.  Of the two malls in Utah County it is the mall that is doing so much poorer.  Less patrons, stores etc.  Coincidence?  They are affordable and have space for us which is why we choose to pursue this lease.  Needless to say, if we do take that location and refuse to open on Sunday then we will be charged an extra $500 a month.  So staying true to our keeping the Sabbath Day Holy is going to cost us an additional $500 a month.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely.  I really want all the blessings I can get and living an ethical life and business is worth the price.  

One of my other challenges in business is rationalization.  I think to myself, 'Well, if they aren't playing fair(competitors), then neither will I."  It's tempting to not stick to my word when someone else who has promised you something doesn't stick to theirs.  But I realize that the only person I hurt is myself when I break my word.  We've been hurt by the decisions of other when it comes to business and our opinion of them drops.  However, we've been blessed beyond measure by others in our business who openly collaborate with us and keep their word.  I want to be a blessing to others as well.  I feel there is family of merchants whose policy is 'lets help lift each other.'  We lift each other at the same time.

Here are my business Guardrails.

I will never stoop to a lower level even when dealing with someone else who does.

I will never work on Sundays.

I will never put business above my family.

I will always strive to be honest in my dealings with my fellowman.

I will always look for ways to innovate and make the process of business faster without compromising quality or I'll always try to be a lifelong learner.

I will always try to be a team player and build up those around me.

By doing this I feel I will be able to protect myself and my family business from tragic mistakes.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Never to late to Dream.

 When I was 13-years-old I built my first (Dream) tree house by myself. It was messy, not pretty and very unstable.  But I loved it.  I was the imaginative sort of child that liked to play pretend and make imagination a reality.  Three days before my family took the biggest vacation ever to Disneyland, I fell out of that tree house and landed on an old water pump in the backyard, busting it off from its metal pipe while taking a bit of flesh off my backside just in time for the family trip. OUCH!

I'm the tall kid in the middle leaning precariously on one side to avoid the agony of sitting on my injured bottom.  Photographic proof that I could dream and work on building those dream, even if it meant falling and getting hurt.  
I love Dreaming.  This week I took a huge step toward another Dream I've had.  For the past 14 months I've been creating leather armor with my son and partnering with all my family to create a family business.  After being a constant visitor to Fan X (Comic Con), this week we became a vendor. Here is our "GEEK Together Booth" at Fan X 2022 Salt Lake City.

The three amazing people you see are my three sons, Abner, T-rev and Evoman.

I'm the tired, exhausted happy lump on the floor.

Here are some of my handcrafted leather armor.  Shoulder pauldrons, bracers, baldrics and grieves, sword frogs, wand holders, belt pouches and more.

This week in my college class I had two great takeaways.  I watched an incredible video about Randy Pausch's called The Last Lecture.   In it he talked about brick walls we run into in our lives.  What stuck out to me was when he said, "The brick walls are not to keep us out.  The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are to stop the people who don't want it badly enough."

I want to dream so badly that I am pulling 60-80 hour weeks with college and work combined.  I'm that happy exhausted lady who is giving it her all.

My other takeaway from this weeks lesson was from 'Stars and Steppingstones' by Jeff Sandefer.
He said, "The ultimate horror is not death.  The ultimate horror is to wake up at age fifty-five or sixty and realize that you have wasted your life, either that time has slipped past while your dreams waited, or that you never had any dreams at all... At fifty five or sixty often it is too late to start over.  There are not enough hours in the day, or days in the year.  Starts and steppingstones are a way to avoid the horror of a meaningless life."

To which I thought.  CODSWALLOP and BALDERDASH.  It is absolutely not too late for me to start living a new dream.  My life has not been meaningless because I chose to focus on my raising my kids instead of pursuing an entrepreneurial dream while they were younger.  I wouldn't have had the time in my day to do that and be an attentive mom.  I have time now and I am pursing my imaginative dreams.  And even better I'm doing it with my kids and having an exhausted blast.  

If my 13-year-old self could see me now, I think she would be happy that I'm building new Dreams and taking my time to build them all the while learning from my mistakes and failures of the past.  Dream on Fawn.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Aye, Aye, Entrepreneurial Captain.

Every weekend my husband don's a pirate costume and calls me Captain.  He's my favorite Pirate.  I'm so blessed to be sailing life's sometimes stormy seas with him.

In Spring of 2021 I was floundering and suffering from depression.  We found out my husband was battling kidney failure in addition to his life long struggle with heart disease.  I realized that if something happened to him I was not equipped to financially take care of our family.  So I attempted to get a job and start learning.  Of the 15 resumes I first sent out, I only got 1 job interview which went nowhere.  Who wants to hire a 50 something year old grandma when you are surrounded by young college age workers, with 2-3 years work experience.   All my decades of school and community service counted for nothing.  In the past 32 years of being a stay-at-home mother.  I'd had only 1 job and it lasted 6 months before we had to move to Utah.  I got really depressed.  Then both my husband and I were inspired that I go back to school.  So that fall I enrolled in BYU Pathway Worldwide.  That was a scary first step.  In July of this year I graduated Pathways and enrolled online at BYU Idaho through the Pathway Program so that I could finish my college education.  I'm working towards a Bachelors Degree in Applied Business Management.  At the same time I went back to school I also started training with my self-taught, leather-crafting son.  I found that my decades of crafting helped me naturally pick up leather working and so I joined a couple of my children selling leather goods and gaming supplies at Evermore Park in Pleasant Grove on Weekends.  Our little 10x10 pop up and turned into a full-time business and we just signed a lease to open our own store this fall.  It's been a whirlwind of a past year.

One of the certificates I'm taking to earn my Bachelor's is 'Intro to Entrepreneurship' and one of its purposes is to start my business journey with the end in mind.  I'm my own Start-Up Business Captian.  I'm beyond thrilled and terrified to be starting my own store with my family and at the same time learning how to start a business through my college classes.  In the past year I learned two different languages.  The language of Excel (taught on a PC) which I then had to translate to the language of Excel used on a Mac computer.  Yes, this old sea dog can learn new tricks.  As I was learning how to use Excel, I was turning around and making spreadsheets to track my inventory and sales.  

This week in class we learned about the 'Entrepreneurial Hero,' taught in an article by Jeff Sandefer.    Jeff taught that...

    "Four of the hardest challenges will be personal, because you'll have to 

    *  Accept that life is hard and seldom fair. (We lost our first lease on the store to a national chain after we had signed the lease and paid first months rent.)

    *  Know that you must persevere to develop the habits and character that will determine your destiny.

    *  Understand that choosing doesn't mean you are in control, and that real entrepreneurs learn to fail quickly, cheaply, and often.  (We learn something every time we have an event,  Even if we don't do well, we learn which events to cater to, how set-up and layout are important and how to engage with customers.  We always learn something.)

    *  Find the right fellow travelers, because you will tend to become like those who surround you. " (In our business we've met two kinds of fellow travelers - those who steal your ideas and copy them then try to push you down so they can go up and those who support you and give you info and help in reaching your goals and dreams.  We strive to be like the goal reachers and try to help others with tips or supplier info, that have worked for us.)

What an incredible experience the last year has been.  I'm trying to get my business sea legs under me.  I'm still a little wobbly, but I'm confident I can learn.  And I've got the best first mate ever.  Like I said before, I sell my leather goods at a fantasy emersion park in Pleasant Grove, Utah called 'Evermore.'  People go dressed in their favorite cosplay, medieval character and go on quests, ride a train, do archery and more.  

We love interacting with other Evermore residents and their friends at our tent. 

As vendors there, we also dress up, hence my husband turning into a pirate and calling me Captain.   If you ever go through that fantasy portal come find our family.  We offer free leather crafts and my first mate will teach you how to play a rousing game of Liar's Dice at our 'We GEEK Together' Merchant Tent. 

   I hope this educational/business adventure leads to something amazing.  This semester of college I'll be taking you along with some of my little Captain Entrepreneurial Business Quests.  Wish me luck.

-Captain FaeFae (my grandma name) Fawn Ashby

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Our Non-Electronic Adventure

So we did it once again.  Went a Month without entertaining electronics.  Kind of...  It started out like this...
...of the Non-Electronics Kind.
Every February we attempt to purge from our routine our need to watch anything on TV, surf the internet, play video games on x-box, phone, tablet.  We try to avoid getting sucked into Facebook, Pinterest, Wattpad, etc.  The only exceptions were viewing email, which, could be checked only one time per day, computer use for school-assigned homework, church work, and skyping with family.
It's a family tradition that we've attempted to respect nearly every year for the past six years. It arose from trying in vain to keep our kids, and who-am-I-kidding - MYSELF, from becoming electronic zombies.  With our wet winters it seems like we turn on the ever-addicting devises more and more throughout the dark months until Jan. It's a fight to turn them off at all. 
Homework done - plug in.
Just got home - plug in.
Can't figure what to treat a stain with - plug in and then browse the internet for hours. 
I get distracted really easily and so do my kids. 
Our success in February is dependent on how much effort we put into it. 
So we started... on February 1st, I mean February 2nd.  Only because our Seahawks were playing in the Superbowl on the 1st.  So, let me rephrase, we started on February 2nd.  Why February?  It's the shortest month of the year.
I invited our three boys, who have left the nest, to join in too.  Don't know whether or not they did, but, I do know they repeatedly reminded me that it was our non-electronic month.
How did we do?
Well on day two of our experiment, Hope and Princess were pulling out their My Little Pony Characters and they decided that they wanted to paint them and individualize some to represent characters of their own creation.  They politely asked if they could use my craft paint. 
'Of course', I said happily sitting in the next room, feeling smug and content about how quickly they were finding ways to keep themselves occupied without whining about how bored they were.  What a fine way to start off the experiment.
Not more than ten minutes later Hope let me know she had cut her finger.
'Yeah, yeah, well go wash it off in the bathroom,'  I replied, now totally engrossed in my re-reading of J.R.R.Tolkein's LOTR trilogy.
Hope then asked me to come help. So I sighed heavily, slowly putting the book down and made my way to the bathroom. 
Apparently in addition to borrowing my paints, she also borrowed my exacto knife.  Her finger was the first Opp-sie of our month of trying to entertain ourselves.  Princess offered to clean up the blood sprayed all over the bathroom walls and sink and I stuffed a paper towel in Hope's hand and we hopped in the car and made our way to Urgent care.  Three stitches later she was pretty proud of her craft wound and thrilled that she had a blood story to share with the kids at school.
Now, if I'd just let them plug in like normal this $700 plus Medical visit wouldn't have happened.  Yes, that's what our insurance paid for three stitches, the clinic charged over $1,000, but that's a different rant story.
So you would think I'd give up and let them plug in again.  NO WAY!
What I love about this month.  We play board games often, we talk more, visit more, cook from scratch more, we are more physically active, the kids really improve in their schooling, etc.  You name it, we are a much better family at the end of the month.
This year we did cheat a few times. 
Pompa and Grandma came to visit and three of our numbers were down with a nasty cold/cough bug which kept us from dining out,  or going out for entertainment.  So we introduced them to 'How to Train Your Dragon 1 & 2'.  We also took our girls to Prince Erik's work on the last Saturday of February to play video games.  Oh, and I did cheat and snuck onto facebook a few times to see what was going on.  Saw pictures my beautiful new niece, with her four big brothers. I stole this picture from my Sis-in-laws facebook page.  It has three of baby angel's big brothers, herself, her mom, my mom and my grandma in it.  What really cool is this was taken in the home I was raised in.  So excited for yet another new member of the family to make memories in a wonderful home.
That was a necessary cheat.  Other times, not so much.
 Here's what really stuck out to me this year.  I did notice that I really needed a break from Facebook and Pinterest.  I would get too wrapped up and invested in what everyone else was doing.  I think it's the modern equivalent of spying on the neighbors over the fence, while your outside, pretending to do laundry or yard work.  Granted, sometimes, like seeing new family, it can be really comforting, or inspirational.  But it really is an emotional drainer too.  I used to get worked up about causes, events, unfairness, politics, negative religious rants, etc.  I didn't realize how much negative energy I spent on Facebook.   Or how that energy would stick with me and affect how I was feeling are reacting to my family who knew nothing about what I was fuming about.
As for Pinterest, wow, what great ideas.  I'll sit on the computer and dream of the fantastic things I can do instead of getting off my hind end and actually doing something. 
Thank you February,  I think our Non-Electronic Tradition will continue on next year, and the year after.  And instead of reading about everyone's else's business, I'll write about my own.
It's good to be blogging again.  Oh, so much has happened, but I'll save that adventure for another time.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

How the Grinch Saved Christmas!

I was convinced that Christmas was going to be ruined.  We found out with one week to go that our two oldest children couldn’t make it home.  Their new jobs, and starving college student budgets led them to the decision to stay put and earn all the $ holiday hours working that they could get.  So for the first time in 23 years I didn’t have my whole family at home with me.  My heart was heavy and tight.  I felt like the Grinch.

My inspiration for Christmas I found in a magazine.  It made me nervous, yet I was eager to try.  My husband and I have long felt that experiences are what you remember and not gifts.  So every year our Christmas has a different theme…  Disney, Danish, Pioneer, Give-Away, etc.  This year’s theme was,  ‘How The Grinch Stole Christmas!’  So I became the Grinch.

We forced our children to set through the classic cartoon version a few days before and both my husband and I read the story to our younger girls a couple of times during the month of December.  Christmas Eve came with the accustomed Pajama’s and Ornaments. 

 Would have loved Grinch PJ’s, but the stores were all out.  We were able to get the kids different Grinch Character Ornaments.

Christmas Eve was fantastically traditional as we sat through readings of the Nativity and ‘The Cremation of Sam Magee?’  And why that poem is traditional is an entirely different post.

The kids helped put out their stockings, label their chairs, and leave a treat for Santa and his reindeer.

Our Home felt Magical.

Then the kids when to bed and the Grinch came to visit.

So when the kids arose Christmas morning they found everything Christmas gone.  EVERYTHING!  Including our outdoor lights.

They were not too happy.

They let us know they were not liking this experience.

But Hope was Not Entirely Lost!  They found 7 bags and this note by the fireplace.

To:  The Who’s named FawnDear’s Herd

He stuffed Christmas in bags.  Oh, that Grinch, very nimbly, stuffed all the bags, one by one, up your chimbley!   He took every present you wrapped up with glee.  And yes, he himself, took your Christmas tree!   You must help him to realize that Christmas means more,      than presents, and wrappings and things from a store.  Let’s help his small heart to not be so darn tight,    by giving some cheer to some homeless in plight.    So off to Seattle, you must travel right now.   I know you are asking, what, who, when, and HOW?   Find seven poor people whose budgets are tight,   and give them a bag full of goodies they’ll like.    That ought to do it, his heart will grow quick.  Scurry back home, and you may meet St. Nick.

Sincerely,  The Grinch's Dog Max

In the bags we found chap stick, gloves, McDonalds gift cards, A Candy Cane, Chocolate Santa, tissue and a Picture of Christ.  To the bags we added hand warmers, bottled water and a fresh orange.  Then we left for Seattle. 

Here is where nerves kicked in.  I was nervous,  I’m a lousy judge of people, and my thoughts drifted to all the horrible new stories you seldom hear on the news.  What would we find, how would people react?

I was shocked by how many homeless there were.  Bundled up in Sleeping bags, blankets and tarps.  Within minutes our bags were gone.  And even those we didn’t have enough for wished us a Merry Christmas and God’s blessing.  They were so grateful for our meager little bags.  Our hearts all grew!  Little 8 year old Hope said, “We should do this every year and not because of the Grinch.  We should just do it because.”  I agreed with her. 

All too soon our trip was done as we headed back to our empty home.  And you know if that was the end of my day I felt richly blessed, but it wasn’t.

Back at home we found our Christmas Activity Elves on the couch with another letter that read.’

‘Thank you for thinking of other poor folks.  See it wasn’t that hard, and you didn’t  choke.    You shared your hearts, found some Christmas Love… brought Holiday cheer and blessings from above.   The Grinch’s heart grew and your holiday’s back.  But the Sneak, hid those goodies he stuffed in his sack.   In the back yard, look by the gate,  for he left part of his load there, for Goodness Sake!   Your gifts to each other that were covered with bows, are hidden in baskets under some clothes.   The presents from Santa are somewhere quite warm,  near the furnace, don’t worry – They came to no harm.  Under the porch three items are near,  a Manger of Straw, and two white reindeer.   Someone strong like the Grinch should be able to shift,    two bookcases near the window to find some more gifts.         Merry Christmas.

So Christmas came back.  The kids loved searching for all the places that the Grinch hid their presents.  We were finding them well into the evening. 

And when the neighbor boy stopped by to play in the afternoon.  Guess what?  My girls didn’t regale him with what Santa brought for Christmas.  Instead they told him about their amazing experience with The Grinch.

And to make it a near perfect Christmas we Skyped with my boys!  I love the Grinch.



Tuesday, January 1, 2013

In Review… Last Year

I must start this post with one of the  blessing of being an early riser. You get to see humdingers like this.

IMG_5934 o

What a breathtaking sunrise to close out 2012.  As I pulled the camera down from my eyes and looked at the view screen this was one instance where the colors of the pictures accurately reflected the brilliance of the sky.  I even had to wake up the kids so they could see it too – and it was so good they didn’t even complain about being roused early.

So for those near and dear to our herd hearts, here’s a brief recap and a picture.

IMG_5775 (2)

Our oldest, Abner, finally flew the nest.  He’s going to school full time, working full time and with that schedule we are lucky to see him for a few hours every weekend.  Lucky for us he is only 1/2 hour away.

T-rev graduated from High School and after months of pounding the pavement found a job pounding open freight boxes at Sears.  We are now waiting to see where he will be going to school.

Evo-man continues to be our rollercoaster wildcard. Ups and Downs rule his life.  The best thing is that his Crones is under control.  He has treatment every 8 weeks and get’s to set in a comfy chair for a few hours, while getting his remicade infusion at a local hospital.  I have to mention a huge thank you to my husbands insurance that covers this cost.  There would be no way we could afford the treatment without it, as they bill us over $20,000 per treatment..  $20,000 for 4 hours of treatment every 8 weeks.  I think there’s something fishy going on with that???

Lea is going through officially being a teenager with all the hormonal chaos that accompanies such ventures in life.  She did get a break from her stress inducing family while visiting with  family in CA last summer and going to girls camp.  She is also looking forward to Track and Field, where she hopes to continue her dominance of Discus.  She was the unofficial district champ for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade last year.  Unofficial, because she missed the district meet, but she won the event at every other meet.  My sweet little powerhouse is growing up.

Princess is still princess, and loves being in 5th Grade during the day and the world of imagination at home.  She is an aspiring writer and loves the make believe like only her mom.

Hope is still our beacon of happiness.  I can’t believe my baby is seven.  She loves everyone and is one of our happiest biggest helpers around.  She is also the major handler of our hyper kitten Meap.  Scratches everywhere don’t deter her from snuggling and might I add, manhandling that furball.

Prince Erik finally received the promotion at work that he’s been working so hard to get.  He is once again Cub Master in our ward and it’s fun to see the enthusiasm of working with 8-11 year olds has not waned.  He loves it.  He continues to love cooking – thank heavens for all of us.  And he’s the best Honey-Do Dude I know.

I finally finished De-Hoarding my home last spring.  Yes, you heard me right. It only took 2 1/2 years, over 30 loads to the dump in the truck, and another 6 loads to the thrift store.  It is something I’m so grateful for.  My mentor Mrs. Passion moved to Texas and I cried buckets when she left, but she gave me all the tools I needed to finish. 

Am I done?  Heavens no.  I’ve still got projects to do, more curtains to make, furniture to refinish and then we get to start on the jungle we call the back yard. 

My Prince let me fly away from the herd over the summer.  I went to Idaho and Utah to visit family and attend Education Week.  I loved seeing family, but I spent most of the vacation being taken care of by my mom as I hurt my back the day after I arrived.  Thank goodness she didn’t mind babying me.

When I got home my Prince had missed me so much he took me away on our first overnight vacation, without kids, I might add, in eight years..  We stayed at a bed and breakfast in beautiful Victoria, Canada.  It was romantic heaven!  He even let me bring home a crate of beach combed rocks for our future patio.  He spoiled me rotten and even replaced my wedding ring which had lost it’s diamond years ago.  I’m a lucky girl to be married to such an adoring Prince. 

My church calling has also kept me busy as a whirlwind.  I’m over the activities for all the sisters in our ward/congregation and there is always an activity in the planning or someone in need of service.

So there you have it, a long-winded recap of 2012.  The best part was last night at sunset we got to see this.


The two perfect bookends to the final day of the year. So when it’s not raining here in the Pacific Northwest we get amazing heavenly light shows.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Wrapping Up Christmas

I think I found all of Christmas and boxed it up.  No doubt I’ll find a towel in the laundry or a jingle bell hidden in a couch cushion next week. For now though, Christmas is put away.  It’s always bitter-sweet putting away the trappings of the holiday season.  I love decorating everything.


I won’t miss Meap, the Claw Kitten ransacking the Christmas tree or leaving scratch marks on my reindeer.


I won’t miss her derailing the Christmas train either.


But I will miss her sleeping in the manger.


And I’m already planning for next year.  I’ve pulled out my Christmas Planner only to discover the web hosting site where I stored all the pages went down.  I’ll try and find a way to post them again.  I love what Organized Christmas does.  They have a Rudolf Club that works on Christmas on the 25th of every month of the year.  I’d love to do that this year.  So every 25th I’m hoping to get one step closer to a more relaxing season next year.  I’ll probably follow my own schedule.  So far I’m planning on May being my Power Tool Present Fest.

This Christmas was probably my most relaxing so far.  Mainly because I turned it all over to Prince Erik and my Angel Mom.  I’ve been recovering from surgery.  Nothing tramatic, my plumbing just needed upgrading after 6 kids.  So why not have it in the busiest month of the year?  I like doing things that defy reason.  But, it needed to be done and I’m sure blessed to have such a Knight in Shining Armor Guy for my husband.  Double Bonus is that he cooks and he’s good at it too.  I’m a lucky girl.


And special thanks to my Mom who braved a winter blizzard to come stay with me for a week and chase all my wild herd from one Christmas activity to another.  I owe her big time.


So I’m planning away for next year with all the excitement of a child on Christmas Eve.  I’m sure it will be here before I know it.