Tag-Archive for » North Dakota «

June 20th, 2009 | Author:

Everyone’s story starts somewhere.  You never were the only one who caused something to happen.  My business was not because of me.  I had a long chain reaction to get to where I am today.

  • I have a business book coming out in 2010.
  • I wouldn’t have written my book if I hadn’t done my 12 Biz Tips of Christmas on this blog.
  • I wouldn’t have a blog if I didn’t have my business.
  • I wouldn’t have started my business if my Pencil Bugs hadn’t been so popular at the craft fair.
  • I wouldn’t have had to come up with my own idea if my mom would have let me help her paint her wooden door stoppers for the craft fair.
  • She wouldn’t have been doing the door stoppers if grandma didn’t ask her if she wanted to take part in the craft fair.
  • Grandma wouldn’t have been  in the craft fair if she wouldn’t have been painting watercolor greeting cards.
  • Grandma wouldn’t have started watercolor painting if mom hadn’t encouraged her to try something new.

I could go back even farther but you see how this works.  When someone asks me how I got started, I usually give them the condensed version and simply say that it all started from a craft that my grandma was doing in North Dakota.  Everything has many more steps in the process to get you to where you are today. 

As you can see, it was not just my doing to create my business.  It was thanks to what many people did.  Remember that everything you do will affect someone else.  If any one of these pieces to my puzzle were missing, I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing now.  You can’t do anything alone and every move you make will fill into someone else’s chain reaction.

January 19th, 2009 | Author:

#4 – Over 14,000 text messages – Get real!


I don’t watch much news on TV because it’s mostly bad news and my parents don’t think I need to see that all the time.  But I do see some headlines on Yahoo once in awhile.  This one was pretty silly.  The 14-year-old girl that texted over 14,000 messages in one month!

First of all, girls are different.  They giggle a lot, get in stupid fights over silly stuff like who copied whose hairstyle, talk on the phone more than boys, and probably text more often.  But any kid, no matter if it’s a boy or girl, that has time to text that many messages must not be doing much else or have parents that pay too much attention to what she’s doing.

My parents gave me a cell phone last year when I started 6th grade for emergencies only because my school was several miles from our house and mom has to drive me there and back.  She wanted to make sure I had access to her even though the school has rules about keeping cell phones in our lockers all day.  And my cell phone isn’t even an expensive one – it’s the pay-as-you-go kind without even a camera option.  I use it so little that I don’t even use up the minimum number of minutes we have to buy each time.  So texting isn’t something I do either and can’t imagine how anyone could text that much.   And if I were on the phone that much, my mom or dad would for sure know what I was doing and wouldn’t let me keep doing it.

The thing that really bugs me is that the news was all over this story.   This girl even made the national news because my grandma in North Dakota saw it and the kid lives in southern California.  How dumb is that?  It just goes to show you that the news focuses on more bad things than good stories.   What’s wrong with this picture?

January 12th, 2009 | Author:

#1 – Textbooks are great for the basics but nothing beats common sense and practical experience.

Before all the teachers and principals get all crazy, I’ve always liked school and am an A-student.  BUT . . . as I get older, it seems like we waste more and more time in school.   I even go to a private school and it’s not much different than public schools except that there are fewer kids and it’s not as dangerous as most public schools.   But as far as what we actually do in class and how the time is spent, it doesn’t make much sense.

Probably ever person who’s ever gone to school has had to memorize things now and then.  I can see that makes sense for things like speech meets or famous history speeches but memorizing isn’t really learning because for most people, you forget it as soon as you have to perform it especially if you weren’t really that interested in the subject to begin with.  It doesn’t take a college graduate to figure out that memorizing is short-term and learning information lasts longer.  I’m only 13.  I wonder why teachers haven’t figured that out about memorizing?

My mom went to back to college about 10 years after she graduated from high school.  Right out of high school, she got her hairdresser license because that’s what she always wanted to do.   She worked for a few years in North Dakota until she moved to California, then had to quit so she worked in the corporate world, as they say, for a lot of years until people kept telling her she just had to get a college degree.   She always said the piece of paper wouldn’t make her any smarter but finally decided to do college anyway.   So she worked full-time and went to school part-time to get her paralegal degree and graduated the top of her class.  The funny part was, she ended up not ever working in a law office because she was making a lot more money already and would have had to start over.  And even though she was the top of her class, she couldn’t get hired because she didn’t have any law office experience.  So it didn’t matter what she learned in all the textbooks, they wanted people with experience.  Funny how that worked.

But back to memorizing.  She tells this story a lot.  In one of her law classes, someone asked how lawyers can remember all the cases they talk about in court.   The teacher who was a lawyer too, said a smart person doesn’t need to remember; they just need to know where to look it up.

I really like that philosophy because I think it’s true for most things.  If you’re taught how to do something instead of just memorizing what someone gives you, I think you’ll turn out much smarter in the long run.  It’s like learning to play piano.  If someone sits there and shows you how to play chopsticks and all you do is follow and memorize it, that’s not teaching you how to play any other songs because you didn’t learn how to read music.  You only memorized that one song.

I’m really lucky that my mom and dad have taught me the things they have, especially since I started my business.  For instance, just today, I got my bank statement so I had to balance my checkbook for my business.  While I was doing that, my mom asked me if I could ever remember in any of my math classes if they’ve ever taught us about business or banking or something simple like how to balance a checkbook against a bank statement.  I couldn’t remember any class that did and neither could she.

They teach the basics out of textbooks.  That’s pretty much it.  I guess they figure the rest will come in college or when we’re already in a job.  I think of all the things I’ve learned since I started my business that most kids miss out on because schools don’t teach any of it.

I know there are certain rules schools have to follow to get kids through but it sure would be a whole lot better for all kids if schools could figure out a way to teach more practical things that would be useful in the real world when we grow up.

If anyone is thinking, “I wonder if his mom or dad know about this blog,” here’s the deal.   I don’t get to write my blog or do any Pencil Bugs business online without my parents’ okay.   Mom always knows what I’m writing and edits if necessary before it’s officially posted.   Mom’s e-mail address in on my website contact page if anyone ever wants to e-mail her.

January 05th, 2009 | Author:

#3 – Everything in moderation


This is one of my grandpa’s favorite sayings.   He’s 84 years old so he should know.   This can be applied to almost anything; working, eating, or even playing.

Sometimes people work so hard at something they forget to stop and see if it’s working.   Or they do it so much, it gets boring or old and then they can’t stand to do it anymore.   It might have been the best idea but they didn’t know how to keep things in perspective and not overdo it.

The same things happens with me and fun stuff.   Even though I have limits on how long I can play on the computer or play video games, sometimes even playing fun things too much can be a bad thing. 

I bet everyone could find something that they’ve overdone at least once in their life.  Then think how much better it would have been if you had just done it in moderation.  Something to think about as my grandpa says.

Another thing that’s much better in moderation is SNOW.  I had lots of fun at my grandparents’ farm in North Dakota during Christmas digging out a snow fort in a very large snow bank.  (Check Dec. 30 post for those pictures and story.)  We spent quite a long time making it big enough for three people to fit into and it was really cool in more ways than one.   But after we left to come home, they’ve had one blizzard after another.  Grandma sent me a picture of what used to be my fort.  As you can see, it’s totally covered up with several feet of new snow.   No fort door, no nothing.   The snow was too much of a good thing.

Grandpa is sick and tired of plowing out the snow in the yard for hours so he can get to the cattle to feed them hay.  He says enough is enough!  I guess the weather hasn’t heard his saying, “everything in moderation.”

December 30th, 2008 | Author:

I wished for a white Christmas this year and I really got it.  We left sunny (well, sort of rainy) southern California last week before Christmas and flew to my grandparents’ farm in the middle of North Dakota.  I wanted enough snow to make a snowman or at least have a snowball fight with my dad but we didn’t want to have bad weather on the days we were flying.

The plane made it to Bismarck on time but since it was pretty late on Dec. 23, my grandma and grandpa didn’t want to take a chance driving on the highway the 40 miles at night so my mom’s sister came to pick us up at the airport and we stayed with them that night.

It was COOOOOOOOLLLLLDDDDDD!!!  No, it was FREEEEEEEEZING!  and tons of snow!

Snowball fight

Snowball fight

The next day, my grandma came to pick us up and we drove to their farm.  Even more snow!  About 2 feet all over but around the yard where my grandpa scooped the snow up into huge piles so they could drive to the road, there was even more snow.   I had never seen that much snow . . .  EVER!  The funny thing was, the snow was really fluffy and dry because it was so cold which meant it wasn’t good for making snowballs or snowmen but my dad and I still played around throwing snow at each other for awhile.

On Christmas day, the temperature got up to around 15 degrees above zero so grandma and I put on our snow suits, bundled up and started to dig out a snow fort.  Near their house, the wind had blown and piled up a snow bank about 6-7 feet high.  That’s where we started digging a hole.

Beginning of snow fort

Beginning of snow fort

By the time Mom came out all bundled up, Grandma and I had already dug a hole in the snow bank about 3-feet deep.  Mom decided it wasn’t big enough compared to the snow fort she and her sisters had made when they were kids so her and I kept digging into the snow bank farther and farther.  

New snow drift over snow fort door

New snow drift over snow fort door

We dug out enough snow to make the fort about 8 feet across but it was only about 4 feet high so you had to crawl in and then couldn’t really sit up straight.  The next day it snowed again and blew which made the door get half covered with more new snow.  It also piled up on top of the hill so the weight of the new snow made the height inside even lower which meant the next day we had to do more digging and shoveling out of snow.

Bigger snow fort

Bigger snow fort

Once it was fairly big inside, I decided to try and experiment by digging a small hole in the side of the wall and then I stuck a plastic bottle of root beer in to see how long it would take to get cold and frosty.   After an hour or so when I thought it should have been really slushy, it was only about as cold as the refrigerator.  Grandma said it was because the snow actually acted like an insulator and wouldn’t let it freeze.  It would have gotten colder if I would have just left it sitting on the ground outside.

I’d had enough for awhile so after I went in the house to warm up and play cards with Grandma, my mom and dad walked around the yard taking pictures of everything covered with snow.   Then Dad decided to make a snow angel so here’s that video.   Click this link.  Snow Angel Dad

Dad, Me, and Mom

Dad, Me, and Mom

Then when it finally warmed up to about 22 degrees on Christmas day, we hurried outside and had Grandma take a family picture.  Mom had the bright idea to use this as our 2009 Christmas card.  Even though that was the warmest it got all week, it was still too cold to be outside without coats.

It was a fun week and went by way too fast.  I’ve been lucky to go to their farm almost every summer but I’ve only been there twice for Christmas and the last time was a long time ago. 

The day we left Bismarck, North Dakota on the plane, it was delayed over an hour before taking off.  We made our connection in Minneapolis to San Diego but didn’t get home and in bed until after 2 a.m. which was really 4 a.m. on body time.  So it was a very long trip home.

Now, I’ve got just 5 more days until school starts again.