Sunday, February 23, 2014

Entrepreneurial Escapades (by: Kelsey)

So, some of you guys know my sister Kelsey is an amazing musician. Some of you know she is stellar at ping pong. Some of you know she's a great cook, has fantastic humor, and is a killer athlete.

But did you know she is an extraordinary writer? (I know, she's good at everything. . .)

This past year, I have had the privilege of being Kelsey's English teacher. It has been so rewarding to watch her grow and develop her skills in written communication. Full of raw talent and humor, Kels makes my job super easy and makes me look like a pretty good teacher.

 Anyways, last week, I asked my class to write a 500-800 word story about an experience they had. When Kelsey read hers I just knew I had to share. I laughed when she told me about her experience last summer, and I laughed even harder when she described it on paper. Below is her finished draft, along with some insight  from Kels on being an entrepreneur.

She's hilarious.

 Entrepreneurial Escapades 

            “Today is the day I go from being a pauper to a prince!” I announced at the breakfast table one sunny summer morning.

            By this, I meant that today would be the day I would start my milk business. I was as confident as David facing Goliath and as inexperienced as a bird that has not yet left the nest. After breakfast, I eagerly went “all out” and made some of my world-famous-Kelsey-original-chocolate-chip cookies, determined to make the day a success.

            “Load up!” I called to my two little siblings, whom I recruited for the sole purpose of adding the “cute factor” to my operation.

            Rummmmmmm. Our truck engine rumbled to life and off we roared. I was prepared to conquer the world—so I thought.

            Thump, Thump, Thump.

            I boldly gave the door three hearty whacks with the dingy, brass knocker. Impatiently, I waited with pitcher in one hand and a plate of uncovered cookies in the other. My two siblings stood timidly behind me. The whole idea of selling milk to strangers was still a little daunting to them. Finally, someone opened the door.

            “What do you want?” crabbed an overweight, pajama-adorned woman.

            I noticed the cupcake design on the flannel pajama bottoms.
            “I’m here to offer you some of the best raw cow’s milk in Wasco County. No hormones, Klarabelle is grass fed, non-GMO, not treated with rBST and the best thing about it is it’s 100% organic. Good for you and good for the planet!” I crowed.

            The lady appeared unmoved by my thrilling speech even though I offered her my most salesman-like smile. She must have been kind of interested though, because she grudgingly called one of her grungy children to come taste it.

            “Here you are!”  I said enthusiastically, thrusting a half filled paper cup of the liquid toward him. I watched as he took one swallow of the milk and made a face like I’d given him poison. He muttered one word “Yuck!”

            His cupcake-clad mother grunted, “Not interested,” and slammed the door.

            Needless to say, I didn’t make the sale.

            Stop number two, three, four, five and six generated similar results but my hopes were still as high as a soaring eagle. I comforted myself with the saying that “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” or in my case, fortune was not made in a few hours.

            Sticky summer smells wafted to my nose, reminding me of a hamburger cookout. Flies buzzed around my head, and the now warm jug of milk, as I approached my seventh house.

            Knock, knock, knock! I was cordially greeted by a woman who looked like she was attempting to be Ms. America—forty years too late. She was all sparkles and glam—the full package, complete with face-lift, hair extensions and fake nails. I knew at first glance the idea of raw cow’s milk would sound a little too natural to this fine specimen of cosmetic confection . . . hmm, I mean perfection. Nevertheless, I gave her my sales pitch.

            My suspicions were confirmed when she replied in a sugar coated voice, “Not today, honey.” The flutter of her long, false eyelashes and gushy smile made me sick. It was my turn to mutter “yuck” as I turned away.

            Six discouraging stops later, I was beginning to wake up to reality. Things weren’t working out the way I had hoped. As I marched down Main Street to my last stop, a friend drove by and waved. I felt kind of dumb trudging around town with my cookies, milk, and two siblings. Especially when all I had to show for my effort were some tired children, a few less cookies, and what I thought at the time: wasted sweat and energy.
            However, I was still persistent. A little too persistent. I’m sure I knocked on some back doors when the front ones didn’t open. I also applied my knocking abilities at one unlucky individual’s door for at least a minute and a half before a very disgruntled old man answered my call. He looked as big and angry as a bear that has just come out of hibernation.

            “Would you be interested? ” I asked sweetly before giving him my spiel.

            What a spiel it was! I had it down by this time and it rattled off my tongue as smooth as butter.

            “No thanks, kid!” was the angry reply.

            He slammed the door and I imagined him ambling back to his den to finish the nap I had obviously interrupted. Slowly, I trudged back to the truck discouraged, and broke as ever.  In the truck cab, my two weary followers and I sat in stony silence, mourning the loss of prosperity.

            Suddenly, I shattered the silence with an explosive laugh.

            “What’s your problem,” muttered Barrington sullenly.

            Grinning at my surprised siblings I chirped, “No worries guys. There’s always next time. Wanna cookie?”

             As I thought about the day’s events, I decided I could look at my first entrepreneurial escapade in two different lights. I could see it as a complete failure, or I could see it as a learning experience (the later being the wiser of the two options.) Even though I didn’t succeed in recruiting one customer to my cause, I learned many wonderful life lessons such as putting my best foot forward, investing in presentation, and putting myself in a larger market where I had a better chance at being accepted. This little adventure has just added more fuel to my entrepreneurial fire, and only deepened the desire I already had to succeed.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

What do you think of when you think of Valentine's Day?

Love, chocolate, roses?

For me, many images pop into my mind. I think of those over-achieving grade-school years, where Kyla, Kelsey and I decided to make valentines. The first three took about four hours--glittery, lacy, works of art. The next five minutes were spent haphazardly hacking out twenty-seven construction paper shapes (faintly resembling hearts) and writing "Happy Valentine's Day" till my hand was forever cramped around my pen--desperately wishing I didn't have so many friends.

Then, of course, I think of love. An overabundance of love.

I picture waking-up, expecting a normal day, to notes with Mother's handwriting and treats posted where we do our chores. Sleepy-eyed, wandering into the kitchen and seeing a cheerful banner, our infamous red table cloth, fancy breakfast, and a sparkly valentine at each plate. Mother's handiwork.

I picture the giant bouquets of roses Daddy buys Mother. The unique cards, sweets, and experiences he surprises her with. Then too, the many years of valentine cards I have received from the one who has my heart. Daddy has always made each of his girls feel so loved on this special holiday, right down to the roses or chocolate bar we share.

But this year, something was missing.

Here I am, the recipient of devotion, yet how am I sharing the love I have to give? I am a girl brimming with grace and God's love, so why am I not sharing it?

Forget that. This year, I decided, was going to be different.

It was different! Oh, how delightfully, beautifully different!

Getting Ready to "Show the Love." (We have so many pictures in front of our staircase. It's just so picturesque you know? (Side note: Kinsey has turned smiling into a science…apparently she has the same feelings about that subject as I do.)
Valentine morning was spent in a whirlwind of glue, glitter, stickers and the smell of something chocolate wafting through the air. By the time Kelsey slid the melting fudge brownies out of the oven and I had completed my duties as scribe (yes, my hand had a cramp), there were five fat stacks of carefully crafted valentines.

Let's just say, that in this case, beauty was in the eye of the maker.

Bentley's valentines looked liked the remains of a third World War. He was so pumped about his chaotic mess of black and red. Kinsey's had every sticker in the neighborhood overwhelming one small heart, and a couple of the older girls could not get enough glitter.

Later that afternoon, cellophaned plates of brownies, valentines, and ukuleles in hand, ten of us piled into our six-seater truck ready to embark on our "Show the Love Tour." At our first stop, we piled out looking like a lost circus or carolers that forgot what time of year it was.

Creak. The door slowly opened.

"Happy Valentines!" We chorused.

Ah. I fear we startled our poor elderly neighbor. After quickly explaining our presence, the kiddos swarmed through the door and crammed into the mobile home's tiny entry. All except Bentley, that is. After shoving his valentine into Violet's face, he ran into the living room and plopped himself on the couch--watching TV.

While Kimmers and Kloe played and sang a duet on their ukes, I had flashbacks to Mother and Daddy making us older ones sing at random times  in hotels or restaurants. Now, here I was, pushing the younger girls outside their comfort zones. Funny how time changes things.

Our little tour was short and sweet. We visited three widows and a few other neighbors who have blessed us a lot over the past few years. It was such fun parading around town surprising neighbors and reminding them they are loved. There are very few things more enjoyable than making someone's day, and this was one of the best Valentines I have ever had!

To all my siblings…Thanks for being the most gung-ho troopers ever. I know wearing an itchy dress and tramping around the rain isn't everyones' idea of a good time. I know it's hard getting woken up from your nap and being told to be a cheerful ball of love. I know jumping on every bandwagon your  sister tells you is "a great idea" isn't easy. But you guys do it! I am so grateful we find joy in squishing into cars and breaking out of our comfort zones together. I love you.

Happy Valentines!

Kathryn Joy

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy 2014 From the Johnsons

Just another Sunday in Dufur.

Happy 2014, Dear, good friends,
It's that time of year, where we take out our pens.
And in effort, to share a bit of God's grace,
We've penned a fine poem, (rather long, in this case).

Livin' in Dufur has not been a bore,
We've been traveling so much we're barely there no more.
From CO to AZ and all in-between,
"Jump in the van! There're things to be seen!"
All of us Kiddos are still growin' strong,
Even Kordelia is comin' along.
She toddles, and teeters, tells us what to do,
Comin' June, she'll be turnin' two.
Bentley's up next, that little scamp,
At four-years-of age he light's our world like a lamp.
With smiles abundant and yackative mouth,
He cuddles and jabbers, and does school with Kels.
Kinsey's a wonder, at six years old,
She's confident, smart, and tremendously bold.
Helping, and playing, an inquisitive mind,
"Can I smother, Kordi in love? Would she mind?"
Who is the boy with the freckles and grin?
Playing the fiddle and feeding the hens?
Barrington, Barrington, Baylor's right hand,
At the ripe age of 7, he's becomin' a man.
Kloe's the artist, the rest of us try,
Nine in November, boy does time fly.
She delights us with twinkly eyes and sweet face,
Serving and loving with fairy-like grace.
Kimberly Paula, keeps us all on our toes,
Climbin' 100 foot trees (no joke)…goodness knows.
Slacklinin', rope swings, athletics galore,
Piano and schoolwork, busy with chores.
Who's the queen, slender and tall?
That'd be Karlaine, 12, knitter of all.
With schoolwork in hand, she organizes the day,
Everyone loves her creative way.
Who's the man? Runnin' the farm?
Chadwick Baylor, 14, buff arms.
Protecting us womenfolk, raising cattle,
Chopping wood, everything aeronautical.
Just like Daddy, Bay was born to fly,
With all his study, he'll soon be up in the sky.
Sixteen-year-old Kelsey, where to begin,
She's cooking and driving, and racking up wins.
A volleyball hitter and ping-pong fanatic,
She works hard, plays piano, and is superbly spasmodic.
Kyla is seventeen going on twenty,
Baristain' it up and is bringin' home money.
Cello's fantastic, so was being a setter,
Takin' third at State has never been better.
Katie's 19, still pluggin' away,
Lookin' forward with joy to graduation day.
Writing papers and music, an idea machine,
Teaching Math, English, and Fiddle and lots in-between.
As for our parents, well, they're doin' fine,
Goin' to Hawaii, then Arizona for some special time.
Daddy is flying, and bringin' home dough,
Learning to relax and slow down. You know?
Filling each of our love tanks is never easy,
But we think he's first rate (at the risk of sounding cheesy).
Mother's still vibrant and full of life,
Loving her children, being a supportive wife.
Taking cooking classes to improve her already amazing skills,
She still loves singing, and spending time with her girls. (and boys)
All in all, 2013 has been grand,
Best wishes to each of you, Woman and Man.
May this year be filled with blessing and fun,
Praise be to Jesus, GREAT things He hath done!

The Chad Johnson Family

Kathryn (19)  &  Kyla (17)
Kelsey (16)

Chadwick Baylor (14)
Kimberly (11) Karaline (12) Kloe (9)

Christian Barrington (7) Kinsey (5)

Conrad Bentley (3)
Kordelia (Kordi) 18 months

Chad and Jenise (ages N/A)

**Copyright. All rights reserved by "Kathryn & Kyla Creative Genius Inc." 2014.