The Stinky Life

by Leah Lamp

“I realized I had become a permanent resident of Mars which turns out to be a very gaseous planet.”

I grew up roughly 1,000 miles from where my grandparents lived and because of the distance, I didn’t get to see them very often. When I did get to visit them, I was particularly impressed with my grandfather. He was an admirable man. Even though he only went to school through the 10th grade he was one of the wisest men I’ve ever known. He served in WWII and after the war went on to provide for his wife and nine kids by owning a carpentry business and a hardware store. But as a small child, I didn’t know all of this, I just knew how people treated him. When he spoke, people listened and many came to him for his advice. Also in a room full of family talking all around him, my grandfather would randomly lean over on one butt cheek and fart…loud! No one would acknowledge it at all, there would be no lull in the conversation. That’s impressive to a young girl!

I was raised in an all female household. My dad was in my life but not in my home. It was me, my sister, my mom and my aunt. We loved to laugh. We laughed all the time but bodily functions were not in our repertoire of jokes. They just weren’t. So when I grew up and got married I was in for a bit of culture shock and that my grandfather was not so unusual. You see, the longer I was married the more I came to realize that while girls are girls, women are women and boys are boys, men are…boys. I would say grown up boys but then, not so much. Sorry guys, but your sense of humor reaches maturity in the 7th grade.

Then to prove that God has a sense of humor he blessed us with a son…and then another son…and then another son. If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, I realized I had become a permanent resident of Mars which turns out to be a very gaseous planet.

Me, my three boys and my boy husband all love to laugh and farting is the height of hilarity at my house. I will never cease to be amazed at the euphemisms associated with farting; pooting (or a drive by pooting), cutting the cheese, launching an air biscuit. I could go on…and on. So when I found myself pregnant with a little girl…AH!..I was so overjoyed! I was never really a girly-girl but suddenly baby dolls, ribbons and hair bows filled my head. Then the idea of pink ruffled revenge became to take shape. Finally, I had someone on MY side, someone to help me take back the house a little.

So I gave birth to this perfect, sweet, beautiful little girl. When my boys, aged 10, 8, and 6, came to the hospital to meet her, my husband placed the precious bundle in the arms of my oldest son and the other boys gathered around. It was so funny to see the abject fear on their faces at this…thing. They hovered over her as if she were a bomb that could explode at any moment which is a very apt description because at that moment this loud, long and juicy sounding fart emanated from my sweet baby girl. It was at this precise moment that two things happened; it was then that I got to see my three boys fall completely in love with their baby sister and it was the moment that I realized…she was one of THEM!

Leah Lamp

Leah Lamp

About the Author:

Leah Lamp is an aspiring writer who loves to laugh and hates broccoli and any form of housework. She lives in the piney woods of Texas with her husband, four stinky kids, and an even stinkier hound dog. You can visit her blog at

Zeus vs. Odin

by Kandas Nesbitt-Rodarte

…a gift from the weather gods.

When Hurricane Ike put our lives on hold in September 2008 we celebrated the simplicity. We dined with neighbors, sharing our food and resources. We read, because there was no TV or internet. We went outside, because there was nothing to keep us inside. We cleaned up our yard, because it was messy!   It was wonderful.   Today, we look back at Hurricane Ike as a gift from the weather gods.

Lightening Storm over Montgomery County, Texas

Lightening Storm over Montgomery County, Texas

The other night we dropped everything we were doing to sit outside on the curb and watch Zeus battle it out with Odin in the clouds above our neighborhood.  The only sounds we heard were the crickets and the occasional passing car.  However, the sky put on a show for us that is well worth sharing.  Enjoy!

What are some of your favorite weather stories? Leave them in the comments below.


Boba Fett and Kandas Nesbitt-Rodarte

Boba Fett and Kandas Nesbitt-Rodarte

About the Author:

Kandas Nesbitt-Rodarte founded in 1999. She is a pioneer in online custom furniture sales, award-winning speaker, coffee lover, Sci-Fi fan, mom, NADA certified Archery instructor, Girl Scout leader and all-around groovy woman.  Not necessarily in that order.   When she isn’t hanging out with her good pal, Bobba Fett, Kandas can be found teaching small business owners how she grew her custom furniture business by replacing traditional advertising with an Appreciation Marketing System.

Don’t You Just Hate It When They Give You Pickles?

pickle_1Several years ago, I attended a Girl Scout volunteer training entitled “Give Them the Pickle.” It was a customer service workshop meant to inspire leaders and volunteers to serve the needs and wants of the girls based on what the girls wanted, and not what we as leaders wanted them to do.

This lesson easily transitions into business and life. You can’t sell a customer the product you want them to purchase. You can only sell them the product they want to buy!  I have proof of this fact in the form of a very beautiful handcrafted solid cherry king-size bed that our furniture studio made in hopes of finding a buyer before Christmas.

This post isn’t about customer service.  It’s about perspective.

“First World Problems Read by Third World People” is a video produced by Water is Life featuring Haitian people reading actual Tweets by people living in the First World. The mission of Water is Life is to bring clean drinking water to those who need it.

Close your eyes and imagine YOUR life without clean drinking water. Now watch this video:

The next time “they” give you pickles when you ask for no pickles, can you just say thank you and be grateful?

How to Change a Flat Tire in the Desert (or anywhere) by Stephanie Hall

Guest Post by Stephanie Hall

I dig cars.  In truth, I don’t dig cars as much as I dig “getting” cars and being able to talk with people about cars.  Especially men; men mechanics to be specific.  And, if they are being honest, they kinda dig it that a woman “gets” cars.  The basics are pretty simple – fuel, O2, fire.  It’s a simple formula for combustion that’s been around for a very long time.  Since the advent of fire.

There are some simple truths that everyone needs to know about cars – if they drive somewhere other than downtown Manhattan.  One of the biggest truths is: how to change a tire.

I presented a speech at a Toastmasters meeting about tire changing.  (More on TM at some other time).  One of the big tenets we support is positive feedback.  Someone in the group didn’t quite get the positive aspect of the feedback and handed me an unsigned note: “I’D Call AAA”.  Yes, I am SURE you would.  Snarky to be sure, but something most people truly believe.  They will NEVER be in a position to “Change a Tire.”  They would call AAA.

Let me give you a scenario.  Me, a 14 year old son, a 4 year old daughter and my ex-spouse; driving from central TX to southeast NM.  In a Suburban.  There are places in NM where cell phones do NOT work.  Trust me on this one.  Somewhere between Carlsbad, NM and Las Cruces, NM in the middle of the desert, I heard a noise.  It was a distinct sound, but not one that immediately said, “Danger.”  After a moment, I realized what the noise indicated – Flat Tire!!!  Have you looked at map lately?  Between Carlsbad and Las Cruces lay miles and miles and miles of … Nothing.  It’s a desert region.  Cell phones do not work in many parts of this area.  Even if they do, how long do you think you will be waiting in the desert for AAA?  I did not want to find out.  So we unloaded ourselves, set up some shade for the little people and set out to change the tire.

Let’s take a break here.  It was Spring Break time, so March.  Even in March, the desert does not care who is stuck in its midst.  The desert is beautiful, wonderful and awe inspiring.  It is also hot, dry and heartless.  The desert will consume whosoever and whatsoever is not prepared for existence in its midst.  It is not evil, it just IS.  Get used to that as a fact.

At this time, knowing how to change a tire was essential.  I am glad, and proud, that I KNEW what to do.   Let me give you some info so YOU will know what to do.  I hope you never are called upon to do this, but just in case, you will at minimum have the information you need to keep going.

Tire changing basics:

First and foremost – get off the road.  Yes, some tires can be expensive.  Yes, it can totally destroy a tire to drive on it flat – and add in the cost of a rim for good measure.  But what is your life worth?  I know a man who lost an eye.  He got a load of money, but do you think for one minute he wouldn’t trade the cash for his sight?  So, sit back for a moment and imagine what your family would go through if you were suddenly dead.   It can be that serious.

Not for us on that day.  We simply had to find a suitable pull-out.  “Suitable” means level – as in: as flat as you can get for safety sake and away from traffic.

Now, check traffic – in our case, what traffic?  No cars for Miles and Miles.  Ok, your safety is assured.

You will need the tools necessary.  If you drive, familiarize yourself with the location of your tools!!  (Check your owner’s manual BEFORE you need this info)  Gather together all the parts of the jack: Usually a lifting device, the “jack” portion; the “tire iron”, a tool for removing the lug nuts (those things that hold the tire to the vehicle) and an extension, maybe two.  The tire iron generally does double duty.  It will be used to remove lugs AND lift the vehicle.  In our case a Suburban.  Also, grab a bandana, or newspaper or something to hold the lugs.  If you have an extra something to kneel on, even better; this operation can be tough on the knees.

Find the tire iron – that thing that you use to loosen the lugs.  You’ll use it first.  But, first, here’s some info on the newer model vehicles.  Many trucks – and Suburbans, Tahoes, trucks, etc… save space by hanging the spare under the vehicle.  And car manufacturers make removal of the spare tricky.  By design, but we won’t go into those details now.  Just know if you walk to the back of your vehicle and see what looks like a place to put the key and turn the truck on, you have located the magic kingdom for tire removal.  If you see a hole that looks out of place and you have zero idea why it is there, you have probably found the right spot on either an import vehicle or an older model domestic vehicle.

For those of you who have a newer model truck, SUV, whatever – insert the ignition key into the slot and turn to the right (clockwise).  When the plug is released, you can remove it from the truck.  This is important and will be explained in a footnote.

Assemble the poles that are in the tire removal kit – trust me, you will know what I mean when you look at all the parts.  Insert said pole into the void in the back of your vehicle created when you removed the plug.  This gets a bit tricky, but you will be able to “feel” when the tool engages with the mechanism that is devilishly hiding your spare under your truck, SUV, whatever (from this point forward, it’s a truck).  You will feel the rod engage, rotate the mechanism counterclockwise (if you have never assembled IKEA furniture just remember “righty tighty, lefty loosey).  You want to go “lefty”.  The spare tire will descend from hidden depths under your vehicle.  Once the spare hits the ground, slide it out from under said truck.

Now, do NOT do anything with the spare other than roll it over to the dreaded flat.  Well, that isn’t entirely true – check to make sure you have air in the spare tire.  If not, you’re screwed, call AAA. Let’s go with the best case scenario and your spare is okay.

Use the Tire Iron – that funny “L” shaped tool to loosen the lug nuts on holding the flat tire to the vehicle.  Again, use the “lefty loosey” rule.  Give yourself credit, you CAN figure this out.  Note: Loosen the lugs, do NOT remove them.  And do NOT raise the vehicle off the ground first.  You need the friction of the tire to the ground to allow you to break the lugs loose.   If you give them about one free turn to the left, that is sufficient.  Really, let’s be serious.  If you are driving a land yacht you will probably need a “4-way lug”.  Look it up, get to know what it is and how it is used.

Now, read the directions and assemble the jack and put it under the vehicle in the appropriate location.  Read the directions!!  Read the directions!! Read the directions!!  Did I mention you need to read the directions that are with your tire tools?  You should find a diagram of proper jack placement – regard this as sacred.

Raise the vehicle until the flat is off the ground enough you can put the spare ON the vehicle and make it work.  Once the lifting is accomplished, go ahead and remove the flat tire. To do this you will completely remove the lug nuts.  Use the aforementioned bandana as a place to set all the lugs.  Keep them all together – you don’t want to lose one.   Put the flat tire to the side – but keep it, no matter how pissed you are at the tire right now.  It will be helpful later.  Stand the spare up on its tread, roll it to the empty space and put it on the lugs.  This step requires some muscle.  IF you absolutely cannot get the tire high enough off the ground to line up the lugs, lower the vehicle slightly.  Roll the tire into place, the raise the vehicle again.  You gotta have clearance to get the tire into the proper place.  Once you have the spare lined up on at least one lug, put a lug-nut onto the stud and secure the tire.  If you raise the vehicle without securing the tire, you risk having it fall off – and on to you.  Not good.  Once you have gotten the spare on to the vehicle put all the lug nuts on and finger tighten them.  Don’t worry that your version of ‘finger tight’ is not that strong, you are only trying to keep the tire in place.  Now, lower the vehicle to the ground.  Put the weight of the truck onto the tire.

Use the tire iron to tighten the lugs.  Don’t go around the clock, use a criss-cross pattern.  If you have 5 lugs, make a star pattern when tightening the lugs.  If you have 4 lug nuts, make an X pattern when tightening the lug nuts.  Use the tire iron to snug up the lug nuts, run them tight to the tire.  Then hit it for about another ¼ turn.  This is what holds your tires to your vehicle.

Get that broken, flat, worn-out, damaged, destroyed piece of tire back into the vehicle.  Just hang on to it.  You certainly don’t want to buy a new rim if you don’t have to.  Make sure you have gathered up all the parts, pieces and pertinent bits of tool and put those back into the vehicle.  Congratulate yourself on being an Amazon Woman from Mars, get back into the vehicle and drive away.

Now, you are no longer emboldened to AAA.  You CAN drive to those remote locations.  You CAN get yourself out of trouble.  And if you never plan to drive through a barren desert, cell phone dead zone or be without the aid of someone else to change your flat tire at least you will know if they are doing it right!!

Footnote:  spare tires are expensive.  Most cars have temporary spare tires, aka “doughnut” wheels, while trucks have “real” spares.  The reason for the puzzle trick is to keep your spare YOURS.  (Extra tires and tailgates are among the most commonly stolen items from a truck.)

Stephanie Hall

Stephanie Hall

Stepanie Hall is a mom and member of Toastmasters International based in Bryan-College Station.

Paul Revere had personality.

What Paul Revere Can Teach Us about Personality

On the morning of April 18, 1775, a young stable boy in Boston overheard two British officers discussing something about “hell to pay tomorrow.”  The stable boy scurried off to the shop of Paul Revere, a silversmith by trade, and repeated his tale.  Further information was quietly gathered throughout the day corroborating the stable boys story.

The British regulars were after a cache of hidden weapons in Concord, Massachusetts.   To sweeten the deal, they also planned to arrest John Hancock and Samuel Adams.

Long before John Hancock became synonymous with life insurance and interchangeable with the word signature…  And long before Samuel Adams became a brand name for, well, beer, the two men were Revolutionary leaders.  They, along with Paul Revere and others organized the Boston tea party.  Arresting these two hooligans would put a huge bee in the bonnet of the British commander.

By 9 pm that night it was decided.  Revere and Williams Dawes would head in different directions to raise the militia.  They planned to meet in Lexington to warn Adams and Hancock, who were spending the night with Hancock’s relatives.

Contrary to popular belief, Paul Revere did NOT ride through the country side shouting the British are coming, the British are coming.

First off, Revere considered himself to be British.  Secondly, there were British soldiers everywhere.  The last thing he wanted was to get CAUGHT before he could complete his mission!

What Paul Revere did do was quietly knock on doors, give his warning and ride on.  Revere also succeeded in rousing at least 40 other riders to assist his efforts and by the time he reached Lexington at midnight, militia as far as 40 miles away were making their way to Concord.

William Dawes arrived shortly after midnight having only roused a few dozen militias.

Why did Paul Revere succeed when William Dawes did not?

Revere had charisma.  He was a merchant.  He knew people.  People trusted him.

Paul Revere was the type of man who knew how to get the job done.  During the revolutionary war, when the colonists were low on gun powder, Revere and Samuel Adams built a powder factory.  In 1800, Revere became the first American to figure out how to turn copper into sheets to reinforce ship hulls.

Have you seen the movie Pulp Fiction?  There is scene where the Samuel L. Jackson character is explaining to the John Travolta character that even though they are both dirty animals, it is okay to eat pigs but not okay to eat dogs.  He says, “Dogs have personality, personality goes a long way.”

Paul Revere had personality.   The night of April 18, 1775, he quietly began alerting folks that the British regulars were planning to march on Concord and folks listened.

After discussion with Hancock and Adams, it was decided that Revere and Dawes would press on to Concord accompanied by Dr. Samuel Prescott.  Prescott just happened to be in Lexington as he was “returning from a lady friend’s house at the awkward hour of 1 am.”

The three were detained along the way by a British Army patrol.  Prescott and Dawes escaped.  Dawes fell from his horse during the escape but Prescott was able to make it to Concord with his warning.

Revere was held, at gunpoint, for questioning by the British.

He confidently warned the British soldiers that if they approached Lexington, they would be met by a large force of hostile militia.  When gunfire was heard in the distance, the British officer demanded to know the reason.  Revere helpfully explained it was a signal to “alarm the countryside.”  When bells were heard ringing in Lexington, the British soldiers were told: “The bell’s aringing!  The town’s alarmed, and you’re all dead men.”

The British soldier’s holding Revere decided to call off their march on Lexington, free their prisoner and head back to warn their commanders.

Lexington escaped conflict that morning, but Concord did not.  Thus was the beginning of the American Revolution.

We owe a great debt to the charismatic, well-connected, industrious man that was Paul Revere.  He had personality.

Please use the comments below to answer the following questions:

  1. What if Paul Revere had not been chosen to make his ride the night of April 18th?
  2. What if William Dawes had been the only rider warning the countryside?

Interview: Susy Christiansen of Busy Bee Studio

Susy Christiansen of Busy Bee Studios

Susy Christiansen of Busy Bee Studios

Southern California based Susy Christiansen successfully transitioned from the corporate world and created a technology company with kids in mind.   She is the mother of 4-year old twins.

“I knew that the work-life balance I wanted as a mom would be tough there, so I decided to make a big change and venture out on my own.  And I’ve never looked back!”

MG: Sum up your business in three sentences or less.

SC: Busy Bee Studios is a digital production company that specializes in kids. We do mobile games and apps under our own company name, and create websites, web-based games, advertising and other digital content for our clients.

MG: Where do you sell your products?

SC: We are business to business, and get most of our work through word of mouth and referrals.

MG: Why did you choose to start your business?

SC: When I decided to have kids, I was a managing producer at a company (hint: it has a mouse as its mascot) in a role that required a lot of long hours. It was also advertising/revunue related, so there was quite a bit of pressure. I knew that the work-life balance I wanted as a mom would be tough there, so I decided to make a big change and venture out on my own. And I’ve never looked back!

MG: Where do you find inspiration for your products?

SC: Definitely my kids. This is the easy answer, since I create kids’ content – but before I was a mom, I had to sort of tap into my inner child for inspiration… I still do that, but now I can also pull from my experiences with my own kids and apply what I’ve learned about what they like, how they learn, how parents react to products and content – it’s all a big “a-ha!” moment compared to how I approached things before I was a mom.

MG: Define your style?

SC: Business style? I guess I’m lucky in that my personality is naturally a mix of laid-back and anal-retentive, if that’s possible. 😉 I am very organized, structured, and always plan for the worst, but expect the best and if something does go off-track, my planning ahead lets me relax and take it all in stride. I also remind myself every day that I’m doing this because I love it. It’s a nice balance.

MG: Tell me about your typical day.

SC: Drop the kids off at preschool, then sit down to 4 hours of straight silence, where I first catch up on emails, then look over my handwritten list of to-dos for the day (that I created the day before). I’m most creative during the morning, so if I need to develop any top-level ideas, wireframe out a game, or write any music, I do it during this time. Kids are picked up at noon, and my afternoon sitter (grandma) comes at 1pm. My work day usually ends about 4 or 5.

Busy Bee Studios creates mobile games and apps for kids.


MG: How do you juggle work and family?

SC: The flexibility of my work-at-home situation makes that possible, along with the fact that my retired mom makes childcare a pretty easy situation.

MG: Three tips you would like to give to moms who are thinking about starting their own business?

SC: Be aware that it’s a long process – plan for at least 6 months of nothing happening, up to a year until you start seeing things going. During the harder times, remind yourself what you are gaining by starting your own business, and why you decided to do it in the first place. And make sure you plan for the ebb and flow of business – save during the flows so you don’t worry during the ebbs. ?

MG: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

SC: Hopefully I’ll be able to swap my current split of income from mostly coming from on client work, to mostly coming from our own products and IP.

MG: You worked for a very large corporation before creating your company. What was difficult about the transition? What was easy?

SC: Truth be told, it was very difficult at first – I went from a fast-paced, high volume and pretty stressful environment from one where it was suddenly very quiet for a while, and that did feel really weird. I considered returning to it in the month or two after I left, but once I went through ‘detox’ (as I like to call it!) I realized my life/work balance was infinitely better and I was much happier as my own boss. And now I’m back to being really busy, but it’s a much more satisfying and less manic busy.

Connect with Susy Christiansen





Send Personalized Custom Greeting Cards for $1.47 or less

Just this past week I received several Facebook messages from my SendOutCards clients that have really touched me.  I’d like to share just one, because it brought tears to my eyes:

“I almost didn’t recognize my mom when she called yesterday…she couldn’t stop crying – tears of joy and wonderful memories. Sent her a card courtesy of Kandas and SendOutCards – of a picture of she and my father on their 50th wedding anniversary. Dad’s been gone 3 years now…seems like just yesterday.”

A personalized custom greeting card is such a simple thing.   It’s just a piece of paper that has been folded into a 7×5 card.   The words, photos and love you put into the cards you send can have a profound and powerful effect.

SendOutCards Executive Beth Caldwell was recently featured on the channel 3 news in Conneticut!  Watch this fabulous 5 minute interview that gives an excellent overview of our card and gift sending system. Be patient, the interview starts about 15-20 seconds into the clip.

If this video piques your curiosity and you’d like a free trial of SendOutCards, contact me!

WFSB Channel 3

Live on Purpose!


Grow Your Photography Business with Greeting Cards

As a photographer, you might be missing out on repeat sales and referrals.  I can help!

As an independent distributor for SendOutCards, I help professional photographers, like you, implement appreciation marketing strategies to grow your business.   The following are real-world examples of ways you can use SendOutCards in your photography business.

The Perfect System for Photographers

“A photographer that does weddings also can recommend the system to all his clients for thank you cards, wedding invitations, and announcements.  To me, this is the perfect system for a photographer.   Take some photos from the photo session, and show the client how easy it is to make and send their own photo cards.  Then set the client up with an account, then they get paid over and over on the same photos.  I like to use photos from my photographer (who sells them on disk ) to create fun things. I span the photos inside the cards, and they come out great, but also use them for metal prints and things like that.”

– Diane Walker, SendOutCards Distributor

Ensure Future Wedding Bookings

“Take pics of the bridesmaids and then send them a card with their amazing portrait on the front and tell them on the inside how nice it was to meet them and that they made the day so special and how lucky the bride was to have her by their side.  One photographer in my downline does this and he gets more booking from bridesmaids for their own weddings.  SendOutCards is also GREAT for makeup artists! ”

Sandy Gerstein, SendOutCards Distributor 

Add-on Sales

“In my other life I am a Certified Profession Photographer and we are all picky about our color and digital files. Some more than less, and some have a better vision about it than others. You’ll have to stress to them that although they may see a print as a bit to cyan or whatnot, the client does not have that refined of an eye to notice.  It could make some really nice add-on sales though, and I love using it for that too.

“I got involved in SendOutCards at first to support my photo business, and I received great feedback and referrals from using SendOutCards to spoil my clients.  It’s about being creative with what we offer and wrapping it up into their current business.   Since photographers are generally creative people, the possibilities should be vast.”

 – Richard Chapman, II, Certified Professional Photographer and SendOutCards Distributor

So Much More

Tom Schmidt, Redding, California based photographer offers these SendOutCards solutions for photographers:

  • Start a Kids Club – automatically send a birthday card a couple weeks before the birthday with a special offer for annual pictures.
  • Create Senior Graduation Cards and thank you notes.
  • Holiday Photo Cards
  • Studio session thank you notes
  • Studio bids and follow up
  • Welcome new neighbors
  • Newborn Announcement Cards
  • Niche offers like glamour sessions

“If I had only one tool to grow my photography business it would be SendOutCards.”

– Tom Schmidt, Fine Photos

Photographers visit my SendOutCards website today, watch the video and then click the “Send a FREE Card” button to test drive the system and unleash the possibilities.

Kandas Rodarte is an Independent Senior Marketing Distributor with SendOutCards.