Saturday, January 30, 2010

Shame On Me

Good Morning!  So, the other night I spent the entire night writhing in pain due to pain in my mouth from the damage that I have done from the pain that I have suffered from my hip/back pain.  I have literally gritted my teeth so badly with the pain that I have damaged multiple teeth and even my gums have been affected by the length of time that I have let this pain go.  So, you can only imagine the huge pity party I was having, what with the back pain, the oral pain and the $5,000 estimate that the dentist had given me to get things in my mouth straightened out.
That was until I walked in to the Seacamp Dance planning meeting for my son Nathan.  Seacamp is in San Diego and is a marine biology based week of study for students.  Each year our middle school has a group of parents that gets together and sends the eighth grade kids to it, which for our mountain kids is something many of them may never get to experience.  We have to do it as a parent group as the school can no longer afford to be involved.  My oldest son Thomas went three years ago, and it was one of his favorite and most memorable things he has ever done with school.  The kids do many fundraisers and school dances are one of the biggest ways for the kids to raise their money.
I shamefully admit that I even shed a few tears before I headed out to this meeting because I was in no shape to go anywhere, I had not eaten all day, my back was killing me, along with my mouth and I was not really in the mood to see anyone, let alone plan a dance for a bunch of screaming, obnoxious middle schoolers.  Nate and I knew something was off when we were the first to arrive in the parking lot, because we are very rarely on time for anything, let alone the first ones there, but at least we had made it. 
I was still bitching in my head as the gal got there and opened it up and I feverishly got the two goofiest boys (Nathan and one of his best friends) working on their posters so I could get the hell out of there.  I knew that the parents had things to cover as well, but a couple of us had older kids that had already gone through this and I was hoping that we could rush the newbies right through.  I knew 3 out of 4 of the other ladies either from being on other committees with them or because our kids are friends, but not the other gal, just recognized her name in the e-mails we all had been sending back and forth.  When she walked in, I recognized her right away, her and I had sort of "connected" at games and stuff before.
You know how it is with us farmers and ranchers; I don't know if it's the crap on our boots or the hay left on our clothes, or maybe the trucks we drive, but there is always some sort of connection.  I can always tell another person who has a love for animals and Mother Earth.  Although we had never had any formal introduction we had met at many school functions, we smiled at one another with immediate recognition.  It wasn't until she pulled off her hoody (much like my favorite black hoody) and then the beautifully knit yarn hat that I realized that she had a silky smooth bald head hidden underneath.  The pain in my my mouth and back seemed to lessen immediately.
The evening dragged on with the kids never looking twice at the bald lady sitting next to me (aren't kids amazing?).  She was just as willing as the rest of us to volunteer her time to sell tickets or whatever else may be needed, as long as it wasn't on Fridays, as that is the days she gets her infusions, and "thank goodness the dance was on a day that was only an infusion day, not chemo".  She joked about her chest being concave now instead of the "proper" shape, and had a sincerely serene smile when she said it.
Now, I don't know how much experience many of you have with breast cancer, but I have a little from when I was taking care of my Grandma, and there is not too much worse that I could imagine having to go through.  The chemo for breast cancer is very nasty (even worse than the chemo for small cell lung cancer that my Grandma was enduring) and has side affects that can last a lifetime.  Anyway, it makes a herniated disc and a mouth full of problems look like a walk in the park, so maybe a kick in the butt was exactly what I needed!
I am going to make a miracle today!  I guess I at least better try to be nice, it's the old man's birthday, that may be the closest thing to a miracle I can muster!  Oh, and at the very least, I can remind us all to do everything we possibly can to prevent and be aware of breast cancer!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I am woman, hear me roar...

Thought we could all use a reminder of warmer weather!

I just about broke my ribs when I wrote the title of this post.  Tom wouldn't think it's so funny.  See, I know I have been neglecting you all, and my scheme didn't work anyway, so I figured I'd at least check in.  My original thoughts were that if I stayed away from my computer and my regular routine that I would be a good girl and give myself time to heal.  Well, I overdid it anyway and hurt myself again by breaking the ice in the water trough, and I've gotten a few of you concerned with my absence, so over all the scheme was a failure.
I think I might need to see a therapist or something about self destructive behavior.  The funny (or not) is that in my mind I tried to blame it on my husband for putting my tool in the wrong place.  Well, I had no place doing the job in the first place whether I had the proper tool for the job or not!  Like I said, I think I may be some kind of lunatic or something.
Then you should have seen the look I gave Tom when he made the mistake of asking me why I wasn't blogging?  Like, gee, it's only a little back injury, I'm just sitting around anyway, why can't I get on the computer?  At least that's how I took it!  Of course he was concerned that I was missing something that he knew I enjoyed, but that was besides the point at the time.  Like I said, the main reason I have not been posting is just to keep myself from staying on my regular routine, forcing myself to shake it up a bit!  But, sitting around is not something I'm too good at, so I've been just a tad bit defensive and well, you can only imagine how the conversation went from there.
So, to say I am woman, hear me roar is down right hysterical after a couple of weeks after living with a woman who is used to doing everything for herself.  So this one is for you, family, friends, fellow lunes and dedicated readers!

Monday, January 18, 2010

I Hope You Dance

Good Morning, and as funny as it sounds, I have missed you all as much as you have missed me!!!  This song came out when my children were still very small and it hits my heart every time I hear it.  I think it may be the perfect song for how I see life and how I want to live it.  Turn up the speakers on your computer and take a minute to listen to the words and then apply them to every part of your can easily make a miracle today!!!
PS:  This was an idea I stole from another blogger friend of mine (imitation is the highest form of flattery right?), and her idea was for her readers to share "their" songs, which is what got me to searching for this link; I would really love to hear from you all about your songs and how they represent you!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Importance of Helmets

Good Morning!  I'm sorry I haven't posted for a couple of days, and had actually planned on taking a few more days off this week before I got back to work, but today's post sort of wrote itself.  Things with my hips/back really came to a head over the weekend and I am trying, or should I say not having a choice, but  to slow down drastically.
You know, usually I know when something is wrong with one of my kids.  The only excuse I can come up with is this drug induced stupor I am in.  Yesterday, my oldest son Thomas got up to go to school and got in the shower, he suddenly felt ill and had to hop out to vomit.  He continued to be sick off and on throughout the day but had no other symptoms.  We had finally gotten him to hold down some 7Up and he was feeling a little stronger and wanted to help me out so he went to drop off his brother at a basketball game.
Nathan called to check in and said that they were almost at the school and everything was fine, mostly they were calling to check on me (BTW, I was in the ER Monday for my hips/back so they have all been very concerned, to say the least).  It seemed like only minutes later that I got a call from Thomas to come and pick him and his little sister up because he was not feeling right.  His words did not sound right and he said that his arms and legs felt funny.
As I was driving at 60 mph down my mountain road I was debating whether to call 911 or not, but in a town like ours with a volunteer fire department, I knew that I could get to him just as fast to assess the situation and not scare Isabella to death in the process.  When I got there (after calling and checking on them multiple times) Thomas seemed stabilized and had the feeling back in all of his extremities and was talking normally again.  Thanks to my background with brain problems, I know neurological symptoms when I see them and immediately started gently questioning Thomas about everything he had done in the past couple of days.  Including the most difficult of all questions for parents to ask, drugs.  That is when we remembered that he had taken a very bad fall on Saturday when he was snowboarding; bad enough that his helmet strap had cut his chin.
I immediately called Kaiser to let them know we were headed down the mountain and they advised me where to take him.  Too bad it was the wrong clinic, but the doctor was very nice, helped us figure out which hospital would be closest and told us she'd help us try to get our co-pay back.  So, we headed to a hospital that not more than a year ago I had filed a formal complaint with after I went to visit my Grandpa and was very unimpressed with the overly rude staff.
But, I digress, Thomas was immediately taken to a cat scan (do you think cats get cat scans?) and the doctor came to visit with Isabella and I.  If  anything at all showed up on his scan they were going to have to keep him and possibly do emergency surgery.  I FREAKED.  Blessedly, my boy only has a bad concussion and we were all able to come home.
The oh so important point I am trying to make is that if Thomas had not had his helmet on he could have, strike that, would have died.  He was the only one of his friends that day that was wearing one and most of the times that is the case.  He says that sometimes his friends put them on when they are doing "dangerous" stuff in the big terrain parks.  My kids have asked me time and again if they have to wear their helmets.  "Aaww, come on Mom, none of my friends wear their helmets" is something I have heard a million times, but I just very calmly say, if you want to ski/board, you wear your helmet, period.  Now that Thomas is driving, I could only hope and pray that he was still following the rule, but to have laid the groundwork was all I could do.  So, please people, buckle up your kids, make them wear helmets when it is appropriate and by all means go give them an extra squeeze today!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Royal Ranch Royalty

Rhode Island Red and Ameraucauna
Good Morning!  Well, I mentioned them yesterday, so you might have guessed that today's royalty would be our new chickens.  Thankfully these girls are not exactly rescues, they were just in need of a good home as their family had to move back to Denver (in my opinion the humans needed rescue from the city-ha!!!) and couldn't take their beloved hens with them.  That means that we get nice, healthy animals, which is sometimes a novelty here at The Royal Ranch.

The fun part is that with the six new chickens we did get one new breed of hen, an Ameraucana, who lays bluish eggs, so we will now get a wider variety of egg color.  There are two of those girls, three Rhode Island Reds, who are great layers and also meat birds (not that we plan on eating them...yet-ha!) and one Orpington which we had only one of before.  I am hoping that the Orpingtons will make friends as I have found that the chickens tend to stay with their own breeds.  So, to break it down, we now have 9 Rhode Island Reds, 2 Buff Cochins, 2 Orpingtons, 2 Ameraucaunas and 1 mutt bantam rooster that has the attitude of any big rooster you'll ever come across!  He keeps us laughing with his big rooster actions in his miniature body.
I know I have said it time and again, but it is worth saying at least one more time; chickens are an absolute joy to own.  They cost practically nothing to feed and the joy of gathering their natural resources everyday never gets old.  I still look at each and every egg as the wonder that it is.  All of our animals give back to us in one way or another, as far as working for us in the pack business, etc., but the chickens actually provide food for our table!  They have become wonderful companions as well and we all laugh as I look like the pied piper as I do my chores with a line of chickens following behind.

Many towns and even cities are allowing people to raise up to six chickens in their back yards now to help people become more self sustainable, and it is a move I would highly recommend.  Obviously, the first step is to check and make sure it is legal in your neck of the woods, so to speak, because the only big investment you put into chickens is in the initial set up.  But, if you are resourceful, you can build a coop out of recycled materials like we did.
If you are not into raising your very own chickens, I would highly recommend finding a neighbor that does and buy eggs from them.  It is a win win situation for everyone; you get great eggs, they get to share their bounty while making a little bit of money, and as for the chickens... well, they'll just keep on doing what comes naturally!
MMMM...I think I smell some eggs and bacon cooking.....

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Building an empire, with a broken back!

Indian Paintbrush

Good Morning!  I must be getting my sense of humor back.  Yesterday Tom was complaining about having to cut firewood and my response was that he was doing nothing, I had been building us an empire all the while with a broken back.  I don't know if the two of us have laughed that hard in a long time!

Dried Indian Paintbrush
Seriously though, it has made me take a look at how I do things around here, and how I will need to do things for the next few months, no matter which course of treatment I choose to go with.  Now that I know there is a nerve problem, I need to take it seriously and try to take care of it.  I am already asking for more help with the chores (I say this as we head out to pick up six chickens that need a new home!), but I have also tried to rearrange my days a bit; especially as far as my business goes. 

Box of mixed wildflower seeds and pods

Actually, there are a lot of things that need tending to for my businesses to grow and I would love to start on my next children's book so I will just whittle down my to do list.  For instance, last summer I collected wildflower seeds for an idea I have for my gardening line to expand this spring.  Yesterday I took the opportunity to get to work on those.  I would sit for a half hour and hand process seeds, stand for a half  hour and do dishes or prepare dinner, and go back to the seeds for a little bit.  To pop open the seed pod and to see the seeds perfectly  waiting in a row to be harvested was a reminder of what a wondrous thing Mother Nature really is.  So, even when I have to slow down a bit, I am blessed to have jobs that remind me of what a miracle this world is to live in.  The point is, I can keep myself active and occupied, continue to keep my businesses moving forward, and not feel like I am losing touch with things.  Like I said, I can still build my empire even with a broken back-ha!!!

Hand processed wildflower seeds

Friday, January 8, 2010

DOE: Doing Their Jobs

Good Morning!  I have become a real cynic when it comes to branches of the government, and how they do their jobs; so I was really excited to read this article at Earth911.  It appears that some of the refrigerator makers are not quite as "green" as they have claimed to be, and they have been stripped of their Energy Star status.  Now, that in itself is not good news, but the fact the the Department of Energy is staying on top of it and not letting the Energy Star "label" become just another marketing scam made me very happy.
According to Earth911 the Energy Star label is growing by leaps and bounds with both consumers and manufacturers.  "The ENERGY STAR label informs consumers of the most energy efficient products in a particular product category. According to the DOE, ensuring that the labels are applied only to products that deliver on the promised energy and cost savings creates “an even playing field in the marketplace and reduces pollution.” says Jennifer Barry of Earth911.
Until now, the Energy Star label was mostly just to help a consumer decide which product will save them the most money and electricity, as well as being as earth friendly as possible; but starting in March many states will have tax rebates as incentive programs.  Once again Earth911 came to my rescue with a great map that you can just click on your state and it will tell you which appliances qualify in your state!  You can find that map here.
I am pretty excited, because my washer and dryer are both on their very last legs and as of March these appliances will be on the list for Colorado.  Now, if I can just get them to last until then...

Have a miracle of a day!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Free Family Fun

Good Morning!  Well, I am feeling a little blue this morning as the kids head back to school today.  I told my daughter that it was going to be boring to play Yahtzee by myself today-ha!  You see, for the past three days we have been playing just about every game in the game closet.  The timing has been perfect; I have been able to rest my aching body and check book (the check book hurts almost as bad as my hips!) and it has been a wonderful way to wrap up the kids' Christmas break!
I come from a long line of game players, it's true, but it is such a great way to spend time with your family.  We played games a lot when we were growing up and one of my fondest memories from visiting Iowa as a child was all of the poker playing we did.  It was a great family event that I will remember forever and love passing those types of memories down to my kids.  I know that my poor Dad will never forget us girls all playing Spoons as we travelled across the country.  I don't think we could have chosen a noisier game to play after he had been driving for days, but that thought never occurred to us at the time!
Games really bring out the best (and sometimes the worst-ha!) in your kids.  I have found that games are a great way to bring out the strong suit in each of my kids, and really let the spotlight shine on that child's specific talents (for instance the math whiz can be the banker, and the great organizer can hold all of the properties, etc).  No matter what game we play we can introduce some sort of math, and most games include strategy, which really gets their minds moving. 
Even the experts that I usually disagree with say that when the kids are involved with another activity, they are more likely to open up to talking about their lives in general, which I have found to be true.  The stuff that I learn around the game table and while I'm preparing dinner are the snippets of information every parent searches for!  So, haul out that old game of Monopoly and let the family miracles commence!!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Call for Advice

Good Morning!  If you are one of my regular readers, you would remember a couple of weeks ago when I posted about having some pretty severe problems with my hips for two years.  I went to a doctor that my parents recommended who thankfully was within my Kaiser network and have gotten some interesting news back.  It appears that I have two bulging discs and one herniated disc, that is pinching nerves.  Well, no wonder my hips were killing me!
Kaiser of course is recommending surgery on the herniated disc, as a matter of fact, neurosurgery called me to set up an appointment before I had even processed this news.  When I spoke with the doctor initially to get the results from the MRI I made it quite clear that I was adamantly against surgeries and asked her how she felt about alternative therapies for this sort of thing.  She said that she would have suggested Yoga, but since I have been practicing that very loyally for the past two years, that is obviously not helping.  The problem she says is that the herniated disc is higher than usual, it is the disc between T12 and L1, which means it is at the bottom of my rib cage, not at the lower back, where discs normally slip.  This makes it more important to the support and functionality of my organs.
I have not had great luck with surgeries in the past, as a matter of fact I could probably write a book on the subject.  Not that I've ever had drastic problems with anesthesia or anything, just looking back on things I think I would do things very differently now.  But, I'm scared to death of Chiropractors too.  We have a friend that passed away one hour after seeing his chiropractor suddenly at the age of 50, he had just had a medical work up for new insurance and was one of the healthiest people we knew.  Now, I know it is crazy, but I have always had an odd feeling about his death (could be shock) and you know I don't take my odd feelings lightly.  Really, I do not mean to offend the chiropractic loving people out there, I'm just sharing my own personal fear.
So, I really have a quandary on my hands.  I'm a skeptic of the medical field anyway, scared of alternative healers (not necessarily the methods) and wonder if they are what they say they are, but don't want to go through a couple more years of pain.  In situations like these, who do you turn to for advice?  Your friends and family of course.  I'd really like to hear what you all have to say on this subject, do you have horror stories, or recommendations?  I'd really love to hear any stories of miracles, of course!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Ecopreneur vs. Enviropreneur

Good morning!  You know how one thing tends to always lead to another?  Well, that is exactly what happened to me this morning when I decided to do a little research for today's post.  I have been feeling a little guilty about my environmentally friendly side.  Ever since I found out about the removal of all of my recycling centers, it sort of let the air out of my "green"balloon.  I must confess, I haven't even been as careful about unplugging my computer because it all seems like such a hassle and that sometimes I am the only person that really gives a hoot.  Well, we know that's not true, so as usual I decided to use this blog to keep myself focused, or my eyes on the prize so to speak.
Since I had spoken negatively about Yahoo groups, I decided to go back there (and give it a second try) to look for some environmentally friendly groups and some input for today's post.  Nothing really caught my eye (I don't think I have the hang of searching through the huge array available yet) so I decided to google Ecopreneur, which is what I call myself.  Don't ask me where I got the name, I just really liked it; and it is exactly what I am, an entrepreneur that is eco-conscious.  All of my businesses are based on some sort of environmentally friendly concept, so it couldn't be more fitting right?  Well, if it weren't a registered trademark it couldn't, that is!
I did find some very rewarding words as to what it is I'm trying to accomplish though at WiseGeek:
Many people believe that an ecologically-focused entrepreneur represents the best of the business world, finding a way to support him or herself while also helping the environment. The success of green businesses has also provided a workable economic model for preserving the environment, proving that it is economically sensible, sound, and profitable to care about the environment. An ecologically-focused entrepreneur who fills a unique niche like the need for biodegradable packaging can set the bar for future companies in the industry, showing companies how they can develop ecologically friendly factories and business practices.
I also thought the questions from Ecopreneurist to ask your self to see if you might fit the bill of an ecopreneur (they must not know about the trademark either-ha!) were great:
◦Are you more interested in what you do and with whom you work than how much you make?

◦Does community, environmental and social issues drive what you focus on with respect to your livelihood or volunteer time?

◦Do you view your experiences, growing and diverse knowledge base and unique skills sets as the primary value you can offer clients, customers or workplace?

◦Do you think the late Nobel Laureate economist Milton Friedman ate too many Big Macs after he argued — much to the chagrin of the massive multinational corporations and millionaire politicians — that “the only social responsibility of business is to make profits”?
◦Do you focus your life pursuits on helping others or restoring, enhancing or preserving the environment?

◦Are you more concerned about achieving balance in your life, seeking quality of life that doesn’t adversely impact the Earth or exploit people?

◦Do you readily try new ideas, explore new ways of doing things or adopt new practices or use new products or services that reflect your values?

◦Are you mindfully aware of your direct and indirect impacts on life on Earth, and accept responsibility that results in you being actively engaged as a steward of limited resources for the benefit of all life, not just for the present generations but for future generations as well?

◦Is work a reflection of your passions and values, deeply fulfilling and providing meaning and purpose, or merely only the focus for paying the bills, building personal wealth and funding your retirement?
So, Enviropreneur it is.  Oops hold on a second, I better go google that too, I'll be right back.  Whew, that just came back with what I would have expected, no trademarks-ha!!!  Although I didn't save you thousands on your energy bill today, or figure out the problem of global warming; I may have saved us all (okay, just me) from a needless lawsuit!
Make a miracle today!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Metaphysical Monday

Good Morning!  Wow!  I have figured out why this is such a touchy subject!  I recently e-mailed a friend who is very active in many homeschooling networks to ask her how to get my foot in the door with local homeschoolers for my author visits for Llucky Llama.  She gave me a great link to a group on Yahoo.  I am probably only behind the times by a decade or so, but this was my first adventure into Yahoo groups.  It was really quite impressive, so I thought I'd type in the word Metaphysical and see what came up.  I was shocked when there was 1,134 groups that were labeled with this word.
Shocked and dismayed I might add.  While many of them looked pretty good at first glance, when I went to read the description they were really oddball sounding.  Some of them I couldn't even pronounce the names of so I just skipped right over most of those.  I did click on one (it was even called Spiritual Growth!), and that is when I got really concerned.  The only links that I saw were questions like "If you weren't brainwashed before the age of ten, why would you believe in God?", and in defense of many of the answers (at least as many as I could stomach) were things like "I came to the lord as an adult".
Come on people, really?  There are people, like myself, out there searching for answers to unexplained questions and this is what they find?  While my belief in God is very strong, so is my belief that odd things happen to very "normal", god loving people.  I also firmly believe that God has a hand in everything, including the odd things that are being talked about on those same sites!  No wonder people shy away from this subject, and no wonder I have been a little afraid of it myself.
Well, I guess I accomplished one thing, and that was my resolve to keep trying to find some connections.  Connections with people in the same boat as I am, and connections with my "abilities" and why God gave them to me.  Unless you read it here on my blog, don't believe a word you read-ha!!!
Make a miracle today!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Royal Ranch Royalty: a follow-up

Hi all, I wrote this last weekend and never got it published due to a lack of a good picture.  As you can see, I got a great opportunity when the tough biker and his even tougher dog were catchinga nap-ha! 
Good Sunday Morning!  I hope you all are recovering from Christmas; I spent the day yesterday alternating between eating, napping and trying to organize all of those gifts (thanks Mom and Dad!).  The napping and eating pretty much won out, but I did have to get a lot of stuff put up and away because of the puppy.  Which brings me to my Royal Ranch Royalty: the follow-up.  I am very proud to say that our puppy, Iowa, is doing wonderfully.  I got so many nice comments and e-mails from people that were concerned about our little baby, that I knew you all would like to hear about how she is doing.
Being the tough little scrapper that she is after a week in the chilly corn fields in Iowa, recovering from her very serious illness did not take her long.  She is already the weight of a normal puppy her size and will be ready to start her vaccinations next week.  This is one place I would like to jump on my soapbox for a second;  please, please do not over vaccinate your animals.  I have studied (quite extensively) and done research here at my own ranch and have found that animals that get what society considers "regular" vaccinations, are very much over vaccinated and their immune systems do not function as well as the ones that I have raised and been careful with.  I do all of the puppy/kitten/whatever shots that are normally done with young ones; after that I only do what is absolutely necessary for legal purposes, like rabies.  So, next time you get that postcard from the vet regarding your pets annual vaccinations, really think twice about it.
I am going to start over with Iowa's shots, because we have to assume that she was not vaccinated at all.  It worries me a bit that she will get too much, but it is better to play it safe when they are pups.  Also, it gives my vet another couple of chances to really get to know her and for him to check her out to make sure she is entirely over her terrible bout of illness.
Iowa is now just a normal puppy, chewing on everything in sight.  She is a blanky addict and comes running as fast as she can to the nearest blanket and dives head first into it making a grunting noise.  She is always hopeful that one of her humans is in the blanky with her and the she just works her way right onto his/her lap. We are wondering how it is going to work when she is a huge dog, but we'll have to cross that bridge when we come to it.   She has been an absolute peach to house train, her only accidents are when the kids are in charge of her.  We have to physically make her go outside (again, this will be quite a feat when she is 100 lbs or so), and the kids sometimes get a little side tracked.  But, when you do put her out, she goes right out to do her business and comes back and sits at the door.
Tia and Iowa are great playmates.  Tia is our Great Pyrenees that was given to me as a gift, she is only a little more than a year old and is ecstatic to have a friend to play with.  If the weather is warm enough, the two puppies will play in the yard for hours, chasing each other in big circles as fast as their very clumsy legs will take them.  I am trying to catch a video of it, but everytime I go outside with them they stop and stare at me for treats-they're no dummies, they know I always have them in my pocket!
We feel very blessed to have Iowa in our family.  We know in our heart of hearts that she was meant to live at The Royal Ranch.  We still are a little in shock that we had to travel 650 miles to rescue her little butt, but very happy we did so.  Oh, and I suppose visiting the family (that I love dearly) was okay too-ha!!!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Playing the "disability" card

Good Morning!  I had to laugh at myself this morning.  I am so stubborn that I don't even know when I am fooling myself.  You see, I have really had a hard time lately with my "Author Bio & Publicity Package".  I can write a daily blog, and I can write a children's book, but when it comes to writing about me I came to a dead standstill.  As a matter of fact, the bio that will be included in the book is written by my friend and designer Vivian Rosso.
Well, by the time the book comes out I need to have my website up and running.  Which means I need to have all of my publicity stuff ready to go.  I also plan on having things on the website to prepare people for their author visits; like llama activities and fun facts.  I have decided that I will have a number of different presentations for schools/organizations to choose from so that people will not only get exposed to my book, but my way of life as well.  Whether that be a connection with rescuing animals, respecting mother earth or a love of reading and writing, who knows?
I've realized over the last few days that part of my problem started when I wanted to focus on special needs groups and my connections with them.  Which brings up the fact that I am special needs.  What?  I am not!!!  That is what the very stubborn part of me continues to shout, but the facts are what they are.  I caught myself asking myself "do you really want to play the disability card?", and had to think, what the hell does that mean?  It is not as if I plan on using my epilepsy to gain fame and fortune, it is a way of connecting with others with special needs and sharing the things that I have come to love so dearly.  Many of whom are special needs themselves!
And since when did the word special start to have a negative tone?  Oh yeah, only when I'm talking about myself!  I may have to take special precautions and medications, but I also have special talents to share and want to bring out the love and passion of those things in others.  So, I will talk just a tiny bit on my new authors website about my disability and I will do it with pride (gulp!) because I would never want any of my visiting groups to think I thought any less of them!!!
Oh, and by the way, (thank you very much!) writing this post today helped me work through something else.  I have been a little concerned about certain groups not being able to pay for an author visit, whether it be a ranch visit or one to their location; and as I typed I have decided that Royal Ranch Publishing, LLC will have a few grants each year for deserving recipients.  Another question I need to put on the list for the bookkeeper!
Make a miracle today!

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Royal Ranch: A look back at 09 and what's to come for 2010

Happy New Year!!  Sometimes you don't realize how good a year has been, or how much you have accomplished if you don't take a good hard look back and then prepare, and possibly adjust your plans for the upcoming year.  So, you will have to bear with me while I relive the past year for my businesses and look forward to 2010.
It was one year ago today that I lost my job doing chores for and shoveling you know what for a vet that the relationship had been going south for quite some time.  What I was shoveling on a daily basis was a good metaphor for how things were going at that time.  Boy, did things change from there.  It's kind of funny, because I can't say we are any better off financially yet, but I can honestly say that the money is not as important to me either.  I am now entirely working for myself and my family and I couldn't be prouder.  Plus, all of the projects that have come up since then are things that take time to build, but will make us an income for a lifetime.
It started with Naked~Nure; our organic llama manure "tea bags".  It really is a fabulous concept.  We use the nutrient rich llama manure and put it into two various sizes (one for indoor and one for outdoor) of organic, over-sized tea bags.  The reaction from the public has been very supportive so I know it is a great product.  I have come up with some new ideas though that I am going to launch in the Spring because I came up with some great ways to bring the cost down.  It is always a good thing to make a great product cheaper! 
The creation of Naked~Nure led us to its wonderful logo with Naked Johnny; which we have now created a line of organic shirts with.  I also plan on expanding from simply Naked~Nure to an entire line of organic gardening supplies such as handpicked, very hardy wildflower seeds, other types of high nutrient, organic manures and even specialty picnicking supplies; made by yours truly or other artists who have great products I love and support.
One of my biggest accomplishments of 2009 was the completion of my children's book Llucky Llama.   It is a story about my lead llama Marcel and his adventures since arriving here at The Royal Ranch.  The story is one that was important for me to tell because it talks a lot about my rescue animals and the love they have brought into our lives and that they share with each other, with just a touch of humor of course.  This project is one that I really put my heart and soul in.  I hand picked an illustrator from right here in my own little town that is a freshman in college.  I also chose one of my best friends to do the layout of the book, which is a little different as I usually have a rule to not work with friends, but Viv is the very best.  It was important to me to stay local and to use people that I knew would bring good karma to the project and do it for the love of their art and the strong belief in my book.
It is now just a matter of time (waiting for the ISBN #'s) and it will be in print!  I think the thing I am most excited about is my marketing plan for this book.  With the dawn of the new year is the dawn of my new marketing network; and it is a place I am already quite familiar with, schools.  I plan to do author visits with Marcel in tow to get the word out about my book.  To me this is such a great win win situation because I will get to see the kids' reaction when they hear my book, and they will get to see a llama up close and personal!
The ranch itself has even seen quite a bit of growth this year.  With the addition of the chickens we have added farm raised eggs to our repertoire.  I hope to raise some chicks in the Spring as well.  The sheep have been a wonderful addition and we are all so anxious for the lambs that will arrive in early March.  The Royal Roost, our "Nest in the Woods" as I call it, saw huge growth this summer and is now having its first return visitors, which we take as a huge compliment.  This winter will be our first to rent snow shoes, not having too much luck with that yet, but haven't done any advertising.  That is another thing on my to do list for the new year.
It's kind of funny, I'm feeling a little bit like a hibernating bear, just waiting for springtime to consume a huge amount of calories, but for me it will be work.  I feel quite confident that my gardening line will take off when mother nature comes back to life, especially with the new products in mind.  It will also be early Spring before our renters move out and I can get to work on my Studio.  I am plan on turning half of their house into a B&B similar to the Royal Roost, and the other half I am going to use as a networking studio (more on that as it becomes a little clearer).
I've got to say one of the most rewarding experiences of 2009 was starting this blog.  It has been a lot of fun for me to meet so many nice people with similar interests.  This blog has also been a great networking tool for my business adventures and if you've ever thought of trying one, I would highly suggest you do it! 
So, I'm feeling like I need to spend the next few months marketing my book and preparing for Spring, I think that all of the groundwork that I have laid is really going to come to life in 2010!  So, today remember the miracles that you have already created and figure out how they are going to continue to work for you!