Friday, October 28, 2011

What I learned from a stolen Mercedes

It is interesting that after almost 13 years of marriage (our anniversary is in about a week) I still learn new things about my husband when new circumstances arrive. Last week we had a first for Hardman Car Company, our first car was stolen.

Sonny came home Friday night later than normal and obviously upset. I asked him how his day was and he said, "I think it could be one of the worst for Hardman Car Company." He went on to explain that earlier in the day a young man came in (someone who had come in before) and test drove a Mercedes, never to return. After calling the police hours later, Sonny was told nothing could be done for 72 hours. One of our most expensive vehicles was gone and we were expected to just sit around and wait.

Taking matters into his own hands, Sonny took pictures from the security camera of the young man (he didn't know his name), and posted them on facebook. Oh, the joys of social media! It only took a few minutes to spread this guys face around, along with the description of our car and the circumstances surrounding it. Thanks to all the friends and family that helped spread the news, the next day brought results.

Sonny got a call from police in the morning. The boys mother had called in and told them her son's name, so there was something to go on. A few hours later Sonny's cousin called and said, "I think I found your car." It was on the side of the road, only a few blocks from our dealership. Apparently, the boy had run out of gas and left the car sitting. Sonny and Jared (he works with us), quickly went the car, but without a key, they could not move it. Sonny pulled something out of the engine or something (good thing he is the one with mechanical skills) so that it couldn't run if the boy came back for it. They left and a little while later were called by the people living on the same street the car was abandoned on- "the boy and his friend are back with gas, get here quick."

Rushing to the car, Sonny and Jared caught their thief. The police were on their way, but the boy had no intention on waiting for them to show up. He apologized, made excuses, and even started crying- trying to walk home, Sonny and Jared caught him and held him until police arrived. I was surprised when Sonny said they chose not to press charges. They told police they would let him go as long as he came to the office and helped do some work for them. Police were surprised, but agreed to it. Sonny and Jared left to go get the parts to the Mercedes that they had taken out and when they returned, the boy was being cuffed and put in the squad car.

"What happened?" Sonny wanted to know. The cops had found drugs on the boy and were now taking him into custody. The boy was obviously upset and Sonny couldn't help feeling sorry for him. After the car was brought back to the dealership, needles were found in the car and obvious drug paraphernalia. The boy was an addict who had no money and needed a car for a few days.

Later Saturday night Sonny and I took the kids for a surprise stay at a hotel in Salt Lake. We were spending quality family time together, yet I could see that he was still distracted.

"Aren't you so glad we got the car back and everything worked out?" I asked.
"Yah, I am. I just feel so bad for the kid."

That was the response that helped me learn something new about my husband. Anyone who knows him knows he is kind and good- but there aren't too many people who could still have sympathy and concern for the person that stole and lied from them. I mean, concern enough that he is distracted and worried about what will happen to the man that cheated him. I am glad I can continually learn from my sweet husband. I am glad he is an example to my boys and I hope the young man who stole the car learns there are good people in the world- someone he should strive to be like.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A week later... Cohen Axel Hardman

It has been a week. I finally put a couple of pictures on my computer and after going back to sleep twice this morning, getting up for real at noon with an exploding diaper to take care of, screaming older brothers to quiet, and a kitchen full of broken crackers and Hershey Kiss wrappers I realized I'm in this for good. Life as a mom of four has begun.

Cohen Axel Hardman was born last Saturday, Oct. 1, at 2:45 AM. I can honestly describe my experience as enjoyable. I went to a birthing center this time around and it was completely different than the hospital. I loved the freedom of doing whatever I felt was best for me and though my OBGYN sister was a little a concerned for our well-being not at a hospital, it all turned out really, really well.

Cohen was 9.1 pounds and 22 inches long, a big, healthy boy. Since we've been home I have loved holding him, and have been surprised at his mellow personality so far. Although he looks exactly like his brothers, he is the first I would ever describe as mellow. I hope it will continue. I even called Sonny from the car the other day just to relish in the fact that I was driving with the baby in the car and there was no crying from the car seat. That's never happened before with our Hardman boys.

I know I have a lot of craziness ahead of me, but right now I am happy and very grateful for the chance to be a mom-again. Welcome to our home Cohen.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

There aren't many like my dad

"Wow, I wish they'd invite me to be a keynote speaker." Dad rubbed his eyes, trying to keep his heavy lids from shutting permanently.

It was only 9:00 AM but the packed room of hundreds of educators, a dimly lit stage with statistics of high school and college graduate median incomes splashed across a large screen not quite big enough to read from the back of the room and a droning voice of an ex-superintendent discussing the need to get more kids to go to college had a very sleepy effect on all of us in the audience. Throw in the fact that dad had just raced back from Nebraska the night before in order to get up by 6:00 AM, drive to this conference with 2 presentations of his own he had to give that afternoon, all the while smiling and excitedly telling the people visiting our Education: Catch the Dream! booth why we were so great.

I chuckled. "Dad, there aren't many people that would wish for the chance to speak in front of a room filled of hundreds of strangers. You are unique."

There are many talents my father has. His positive attitude, his ability to make you feel important, his strength in talking to strangers, his drive toward helping the world, his business sense, etc. etc. The talent of public speaking is one I've known my father has all my life. In his career he spoke in front of large groups all the time and I knew even as a young child that he was good at it. In fact he found public speaking so important he spent many family nights teaching us kids how to give good talks and important points in presenting ourselves. He started our annual Curtis Convention (Curticon) when we were young. We went to the local Holiday Inn, excited about the great indoor pool, and were instead all given an agenda indicating what topic we would present or other talent we would share in front of everyone in the family. This opportunity still happens every year, now including our spouses and children in the presentations.

I have learned a lot from his example and when I get an opportunity like I did last Friday to actually watch him in action, I am very proud. His afternoon presentations were a dramatic difference from the morning's key-note speaker. He had laughter, applause, an overflowing room, and shining feedback. His second presentation was about 80% full of people that had already attended his first session, wanting to take part in his speech again. I definitely recognized the unique talent that public speakers have, one I hope to continue to develop in my life time.

As we packed up our materials for the day, I told him how great I thought he did. He returned the compliment, recognizing me for some of my abilities to talk to others and enthusiastically engage them. (thank you, I am glad I take after him a little bit.)

"So are you taking this week off? I'm sure you're exhausted from all your traveling, presenting and other stuff." I asked, knowing that he had been training in Wyoming a couple weeks before and back and forth from Nebraska in those same two weeks.

"Well, I have a few days to rest. I'm off to the Congo on Wednesday." I laughed at my retired father. A man who doesn't embrace the world's view of retirement in any way. A man that starts social businesses for fun, and yearns to speak in front of hundreds of people just for kicks. A man I'm proud to call my dad.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What the 9 year old said about 11

School is officially in session. We are a few weeks in, learning the ropes to Grayson's 4th grade class and Asher's Kindergarten room. It is so fun to see the different personalities of my school children and especially fun to find joy in the talents they each posses. After a couple hours of homework tonight, I was reminded of the pride I take in Grayson's academic skills and wanted to now take my chance to brag about his abilities. Hopefully this post might help some of you other mothers, struggling with ways to help your children learn their times tables- especially their 11's.

So earlier in the summer, my boys found the DVD set "School House Rock". Do you remember those Saturday morning cartoon segments?

"School House Rock" is a compilation of unique educational songs that teach everything from the importance of saving money, to what conjunctions are, to math, to history. They would play during Saturday morning cartoons when I was a kid- made in the late 70's early 80's and full of catchy tunes.

Well they found the DVDs we have and decided to put them in DVD player in the car. We spent the next few weeks listening to the songs of "School House Rock" as we drove in the car and I was amazed at how much my kids learned! Grayson can sing a whole song about the revolutionary war, Asher and Beck learned what pronouns are, and all 3 of them are very much aware of what interest is if they were to ever take out a loan. During one of our drives, Grayson said to me, "Mom, I know a trick to multiply by 11's."

He had just watched a song about 11's on the DVD, so I supposed he was going to tell me what it had told him- but I was wrong. As he watched the cartoon numbers fly across the screen, he visually saw a trick that I had never heard of- and all I've told since, have never heard of it either.

"It goes like this," he explained. "If you're multiplying a double digit number by 11 all you have to do is add the 2 numbers together and put it in the middle. For example, 23 x 11 equals 253. You add 2 + 3 and get 5. You put the 5 in the middle of 2 and 3 and you get your answer!"

I was skeptical- "Are you sure that always works? What if it is a double digit number that adds up to a double digit number? For example, 77 x 11? The answer to that is obviously not 7147." I thought I'd stumped him, as I quickly tried to do the problem in my head by visualizing myself writing the problem down and carrying the 1, etc. etc."

"Easy." Grayson responded. "If you add 7 + 7 you get 14. Just put the 4 in the middle and add the 1 to the first 7. So you get 847."

"No way, we have to try this with a calculator," I said.
It worked- every time it works. Just carry the extra number and add it to the hundreds place.

Gray taught me this trick as we drove in the car. He didn't learn it at school, he saw it as the numbers flew across the screen from "School House Rock". Pretty impressive huh? It is fun to see a little mind work and teach his old mom something already- at the age of 9!

I hope this little tidbit helps any of you out there in your future school year- I know the more shortcuts and tricks we know as mothers, the better. I also know that I'm in for it, my kids will be able to outsmart me quicker than I ever imagined.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Finding my Ujjay Breath

Sonny and I switched sides of the bed last night.

He usually sleeps on the side closest to the window air conditioner we put in our walk-in closet during the summer. We have central air, but our bedroom is on the top floor and in this high 90 degree summer weather, it is nice to have additional coldness hitting our bods during the night-especially when my bod has put on an extra 30 pounds and carries another person around with it. Usually I put a fan on my side and let it blow in my face while I sleep with no sheets or blankets and very little clothing. After a long day of trying to diffuse battles between children, new school schedules, the scouts "Raingutter Regata" competition without Sonny's help, and then a late night throw up from Grayson, last night I needed more, so I got the air conditioning.

As most parents know switching sides of the bed can cause much confusion for little ones during the blackness of night. Both Asher and Beck joined us- trying to find out what had happened- completely confused at the irregularity of mom on the West and dad on the East. As the four of us tried to sleep, I laid uncomfortably in an even warmer bed with a pillow between my legs and feet in my back, wondering how I was going to make it.

In only 1 month I will have another boy joining my life. With him comes sleepless nights, busier schedules, even less time for myself, messier houses, more laundry, very little romance, etc. I have also decided to deliver this baby at a birthing center instead of a hospital and am needing to empower my strong yoga body and mind I claim to have in order to make it through a completely new natural birthing experience. These are the things I thought about during my sleepless moments in bed last night. Starting to panic a bit, I tried to tell myself to focus on the good things. Find my Ujjay breath and get myself to relax.

It was easy for me to list all of the annoying, frustrating things that have been making life harder lately. But when I finally started getting my yogi breathing going and worked on identifying the positives- here are some things I came up with.

I love holding newborn babies.
Sonny had a good week at the dealership.
I am not throwing up anymore.
I have a great, supportive family. (I just got to see them all for Michael's wedding- it was so fun)

I have healthy kids.

Though I've gotten large, I am a healthy prego mommy.

I enjoy learning.

I have food in my pantry.

These are just some of the many things I tried to make myself thankful for as I struggled last night. You know what? It kinda worked. (Sonny taking Asher to his own bed helped too). I actually fell back to sleep and started my new day today wanting to get things done, be creative, and enjoy life a little more.
I'm crossing my fingers that I can keep this frame of mind for at least a few more weeks. That's all I've got before the world entirely explodes.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The After-Read Let Down

I started this blog after I read a book about Google.
In the book, the author strongly suggested that any successful business these days needs an online presence. Employees and owners should blog and share with customers their unique personalities so they could see the inside workings of a business in action. After reading the first couple chapters, I enthusiastically told my quietly private husband that starting this blog would be a catapult, pushing us out of the dip our recent economic slum gave us. I even convinced Sonny to put links on the bottom of the pages of his website and with conviction moved forward in emailing friends and facebooking my words for all to see. Then, a couple of months later I realized my only followers were the family and friends that would buy from us anyway, and quickly felt my efforts wane. The recipe in the Google book didn't seem to work for me.

This happens a lot.

I love reading non-fiction finance, business, and motivation books. Often I stay up all night learning how Subway started on less than $500 or how just changing some of our marketing techniques to be out of the ordinary as suggested in a book called, Purple Cow, we can launch into multi-million dollar success. I think about, dream about and excitedly plan how I'll follow the steps in these books.

Suze Orman inspires me to sell everything I can on craigslist or KSL in order to build my emergency fund, Dave Ramsey gets me thinking about moving my family into a small townhouse and getting rid of a mortgage. These authors hook me and I willingly take every piece of bait they offer. Unfortunately, they don't teach me how to react when that conviction gets thwarted-either by a husband who would actually like to keep his snowboard hanging in the garage or be able to watch ESPN on cable in order to unwind at the end of the day- or by the reality that life is, you rarely find immediate success.

I call this frustration my "after-read" let down. It is weird. The hype and excitement is there, but when you try it- and fail- it doesn't feel so good. I know, I know this is a principal in life that we all need to learn. Doesn't the saying go- "try, try again"? But sometimes I just want to allow myself to feel defeated. It is especially apparent on days that my efforts "work-wise" snowball with my failed efforts "mom-wise". When after sharing my opinions or hoping for great results with work I am shut down and then my kids turn to me and say, "Why do you make such disgusting food for dinner?" and then ask to eat cookies instead.

I don't think I would ever exchange the "glass half-full" excitement I feel while reading most of these books, but I do think I need to start being a little more conscience of the fact that the words from these authors are suggestions, and not always a fool-proof plan that best fits the life of Carolyn Hardman. So, I hope that tomorrow's visit to the library will give me some new found hope and that maybe I can work myself into the novel section for a bit. A good love story can always brighten my spirits.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

It's been a year...recommitted.

It's been exactly one year since I last blogged. Wow. Apparently life has gotten busier and goals have been set, met, and re-set in the mean time. I have thought about just canceling the whole thing, but tonight while assembling packs of dream cards (a product we sell with Education:Catch the Dream- my part-time job that I also started a year ago this month), I watched Julie and Julia, again.
I am always impressed with driven women who find a niche and use their talents to better themselves or take risks. In the movie, Julie blogs about cooking every recipe in Julia Child's cookbook over a year of time. She uses her writing talent and her drive to accomplish a goal to propel her into stardom- having a book and movie created because of her story.
I love stories like this. In fact, just yesterday during our monthly Fiscally Fit Chicks meeting I was talking with Susan and Maren about how to use our talents to get extra income. I have a friend that sews dresses and sells them, another who paints beautifully and sells them at boutiques and still another who makes caramel apples every week and sells them through a couple specialty stores around town. Unfortunately the talents I have never produce products as lovely as these. So- I'm on a quest, to discover the talents I have in my 30's. (It was so much easier to realize them in my teens when I received medals and trophies proving that I actually had talent.) I hope to look a little deeper at myself and find something hidden that may help in our continuing effort to make business better, household finances fatter, and personal success sweet.
So my re-commitment to blogging will pretty much be a check for myself, to make sure I'm staying on track of my life goals, those of my family, and our business. Welcome back.