Sunday, December 27, 2009

Book Review: The Day I Met THE NUTS


"The Day I Met THE NUTS," is a story is about a young boy who discovers he is allergic to nuts while at a friend's birthday party. Being that birthday parties are top-notch events in a child's life, author Mary Rand Hess grabs her audience from page one. As an added treat, the illustrations in the book blend perfectly with the text, providing even more entertainment to the reader's delight.

I read the story to my son and daughters ages 3, 4 and 6. They enjoyed it so much that they asked me to read it twice! My little ones couldn't wait to find out how the boy would survive such a huge change in his life and still be all right. Of course they knew he would be all right because Mary, a mother of two young boys herself, expertly places just the right amount of love and support in the the mother's character in the story. You hear the mom urging her son along, as he gradually takes his life back from the nuts.

There is a comical tone in much of the book and my 6 year old didn't hesitate to chuckle throughout. My 4 year old loved the animal pictures and my 3 year old was totally in tune with the boy's feelings, as he had recently had an allergic reaction to skin cream. "The Day I Met THE NUTS" is a fun read and an inspiring tale. It captures the true essence of childhood emotion. To find out more about the book or order copies, visit http://www.earthdaypublishing.com/.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Thank You

Thanks for your support! This December was a whirlwind of activity as Polly & Meek fit in two retail events before the holiday week (and the big snow) overtook us. Many of you bought books, calendars and dry-erase boards as gifts to special children and even some adults in your lives. We pray that they are blessed by our story and inspired by our products.

It was a pleasure talking to all of you. Whether you needed a little encouragement or just stopped by to encourage us; whether you bought a product or simply grabbed some information to pass along to a friend, we appreciate you.

As we continue with our mission of edifying families and promoting early literacy, we are mindful of your comments. In the new year you can count on Polly&Meek for more of the products you love, as well as, new creations based on your feedback. Our work is fun for us, and above all, it's one of the ways we serve God. He richly blesses us everyday. We hope to multiply that blessing by passing it on to you.

Thank you again and Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

December 2009 Newletter

Get Your Holiday Gift Sets Now!

The season for giving is upon us and Polly & Meek is pleased to offer holiday gift sets. Each set includes a copy of our children's picture book, educational flash cards, a dry erase sheet with pen and a special gift. The cost is $15 for sets that include a soft cover book and $20 for sets that include a hard cover book (plus S&H). If you do not have a copy of our book, now is the time to give one as a Christmas gift. Our holiday gift sets are for a limited time only, so contact us via email, phone or blog to place your order.

Upcoming Events

We will be vending at the Read To Lead Book Fair on December 12, 2009 from 12pm - 5pm at St. Mary's Catholic Church, 410 Addison Rd, Seat Pleasant, Maryland 20743. This event is sponsored by the Maryland Umbrella Group.

Come out and support this great organization which sponsors an annual youth summer camp. Authors will be reading their books at the Read to Lead Book Fair so bring the kids. You will not want to miss it!

Books on Consignment

Contact us via email, blog or phone for more details on how to carry our book in your stores at no cost to you while making a profit!

Where To Purchase Our Book

Remember you can purchase our children's book at amazon.com, at our website, blog, via US Mail or email!

Visit Our Blog

Check out weekly updates at our blog to find out more about what is going on with Polly & Meek and catch a sneak peak into our daily lives. This week we are celebrating the holiday season with reasons to give thanks and hopes for a prosperous New Year. Come over and tell us about your holiday traditions. We would love to hear from you!

As always we thank you for your support and encourage you to use your God given talents to pursue your dreams!

Many Blessings,

Onjeinika Brooks and Tamika Jackson

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year


Christmas is my favorite time of year. Sometimes it's nearly impossible for me not to regress into a childlike state--- singing, dancing and making merriment around the Christmas tree. My cup runneth over as I think of how good it is to have salvation because the saviour lives! It is His sweetness that keeps me comfortable, His love that I try to mirror and His promise that he'll never forsake me, which propels me into celebration. To tell the truth, I don't know how anyone can resist opening their heart this time of year if at none other.

We grew up under the facade of Santa Claus so even though I knew God and Jesus, Christmas was more about what surprises Santa had in store. And while our grandmother went out of her way creating the most memorible, and magical Christmas scenes ever; nothing can compare to the ultimate gift ---Christ Jesus! He makes me want to do better, love harder and forgive my enemies all in one breath; whilst striving to experience that unspeakable joy the old folks spoke about.

So when the question comes up, like it did today --- Lainey wanted to know if I thought Jesus' birthday was really December 25th. When asked I said this: "Honestly, I don't know and actually I don't really care." Her eyes stretched in disbelief as I continued. "It could be any day of the year, but Christmas gives us a reason to be thankful for God through his son Jesus. What could be wrong with that! So were are going to give gifts like those that were brought when Jesus was born and we will say thank you for His many blessings. All in the spirit Christmas." Immediately she leapt from her perch near the window and into my arms. We skipped, twirled and danced, throughout the living room, her face emanating happiness!


(singing) It's the most wonderful time of the year.....

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Reason to Give Thanks


Are you all packed up and ready to get on the road? If you're one of the few staying put and possibly receiving family and friends then, did you get the turkey yet? Me either. But I'll be out shopping for the whole meal once my kindergartener gets off the bus this morning.

And speaking of kids, it's been difficult to keep them from going head over heels for Christmas. So I've spent tons of time stressing to mine that Thanksgiving comes first. We cannnot prepare for a season of giving without first giving thanks. Finally, after all the festivities at school last week it seems that the idea is starting to stick. I was indeed thankful for all the help with reiterating what the holiday entails.

The whole concept of loving, sharing and acknowledging how much we have to be thankful for can be easily missed. Just look around! Black Friday ads and shopping promotions are everywhere. It's not that I don't love a good deal, it's just that there's more to Thanksgiving than the day after. To combate all the focus on spending the kids and I will be crafting cornucopias and learning about Native Americans. I've planned some fun games for counting our blessings and of course we'll be spending the day together cooking and having fun. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I can't think of anything better than being able to celebrate God's grace and mercy.

So this Thursday, once you've finished cooking and seated your guests or arrived at your destination with appetite in tow...proudly give thanks. From the big to the small. God richly blessed you with everything. Take a little time to reflect on his goodness!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

New Product - Dry Erase Boards

Polly & Meek is dedicated to promoting early literacy. While vending at the PG County Mocha Moms Business Expo on November 14th in Largo Maryland, we found out just how smart and up to the challenge young children are when it comes to excelling in school.

Our children's picture book was our top seller, but our dry erase boards were not far behind. We debuted the boards at the Sterling Fest in October. The boards were on our table and began to attract children one after the other, who knew exactly what it was for and begin to write their names and other words on the board and then erase and start again. One six year old was able to even write in cursive and not only wrote her name, but other words like soap, pen etc. Onjeinika and I were both in awe that this little angel was able to write in cursive so well. When we asked her who taught her to do it she responded that she has an easel at home and practices on that. A short conversation with her mother and we soon knew that she had equipped her child with the tools she needed to be a leader in school, to excel above the rest and set the standard in her class. It was clear to me that this kindergartner was ahead of the game. Her mother immediately purchased our dry erase board and stated that although they had one at home, the one we designed was portable and could be carried around in the car or used in various places when her daughter would need some quiet time. Nothing greater than being able to learn on the go! Confirmation for us that what we are doing, providing tools to promote early literacy, is definitely welcomed amongst families.

So what are you doing to ensure that your preschooler is successful? Are you tapping into their creativity and providing them with the tools they need to excel? Let us help you. Feel free to contact Polly & Meek for any questions that you may have and let us know what type of products you are seeking to ensure your child is a leader!

Continued Blessings,

Meek

Friday, November 6, 2009

November 2009 Newsletter

Gift Card Giveaway

Our $25 gift card giveaway is in full swing! Enter to win when you purchase our children's picture book. The drawing will be held November 15, 2009 (just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday). This is your last chance to take advantage of this great reward, so order your copy of our book today!!!

Holiday Gift Sets

Polly & Meek is pleased to offer holiday gift sets. Each set includes a copy of our children's picture book, educational flash cards, a dry erase sheet with pen and a special gift. The cost is $15 for sets that include a soft cover book and $20 for sets that include a hard cover book (plus S&H). If you do not have a copy of our book, now is the time to give one as a Christmas gift. Our holiday gift sets are for a limited time only, so contact us via email, phone or blog to place your order.

New Products

Polly & Meek is devoted to promoting early literacy. We are now offering flash cards that include numbers, shapes and colors and dry erase sheets so that children can practice writing letters, words or their name. Our new products are designed to help pre-schoolers learn and excel academically! We are accepting pre-orders for these products, so please contact us via email, phone or blog to place your order.

Upcoming Events

Polly & Meek will be attending Northern Prince George's County Mocha Moms Home Business Extravaganza on Saturday, November 14, 2009 from 10am - 2pm. Come out and support local stay at home moms and enjoy some holiday shopping at Perrywood Elementary School, 501 Watkins Park Drive, Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20774.

Books on Consignment

Contact us via email, blog or phone for more details on how to carry our book in your stores at no cost to you while making a profit!

Visit Our Blog

Check out weekly updates at our blog to find out more about what is going on with Polly & Meek and catch a sneak peak into our daily lives. This week we would like to hear from you on ideas for new products that you would like to see from us.

As always we thank you for your support and encourage you to use your God given talents to pursue your dreams!

Many Blessings,

Onjeinika Brooks and Tamika Jackson

Monday, October 26, 2009

We Want To Hear From You!

Sometimes while we're going about our day to day routine, ideas for new products pop up. Certainly, raising small children can payoff when your business is spurred from the very task. But better than that is hearing directly from our customers and we want to talk to you!

As we zero in on early literacy, we've already identified two new products to offer you. Now, so that our efforts aren't wasted, we'd like to know what products you specifically need. Please leave a comment here on our blog or send us an email at info@pollyandmeek.com. We'll use the data to create more ways to make early learning easier for you and your child. Of course books will always play a huge role in the learning process. We're simply widening the scope to identify addition tools that children will love. With your input Polly&Meek can develop some exciting and engaging, new products.

We'll showcase two of our latest prototypes next month at the Northern PG County Mocha Moms Home Business Expo. Stop by our booth to see what's new, pick up a copy of Sisters Are From Heaven and give us feedback on what tools you need most for your family. We look forward to seeing you and hearing your comments.

Many blessings,
Polly

Monday, October 19, 2009

Where Do You See Yourself Five Years From Now?

Where do you see yourself five years from now used to be a question guaranteed to come up during an interview or any other scenario where a young person may need to be tricked into thinking ahead. Nowadays, why not go one step further and apply it to your own business?

We already know that looking a little further down the road can cause some good life planning to take place. But this time instead of thinking about finally paying down that debt, or how you'd like to pad the savings account a little more, how many activities the kids will be involved in at one time, or if their first year of college will be paid for---just stop. Give some serious thought to where you want your business to go and set goals. If setting goals sounds too concrete and you think you might be misleading yourself, then let's call it "dreaming with purpose." Either way, put pen to paper and get to work. The words you write down can lay a powerful foundation for your business plan while simultaneously opening doors to new ideas in your niche.

To get started, think about how you'd like to affect your customer base five years from now. In terms of your brand, would you like to be a household name or are you satistied when people can search for a product and your website appears first on the list? How important is income to you? Would you like to be earning millions in sales per year, or are you not for profit? You're thinking several years from now so if business is booming, who's doing the work? Will you do it all yourself or could you manage a small staff? A large staff?

Answer these questions and more. If you elaborate well enough you should end up with some long term and short terms goals for your company. Always check in to make sure you're reaching milestones and are on track for the future. It is whatever you make it, so dream BIG.

Many Blessings,
Polly

Monday, October 12, 2009

Back In The Day!

About two years ago, I stopped buying regular meats, eggs and dairy at the grocers and switched to organic goods. It was a bit more expensive but very much worth it to me. My husband planted a small garden in our backyard when we first purchased our home, but it did not thrive in the nutrient deficient clay. Nonetheless, I opted for frozen veggies instead of those in the can (gotta avoid that BPA) and scoped out farmer's markets in the area for fresh produce. There is nothing like fresh fruits and veggies organically grown without any artificial enhancements. Even my nieces and nephew are on the bandwagon, picking 15lbs of fresh, organic apples from a nearby farm in their area.

I am once again finding myself shifting gears. While I was pregnant, I asked God to show me how to actually lose weight after I delivered. I am down from my pre-pregnancy weight and it is all due to the additional challenge of cutting dairy from my diet (my angel is allergic to milk protein). All of these adjustments made me start to think about all the organic goods we used to get from our local 'Fruit Man' when I was growing up. The 'Fruit Man' used to come by every Saturday to sell his fruits, veggies and sometimes meats to the families in our neighborhood. He would come with beans and collards, eggs and potatoes and all the wonderfully, delicious and unadulterated goods from his garden. He was a small business owner and he made a healthy bounty from all the families who would wait for his arrival each Saturday to glean foods from the back of his truck for their Sunday dinners. He knew his target audience, minority families, especially older women who needed a good deal on some good eats! I can see my grandmother now pulling a bushel of garden peas off of his truck and hauling them into the house. We all knew this meant the end of our outside play time and the beginning of a long evening shelling peas with Momma!

Other small, home based business owners included my Great Aunt Tunny who supplemented her income by making the best brown dogs in the land! Brown dogs are delicious sugar and peanut or caramelized syrup and peanut candies. Just thinking of them makes my mouth water. Everybody came to Aunt Tunny's to buy her famous brown dogs at $.50 each. When she made a batch they sold out in no time flat just from word of mouth sales.

And who can forget the 'Freeze Lady', Mrs. Maggie. Mrs. Maggie sold freezes and candy out of her house to supplement her income. She made the very best kool-aid freezes with just enough sugar in them to keep us running back to her house with our $.25 every day and sometimes twice a day. LOL!

Happy memories from my childhood. Very easy and simple small businesses, but small businesses nonetheless!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Capital Bookfest 2009

Saturday's weather was just goregous, perfect for enjoying a local book festival held outside. This is the second year in a row that Polly&Meek has participated in Capital Bookfest. The event takes place in Largo, MD every first Saturday in October.

It is an amazing feat in terms of its message to families, as well as support from the community. I can't leave out the opportunity it provides to local authors, some of which are new to the literary world. The staff and volunteers who produce this book festival do an awesome job. They may be looking to do similar festivals in other cities or expand the bookfest over a few days. I say, bring it on.

As normal, there was plenty of foot traffic past our table on Saturday. The constant flow of potential patrons made sure there was never a dull moment. Selling books is always exciting, but making contact with customers to listen or encourage them, fulfills the soul. They don't hold back and neither do we. Everyone can be blessed. It's this exchange that the community has come to expect and I witnessed other vendors doing the same at their tables. That is what I like most about these types of events. There's a sense of happiness and positivity that you don't see on a daily basis. No drama or negativity at all. That alone alone deserves a thumbs up.

We sold a few books and made great contacts. If you were one of the many who stopped by our table then we thank you. If you didn't make it out this time then try for next year. You will be inspired.

Many blessings,

Polly

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Polly & Meek October 2009 Newsletter

Gift Card Giveaway

Enter to win a $25 gift card when you purchase our children's picture book. Promotion begins October 1, 2009. Drawing will be held November 15, 2009 (just in time for the holidays) so order you copy today!!!

Softcover Promotion

Our softcover copies of Sisters Are From Heaven are available at the low cost of $5 per copy (plus S&H) when you order online or via email. If you do not have a copy of our book, now is the time to get one for that upcoming birthday, baby shower or as a Christmas gift!

Our Commitment to Promote Early Literacy

Polly & Meek is devoted to promoting early literacy. Our children's picture book was created for pre-school aged children and we are committed to providing more educational materials at affordable prices to help your child succeed!

Upcoming Events

Polly & Meek will be attending Capital Bookfest 2009 on October 3rd from 10am - 7pm in Largo, Maryland at the Blvd @ Cap Centre (behind the Borders book store). If you are in the area please come out and support local authors in the DC Metro area. In addition, we will be vending at the SterlingFest 2009 on October 10th from 11-4pm on Commerce and Enterprise Street in Sterling Park, Virginia.

Books on Consignment

Polly & Meek is offering books on consignment. Please contact us via email, blog or phone for more details on how to carry our book in your stores at no cost to you while making a profit!

Visit Our Blog

Check out weekly updates at our blog to find out more about what is going on with Polly & Meek and catch a sneak peak into our daily lives. This week we are sharing ideas on how to make your home based business more visible on the Internet and in your community.

As always we thank you for your support and encourage you to use your God given talents to pursue your dreams!

Many Blessings,

Onjeinika Brooks and Tamika Jackson

Polly & Meek
www.pollyandmeek.com
http://www.pollyandmeek.blogspot.com
703-732-7500/301-335-8414

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Plug Your Business!

I love tennis! Growing up it was one of the few sports my mother enjoyed watching on television. Of course, like most things she enjoyed, I love them too as an adult.

Venus and Serena Williams are my all time favorite players and I rarely miss an opportunity to watch them play. I was pleasantly, surprised to catch Serena on Good Morning America doing a short interview. During her interview I noticed she plugged her book repeatedly. Not only did she keep referring to her book, but she also mentioned it by name. The title of the book is On The Line. I will not forget the title and it sticks in my mind because she plugged it so much during her brief interview.

My question is, do you plug your business? I mean, when you meet new people or are in a situation that you can possibly network, do you seize the opportunity?

At one point during Serena's interview I thought 'well this is beginning to get ridiculous', but as of today I remember the title of her book (which is a miracle since I cannot seem to remember much with my post-pregnancy brain).

So next time you are out with a crowd or meet a new person or find yourself in a position to network and plug your business, do not hesitate to do so. Its another cost effective way to make your business more visible!

Many Blessings,

Meek

Monday, September 21, 2009

Is Your Home Based Business Visible?

So many of us are just starting out with our small, home based businesses and have limited finances. There are a few important things I think one should have for their business and most can be obtained with little to no revenue.


1 - Business Cards - They are a quick way to put your business out there to the masses. So often when I met people and we decide to exchange contact information, I simply hand them a business card. I have one for my photography business and one for Polly & Meek. Everything is right there...email, phone number and most of all your company name. People remember that and will turn to you when they need a service that you provide. I like this site for purchasing reasonably price business cards or you can use Avery templates to make your own!


2 - A Company Website- I know what you are thinking...I am on a shoe string budget right now and cannot afford a company website. Ever thought of using the free blogs as your website until you can get one up and going? When I first launched my photography business, I used blogspot to advertise. When I saved enough funds, I found a reasonable priced website and went with them. There are sites such as Yahoo Small Business that offer very affordable website hosting and domain names that can fit into your company's budget. Heck, even Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are excellent free sources for networking!


3 - Payment Options - Once you get your website up and running, it is imperative that you have a few payment options. I started out with the cash only option, and that worked fine for a while as most of my work was face to face anyway. But once I decided to do weddings, it became important for me to be able to accept down payments over the internet if a customer opted to do so. I did this through Paypal by opening a personal paypal account. That way I could accept credit card payments. Polly & I use Business Paypal to accept credit card payments online and it has worked wonderfully without a hitch. It did not cost us a dime and we have gained a whole new customer base by using it.


These are just a few things to get your started and provide you with a professional start to your small business. It costs little but pays off alot! I hope you feel encouraged to go forth and use your gift.


"The blessings of the Lord maketh it rich and addeth no sorrow to it" ~ Proverbs 10:22


Many Blessings,

Meek

Monday, September 14, 2009

Cutting Costs While Running a Home-Based Business

Running a business from home can be a great solution to the time and money issues that families with preschool or school-aged children face. Being available to your children provides comfort and well-being for them along with a strong bond between the parent and child. During time at home children can be taught educational concepts that will prepare them for life long learning and give them a head start. Another major bonus is that daycare costs are eliminated, as are commuting costs and expenses associated with going to work.

The savings and benefits don't have to end there. Finding more ways to cut costs can help boost your business and keep you working for yourself, even when the economy looks grim.

Follow these tips to save even more money while managing a successful home-based business:

1.Conserve energy- unplug appliances while not in use or use a power strip with a reset button. Keep the power strip turned off until needed. Switch to energy saving bulbs and turn off lights in unoccupied spaces if you'll be gone for longer than 1 minute.

2.Buy in bulk - if you have the storage for extra food or office supplies, then great! The unit cost of the bulk products will be much lower. So take advantage of warehouses and superstores. Just be sure you'll actually use whatever you buy.

3.Plan meals- use the circulars that stores send out to comparison shop and remember to clip coupons. Meals that can be prepared in your kitchen are normally a fraction of the cost of eating out.

4. Borrow - when your business requires research or self help books turn to the public library for resources that can be checked out for free. If you must buy, then remember Amazon, and other online bookstores offer used products at discounted prices.

5. Get a Membership -join a club for the things you purchase frequently and watch the rewards add up. Office Depot has one such program called WorkLife. Who doesn't need office supplies from time to time?

6. Just say no - delay any large purchases that aren't completely necessary and try to stretch the time before giving in to spend huge sums of money. When you are finally ready to buy, always ask yourself if it's a need or a want. Let the needs prevail.

May your home and family prosper and your business expand!

Polly

Monday, September 7, 2009

Preparation: Important at Every Age

My oldest child starts Kindergarten tomorrow and I'm so excited for her that I can barely contain myself. She's academically ready, but understandably, says she's a little nervous. We talked about her anxiety again this morning and I told her not to worry because she's going to have fun. She looked at me perplexed, as to say, "Well it's not the fun part that's causing the problem." She isn't concerned about that, she's unsure just what tasks she'll be given and whether she can handle them or not.

Then, the light bulb turned on for me. A child is just like anyone else and preparation for the road ahead is extremely important. As adults, we like to know what we're going to do and have a plan to accomplish those things so that we feel confident that we're ready. This is certainly true for some more than others, but for me it's paramount. Whether I'm going to the grocery store or reading books to children at a book festival, life has taught me not to underestimate the power of thinking ahead. In fact, Meek and I practice this religiously by setting up frequent face-to-face business meetings with each other, and keeping constant communication so that we have lists and steps for all our retail events. Our pregame warm-up is serious and we don't take it for granted.

Years from now my daughter will know that she was fully prepared for school and worrying wasn't necessary at all, at least not with an education obsessed mother like hers! But for now, her early learning of these intergral life lessons let's me know I'm doing something right.

Blessings,
Polly

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Brothers Are From Heaven, Too!


Brothers Are From Heaven, Too!

Not only is this the title for our third book, but I saw it in action the other day.

I was sitting in my kitchen looking out the front window, holding my bundle of joy. My two little neighbors, Lucas and Mathias were outside like normal playing. Mind you, Lucas is 4 and Mathias is 2 but they come out quite often to 'hang' with the adults outside. There is no stopping them. If they see you outside, they are coming over. Period.

Today, Lucas was on his scooter and Mathias on his bike with training wheels. My husband and a couple of his friends were on the stoop out front winding down from a hard days work. The boys ventured over. Little Mathias was having problems with his bike, so one of my husband's friends, and also our neighbor, called him over and then began to doctor on his bike. He worked on it while Mathias came up and sat down on the stoop beside my husband. Lucas stayed close by watching. Once the bike was fixed, Mathias was called from the stoop to retrieve it. He hopped on and sure enough he was back in stride. The boys began to ride the bikes toward the curb. Lucas, the older boy, knew how to bounce up so his scooter cleared the curb and he was on the sidewalk, but Mathias had not mastered the skill. I watched attentively. Lucas looked back to see that his brother was having trouble, jumped off his scooter without hesitation and ran back toward him. He grabbed the front of the bike and hoisted it up with all of his strength, pulling little Mathias up and onto the sidewalk. My heart was in my throat watching the brothers work together and seeing Lucas help his brother before he ever asked.

Yes, Brothers Are From Heaven, Too...yes indeed.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What is Vacation?



Last week my family in I took our first vacation together. Doing the math, that means 6 full years since I had been on hiatus from the daily grind of mother, housekeeper, wife, teacher and cook. Well I still had to be two out of five, but my husband got to spend more time being a Dad and husband and less time as an Exec turn weekend handyman. He needed a break too. Our downtime was all right and done right. In other words it was a real vacation.

I admit, before last week's getaway we traveled every year and sometimes twice in a year to visit family in one state or another. But that's just it--- although we left home for extended periods of time, we weren't really on vacation. I didn't even realize this was the case until I complained to one of my friends about how we go visit our loved ones, but somehow I don't come home feeling refreshed. My friend kindly broke it down for me. Turns out, a real vacation is when you go someplace and you don't have to cook, or clean and you can come and go freely.

She was so right! Even though we have loads of fun and enjoy our family visits--- there's no substitute for complete down time. That means seeing the attractions near whatever spot you select and not going out to do anything if you don't want to go. Also included is not driving all over town to see all the relatives you can and apologizing if you want to cut out on family with whom you're currently staying.

As life would have it, even the kids noticed the difference and began using the word "vacation." We had never actually called any of our previous family visits that and somehow they picked up on it. This time none of us were stressed because there was no real schedule or time table to which we had to adhere. It left time for playing until we were just exhausted, lounging because we had to have a break from all the fun at some point, eating whatever yummy dessert we could find and sleeping whenever we felt like taking a nap.

The escape was well worth it. I feel refreshed, replenished and renewed. Those are three R's that should serve me well as September swings into motion. I do believe I am up to the challenge!

Did you take a vacation this summer? Drop a line and let us know what you did.

Love to you and yours,


Polly

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Inspiration

What inspires you?
There are so many things that inspire me to put forth my best efforts. Not just with the business, but in all aspects of my life.
Before the idea of our children's book ever came to be, my sister wanted to be a writer and I a photographer. I was inspired from an early age since my mother loved photography and a camera was never far away. As I got older, my love for photography grew and grew. I wanted to capture all my family on camera so we would have something to show the future generations. I would always be the one at family functions snapping shots of everyone there.
When my first niece was born, I was in the delivery room armed with my camera capturing the beautiful event of her birth. I felt it was duty to make sure my sister and brother in law had this special and never to be repeated event on film so they could look back and reflect on the joyous occasion. All of my sister's children inspired me to embrace children's photography. I would strive to capture every special moment between siblings that I could.
Now, I am propelled forward again with the birth of my little one. She will either completely love the camera or shun it altogether. She is only 13 days old and I assure you I have over 300 pictures of her...at least. I can see my photography skills perfecting with each shot I take of her.
She will inspire me to push beyond what I expected and even surprise myself.
Love for what I do and who I do it for is what inspires me. God inspires me because He is so awesome and I want to give Him the glory through my work. It is a gift He gave to me and I want to do my very best.
We can find inspiration in so many things around us. So if you are feeling a bit bored with your craft, remember why you do it and who gave you the talent to do it. Reflect on past accomplishments and awaken a new commitment to try again. I guarantee that you will not regret it!
Many Blessings,
Meek

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Giving Heart

Sometimes I sit an marvel at how different my life is now, compared to when I was growing up. God blessed me to have a bit more now than what my family had when I was a girl. There are plenty who could probably testify on this same topic, so I know I'm not alone. But as I'm thinking of what I have (and as I tell my children often) there are so many people in the world with much less.

There are several reasons that wealth and even the necessities of life evade the masses, try as they may to change their situation. But instead of looking down my nose and saying why don't they work hard like me, I tell my kids that God wants us to share. He wants us to realize how he's blessed us and made a way for us and then be able to give a blessing to someone else. Someone may be in need of something we already have.

Right about now, folks will start to grumble a little because they tithe on a regular basis. But giving to someone else isn't always monetary. There is so much more that people need than just money. It's been proven, that even when it seems that money is the answer to everything, it hardly scratches the surface of what's really wrong in the world.

So when the next opporunity presents itself, try listening to someone who is depressed, or frustrated and thinks their life is meaningless. I mean seriously, give them the benefit of your ear. Forget about tax dollars and who should pay for what. Donate or give new books or school supplies to students in need. Remember to volunteer your time toward community development. And always, always--- pass on a cheerful word about God. There are still some who don't know him.

A warm and giving heart may not change the whole world, but it could change the world for one person.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Make A Vision Board

This month's issue of Black Enterprise magazine has a inspiring topic on propelling yourself forward if you're in a rut. The suggestion is simple. Create a board where you can post your dreams and goals in a picture or physical format of some type. At first I wasn't sure this could work but as I thought about it more, it seemed like a great concept.

When I need a little push to exercise, for example, visualizing the end result can make all the difference in whether I complete the workout or not. I tend to write out lists all the time and try to keep reminders handy for business endeavors so that I can stay focused. It works.

When creating your vision board use old magazines, pictures and phrases that describe where you want to see yourself as opposed to where you are right now. Be sure to display your board where you'll have daily contact with it. If these thoughts are two private for you to put out in the open, the article suggests a vision journal where you can create simple reminders that are for your eyes only. Either way, I think they're on to something. Give it a try and let us know how yours turns out. I hope your confidence and productivity get a boost!

Blessings,
Polly

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Books On Consignment

Polly & Meek is making yet another exciting business move! We are now offering our books on consignment to book stores and establishments around the country.

God moved and afforded us a fantastic opportunity to be able to proceed with printing our books with our new Polly & Meek logo and becoming independent from our original publishers. We give him all the praise for this. In having this freedom, we are better able to serve our customers and expand in order to reach the masses. This is a wonderful blessing!

If you are wondering what Books on Consignment is then let me take a brief moment to explain. Polly and I will offer our books to book stores and other establishments at no cost to them for a set amount of time (6 -12 months), then the book store/establishment will collect a percentage of the proceeds from any book sales. If they are not able to sale the books we send to them, they can send them back to us at the end of the set time frame and never have to pay us a dime! I personally love this concept, especially from the Consignee's (person who receives the books)side. All of this is done at no cost to the bookstores and gives everyone involved an opportunity to make a profit. Most importantly, it gives Polly & Meek the opportunity to spread our positive message abroad!

Why should you participate with our Books on Consignment?:

* It is completely free and no cost to you.

* You can increase your children’s book selection in your store

* You can help spread a positive message to the world

* You can make a profit from sales

So, that is what is hot on the agenda for Polly & Meek. We have our consignment agreement ready for prospective Consignees. Just contact us and we’ll submit a copy to you and you can fax it right back to us. Before you know it you will have our beautiful books on display in your store and a positive message to share with everyone!

We can’t wait to hear from you!

Monday, July 27, 2009

I Dream of a World

While shuttling my kids to and from camp, I noticed a new hair and beauty supply store open in our area. It took me about a month to stop in, but when I finally did, it was a wonderful surprise. As I was greeted upon entry by the owners (an African-American husband and wife) a broad smile came across my face. They accomplished what seemed impossible in a county boasting one of the largest median household incomes in the U.S. but with an African-American population of just 9% .

What a welcome change. I've been a Sally Beauty supply shopper for 20 years or more. Like many I grew up with local wig stores and ethnic hair goods provided by everyone except the main customer base. So when I stepped into that store I knew I had to patronize, no matter what. I'm well aware of who makes the bulk of the products that most of us buy for our hair and beauty. Still, I dream of a world where more African-American products and businesses are thriving along with the rest of America. I'm ready to shed the image of the shameful, defeated, poor race who "also lives" in this great country.

Polly&Meek products are purchased by people of all cultures. In fact, Meek and I have had the pleasure of watching a group of non-African-American girls grin and giggle over seeing themselves in our book, Sisters Are From Heaven; even though it only contains images of my daughters. But there are more of us out there ---black business owners striving to bring you wonderful products that meet your needs and those of the community. Do us all a favor by patronizing our new and established businesses. Everyone will benefit.

I dream of such a world.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Difference: Money vs. Time

I was listening to the radio the other day when I heard T.D. Jakes make an important announcement. During one of his thoughts for the day he stated that research had revealed the differences between test scores among children of varying economic backgrounds and different races. Most people suspect that money plays a big role in these type of statistics. Our thinking is typically, the more money you have the better off your children are. But while having access to funds can be important, it isn't the main difference in test scores and overall success rates of school-aged children.

The difference is time. The study showed that the amount of time parents invest in their children is directly related to how well their kids do in school and specifically on standardized tests. The study was most amazing because I've never heard it put that plainly. So in other words, as parents, relatives and friends we've got to give the children in our lives a lot more of our time. I've heard this before from older, wiser parents just as a child-rearing tip. But it is my first time hearing it from a study.

Children thrive when they feel loved and secure. When we spend time with them we should emphasize the importance of education by helping them with homework and making sure that they get it done. We can let them know the consequences of not working hard and recognize when they need tutoring or help with a subject. Most schools and churches offer some amount of free assistance for students. We need only ask. Parents with preschoolers can visit the library regularly, quiz the child with flashcards, play age appropriate learning games together and encourage imaginative play time. Turn on the TV as little as possible.

We should also start eating meals together more often, enjoying fun family outings, and just listening to each other. This allows children to get to know and love their family members. Ultimately, the children will learn to trust that we have their best interest at heart. These feelings of well being can lead them to do better in school and possibly other areas of their lives.

This is a positive message for chidren everywhere and it really couldn't hurt to give it a try. The difference in your child 's education is what's at stake.

Many Blessings,
Polly

Thursday, July 16, 2009

July Newsletter

Summer is here and Polly & Meek is offering soft cover copies of our children’s picture book Sisters Are From Heaven at $5 (while current inventory lasts).




Visit our website (http://www.pollyandmeek.com/)


New Product for 2009
Be sure to view our new product for 2009 from our Divine Inspirations line. We are now offering magnetic calendars with photo and inspirational Bible verse. Calendars are laminated and can be displayed on your filing cabinet, refrigerator or locker and at $3 they are a steal! You must have one!


Visit our blog
Catch a sneak peak into the lives of the authors. We update our blog weekly.




Ruritan Flea Market
Please join us from 8am – Noon at the Ruritan indoor flea market. The flea market takes place rain or shine at 183 Ruritan Rd, Sterling Va on the second Saturday of each month now until September 2009. This is a great outing for families and there are opportunities to purchase all types of items at great deals.


As always we thank you all for your love and support and we encourage you to follow your dreams whatever they may be. Please be sure to pass our newsletter along to everyone you know.

Many Blessings,
Polly & Meek

Monday, July 13, 2009

Taking Care of Number One

Today I scheduled a mammogram. This isn't the first one I've had, but it's been quite a few years since the last one. Due to our family history of breast cancer, Meek and I have to stay on top of these types of appointments. But sometimes, as mothers and business women we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, forgetting to take time for ourselves. So today I'm here to remind us all to take a break everyday and be sure to see your physican for check ups and any problems you may be experiencing.

Most of the time our first response is to take care of our family members and others before ourselves. No, the children can't fend for themselves. Yes, our spouse does need support. But when we ignore our own needs we are putting everything in jeopardy. So even if it's just a mental break that's needed, we still have to honor it. As the saying goes, "pay now or pay later." With a little time for ourselves, we can steer clear of this.

I love you and want to see you continue to prosper as beautiful individuals and parents. Take a moment now to do a mental check to see if you've gotten all your parts serviced. Then reflect on the past week. Did you have enough down time? All work and no play isn't going to make you more efficient. Strength and productivity come from a happy, heathly you. Invest in yourself first and the rest will follow --- or if it doesn't you'll at least have enough energy to pull it along!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sharing Love With Everyone!



Did you have a happy 4th of July? We certainly did!

We kicked off on Friday with a cook out at my sister and brother-in-law's home in Northern Va. Our father had come into town and we made it a family event when my husband, step-daughter and I came over to add in to the fun. We enjoyed ourselves with burgers, hotdogs, sausage dogs, chips and strawberry Kool-aid. Of course my brother-in-law made the most delicious peach smoothie concoction (virgin for me of course) and I made some cole slaw to top my hotdog with, yummy! It was all so delish.

The highlight of my day had to be seeing all the kids embrace my step-daughter and play with her as if they have known her for years and years. I am sure they are too young to remember meeting her about 3 years ago. As a matter of fact, I think this was the youngest one’s first time meeting her. Nonetheless, they went upstairs to play with toys and after a while it got very quiet. I went up to check on them and they were all the way upstairs. I asked what they were doing up there and they came out to report that they were ‘taking Big Sister on a tour of their rooms’. Okay I said and went back downstairs. A bit later, my youngest niece came down to show me money form the cash register that ‘Big Sister’ had given to her. I thought it was so very cute how they had given her a pet name immediately and embraced her to so quickly.
After eating, we went outside for water gun play. The simple things can fill a child with such glee. I think my sister has perfected the skill of showing her children that they can be fully entertained by the simple things in life. No one could tell them that they were not having the time of their lives out there running back and forth wetting each other with the guns. I sat on the steps, innocently taking photos, only to be sprayed down a few times. But my sister a.k.a Cleopatra Jones came out in full force with two small water pistols blazing, fighting them off left and right. She got quite the work out herself running behind those kids the way she was. After that it was time for red light, green light and I was immediately taken back to my childhood. Watching Lainey freeze had me rolling on the ground.

At the end of the evening we all exchanged hugs and kisses as my family and I headed back home. Even my boy Ox gave me big sugar and asked when I was coming back. I told him soon and I cannot wait to see them all again!

Train Up A Child

Yesterday my children were complaining about going to church. I totally understand their perspective because I didn't always like going when I was a child. But I had to tell them that they are lucky. My sister, cousins and I had to go to church ALL the time. We never even skipped a Sunday. That meant getting up extra early because Sunday school started at 9:45am and church wasn't out until 1pm. Then sometimes there was something special going on and we'd have to go back to church right after eating Sunday dinner. That was particularly upsetting, though I tried to keep it in. We were always involved in some aspect of worship and when we grew older we sung on the youth choir, participated in pageants, held offices in Sunday school, read scriptures and annoucements, performed, recited and represented our church --- everywhere.

Our family was raised in the church and they drilled it in our heads so that when we were older, try as we may, there was no hiding from God. I can't say that everything we did was completely necessary but, we built lots of other skills from those activities. Getting to know God and developing a personal relationship with him was the ultimate bonus added to tons of positive benefits we received from our attendance. But I know it's tough for little ones under five years old. I'm taking it easy on them, while still setting a routine. I don't care how much they resist right now. It's my job to make sure they learn about God so I ignore their complaints. My hope is that even if they do part from their training when they grow up, it will only be for a short while.

Along with attending church, at home we read the bible for story time, discuss all religious holidays at length and occassionally watch christain DVDs. Veggie Tales are some of their favorites. I'm now on the lookout for some children's bibles with illustrations to help further engage their little minds. Sounds like alot, but God is mixed in among other topics they enjoy. I pray for them a long, fruitful life filled with servitude, the love of God and his many blessings.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

At the 99th Hour

Yesterday I was reporting to my fitness check in buddies that after several weeks of this new exercise program I have finally seen a change on the scale. My partners had encouraged me to hang in there all along and not to give up. It was hard work, especially when those pounds weren’t budging. Working to find a new printer for our books has been similar, to say the least. It felt a lot like the new exercise program. We decided long ago to get our own printer so that we’d have more control over the quality of our books and also be able to reduce the end cost to our customers. Futhermore, once starting our partnership we realized Polly&Meek must be stamped on all our products. As it stood, the company who printed for us were putting their logo on the back. Well no more.

After hanging in there and trying to be patient we’ve found a new printer. I was so excited when I called Meek yesterday to chat about it. Overcoming this major hurdle will solve a heap of problems and give us the freedom to create our next book more easily. I admit the timing on it was tough and things were looking dim. We still prayed and continued to hope that God would see us through and he did. Not only does this new breath breathe life into upcoming projects, but it seems as if God is giving us a thumbs up to go forth and keep doing his work. We pray that he will give us an even better product to share with you.

Continued Blessings,
Polly

Friday, June 26, 2009

Life's Miracles

I am expecting. As a matter of fact, I am in my final trimester and it will not be very long before I am holding my little girl in my arms. I confess that I am already looking forward to baby #2 and hoping and praying it is another little girl. Why? Because Sisters Are From Heaven and I want my little one to grow up with a sister that she can play with, share a room with and just be friends with. I want her to know the joys of having a sister that will be her sidekick and confidant. Just the thought of it makes me all giddy inside.

Before God ever blessed me with this awesome gift, I always said I wanted little boys. Boys are rough and tumble and I’m a rough and tumble sort of gal, so I figured that would be best. No girls for me, no washing, combing and braiding hair, no pink, pink everywhere, no screaming teens and head butting later in life. Nope, none of that. When I found out I was pregnant, I did not care what the baby was, I just wanted the baby period. Of course the hubbie was rooting for a boy all the way. There were times I was certain this little kick boxer was a boy and I would start to think, no cute frilly outfits, no hair bows and prom dresses, no wedding dress…I wanted to experience all that with my child and so I begin to long for a little girl. God knows the desires of our hearts even when we are a bit confused ourselves. He gives us what is best for us; we can always count on him for that.

The reality is I want girls and boys. I want to experience the best of both worlds. Children are a gift from God and I thank Him for my gift every single day.
Stay Blessed,
Meek

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Protection Plan for Your Company

There are but a few businesses that can truly be run as a one woman show. Even some of the simpliest ideas require more than one patner or hiring a few key employees. When your business is new and you're not quite running efficiently yet, it's understandable to be lax in this area. However, beware of keeping all the knowledge for self or for simply pawning off everything on your worker bees and therefore not knowing your business through and through. It could be a disaster if not handled from the start.

A few years ago there was a popular commericial where a company is going into a very important meeting with a client. The lead company rep gets caught in traffic or something and isn't able to make the meeting. Then the backup rep reaches down to get the backup files, while assuring the boss that everything is cool, and bangs his head on the end of the table. It's an instant knockout and the suprised, unprepared, unknowledgeable boss looks the client in the eye with a very nervous grin. Comical. But it could happen to you if you don't prepare. Likewise it could strike your business if you hold all the info. What if, God forbid, you fell ill or had some emergency and weren't able to manage your company for a while? Everything could go under in the blink of an eye. That's why you've got to plan and be ready for a few twists and turns in the business world.

Train a backup person or a least write an SOP (Standard Operation Procedure) handbook so that in the event you're down and out, there is a way for your business to thrive until you get back in the game. If you are the brains behind the idea but merely exsist as the puppetmaster now, make sure you know the whole song and dance just incase you've got to fill in by working below. Prepare for this by spending quality time on your product floor or in the mix of all operations which comprise your business. While you're at it put yourself in your customer's shoes as well, to assure that everyone's needs are being met. If you do these things your business will be better protected and you can rest a little be easier --- come what may.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Answer Your Calling

One of my very good friends recently started her own business!!! This came after the corporate company she worked for wrongfully discharged her after 8 years of service. She would email me from time to time to tell me how things were going and each time I would encourage her to start her own business and expand on the God-given talent I knew she possessed.

I was so very pleased when she emailed me to let me know that she has started her own business and was working to get her website off the ground and get her promotional items ordered. She is doing some contract work right now and has vowed that she will not re-enter the corporate world again. I say hallelujah and to God be the glory! Another one of his children has heard her calling and is venturing out into the world as a business owner!

I am anxiously awaiting my Paralegal Certificate so that I too can do contract work. I see this as yet another way to break free of the humdrum 8-5, working to fatten someone else’s pockets. I just want to work on my own terms and I know it can be done. I want to have time for my family and contribute to my household. In this dog eat dog world of 6 weeks paid maternity leave and 6 weeks FMLA, I think we are being done a dis-service. I do not want to have to choose between family and work. There is no competition in my book. This is why I am striving to make it happen. God did not give me the vision and the drive to achieve it, just to look at it and invision what could be. He has an awesome plan for all of us and I pray that we accept it and make the very best out of it.

Many Blessings,
Meek

Monday, June 15, 2009

8 Easy Marketing Tricks

In todays' cyberage it would seem that all you need for a successful business is to put a website and Presto! Your business should be booming. Well, sadly, that's not always the case. Sometimes you have to get your product out there the old fashion way and pray for a little word-of-mouth marketing to sell it. It may seem mundane, but connecting with your customers one-on-one can deepen your determination to make your business successful.

Here are some ways to scout for events at which to share your products with potential new customers who can pass along a good word about your business.

1. Check websites of competitors or other vendors who may be attending an upcoming event. They might post a link about it so you can get in on the action too.

2. Visit organizations websites that are closely related to your niche or industry. Make sure you join the most pertinent ones.

3. Subscribe to mailing lists and newsletters for companies and groups related to your business.

4. Search local and regional papers for events in your area.

5. Send promotional samples to various groups that may be interested in sharing your products and your mission.

6. Network at each event to obtain new connections and exchange info.

7. Never miss an opportunity to discuss, show or plug your product. Keep a sample or two in the car. Just in case!

8. Have respect for, listen and help those requesting info even if they don't buy your product. Being nice can go a long way!

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start marketing your wares!

And may God richly bless you,
Polly

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Return to Reading

Expanding on Polly’s previous post…I can recall the hot, humid days of summer in NC. We grew up most of our lives in a house without A/C so the summers were especially hot. Somehow that doesn’t phase a child much because I can recall being outside most of the day, even when the sun was high in the sky. My sister and I would often times escape to the cool comfort of our public library and be in there all day reading various books and playing on the computer.

I am sure Polly recalls my addiction to Sweet Valley High books. There was nothing I would not do to get my hot little hands on those sequel books and I once I got one, I would read and read and read. I remember one day my grandmother got fed up with how much I was reading and told me to put the book down and go outside and get some air. I knew then, as I know now, that it was not that she did not support my willingness and passion to read, she just wanted me to do something other than JUST read. As the years progressed and I went off to college and reading became less and less fun. Who wanted to read about Organic Chemistry, Physics and other forced readings in English Literature? Argggh!!! I quickly built an aversion to the whole daggone thing. There was simply no time for leisure reading for enjoyment, now it was forced readings. When I graduated I shunned all books and literature altogether. I would think of the headboard in my mother’s room where she stored book, after book, after book and cringe in disbelief at how much she used to read. Its laughable now, but college ruined me…only for a minute though. Reading was in my blood (something I know I got from my mother) as was journeling and writing poetry (she loved to do that too). After my mother’s passing, I slowly began to get back into reading for pleasure. I have to admit I do not read as much as I’d like to, but I am getting there. Most of the time I am reading some article so as to stay abreast of what is happening around me.

Now, I look forward to reading to my little one. I will sit and read to her in utero and each night before bed. Reading is fundamental, educational and enlightening…on top of that its fun. I want my children to embrace that and I plan to start them out early.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Summer Reading

As the temperature continues to rise and summer prepares for a long awaited return, I drift off into dreamland. Smoky smells from seared hot dogs, beefy burgers and twice marinated ribs waft into my nose. I let out a long, slow sigh while imagining the afternoon backporth barbeques to come. All the sweet sunshine tea I can drink and thoughts of me with a full belly, plopping to a comfy hammock; my latest good read clutched tightly.

Not much satisfies like a good book. Even though I've waited until adulthood to discover this--- better late than never. Reading is that much sweeter now that I'm free to select what I want to read and not be pressured to get a good grade upon completion. I have the pleasure to peruse the holdings of the public library, view the bestseller lists and look for all sorts of exciting works by which to become enthralled. My preschoolers fuel this, and it seems they have a natural affinity for storytelling. As a children's writer any of the the books my kids select become instant research for our writing business. Which brings me to another point. No one says summer reading should only consist of novels and other fiction works. There are tons of good marketing, business and networking guides that may not read like a novel, but can still be a page-turner when the bottom line is at stake.

So whatever book you decide to cuddle up with, take time to enjoy it. Sir Richard Steele put it best, "Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body." Pump up those brain muscles this summer!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

He Speaks To Me

The lightning and thunder crash all around us and the children are rightfully shaken. It's 9:15pm and they are still unable to sleep amist what must be a raging storm to their young ears. But it is mild. I remember being just as afraid when I was a little girl. Seems like the storm would almost always knock the power out. Even if it didn't, Mama would quiet us down and turn off all electric appliances, especially the TV. We weren't allowed to move a muscle. "The Lord is talking," she'd say. It was disrespectful to be doing anything. Over time it was the sound of His voice, not Mama's, that made everyone in our house stop everything and just listen.

As I sit tonight, with a sermon going on outside, I feel like I'm caught between two worlds. Physically, I'm in between the girls' room and Orion's so that they all can see me and feel comfortable enough to fall asleep. In one ear the solo flute lulls and in the other Miles Davis' trumpet wails. Both are equally beautiful. But better still is the sound of nature. God is talking. Telling me I am right where I should be. And I am listening for his instructions.

What I hear: Stay the course. Do not be swayed by easy or fast money. Finish what I told you to do. Wait and pray. Praise and uplift me. Write about my love. Stay available to your family. Keep my word in your heart.

What I say: Here I am Lord, ready to do your will. Please give me the words and guide my hands. All praises belong to you.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Surviving In a Recession

Previously, I blogged and encouraged those seeking extra funds in this time of recession to start their own business. I continue to stand by this suggestion. I confessed my love of craigslist and wanted to share that craigslist can also be a way of helping other small businesses or odds and ends type jobs stay afloat as we feel the brunt of cutbacks.

We had some materials that needed to be hauled away to the city dump and our SUV was not large enough to do the job, nor did my husband have the time. I placed an ad on craigslist describing what needed to be hauled and the price I was offering to do it. I immediately began to get responses! There were two in particular, one from a guy who said he was not a professional, just a guy with some free time who needed extra money and another from a college student who had a pick up truck and was trying to make extra money for school. In the end, the college student won out and he came by to pick the material up. He confessed that he was taking the metal parts to the metal scrap yard for extra money and then the other stuff to the dump. When he said that, we found a few extra pieces of scrap metal that needed to be gotten rid of, so he could add to the rest. I was so pleased with his ambition and determination to make ends meet by doing work and by knowing he could sell the metal and get some extra money. I was happy to have had the exchange with the young man. We both benefited from the transaction.

This past weekend my sister and I enjoyed ourselves at the Ruritan Indoor Flea Market. We set up for book sales and she brought in some goods from home to sale. There was men, women and children’s clothes, children’s shoes, crib sets, a glider, a rocker and jewelry and trinkets. That stuff was selling like hotcakes. It was priced right and she was able to walk away with a bit under $100. I was so proud and excited!

I still believe that we can make it even during these rough times. We may have to readjust our mindset and spending for a period of time, but we do not have to lack. God wants us to be fulfilled and happy. We have to use the resources around us. Just take a look, they are so very plentiful!

Many Blessings,

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tales of a Risk Taker

I missed my day to blog on Monday because I physically could not do it. I sat here looking at the computer screen with my right arm in a sling. The doctor says it may be broken and only time will tell. Apparently the X-ray was too hard to read with all the fluid and swelling. So, here I am. One-arm-Polly after a mom's night out to a local roller skating rink. We were well into the evening when I had my little accident --- speed skating at the tender age of 34. Of course I had signed the liability wavier before trading my sneakers for roller skates. But even if I had not signed it, I still hold myself accountable. I went in there knowing full well that I might fall. I prayed to God that I wouldn't break any bones and went on without worry. All I wanted last weekend was to have a little fun and for a few hours I had a ball. The pain from a dislocated elbow and a trip to the emergency room leads to my resolve; next time I'll where elbow pads!

Some folks say I'm crazy because I did it, but I just can't sit on the sidelines of life and not be involved. Because what if I didn't give it a try, what would happen then? That's right --- NOTHING! So my very nature demands that I go out on a limb (so to speak) every once in a while. It's the same reasoning I apply to business. That may mean cashing in an old IRA or scraping together other funds to reinvest in my ongoing vision. No matter the case, you've got to give some to get some. The outcome may not always be pretty, er...that elbow hurt like the dickens! But at least I can say, I took a chance. I seized an opportunity. So? I fell down. But look at me now! I'm typing again and it is only Wednesday. Who knows what I'll be able to do come next week? This isn't the first bone I've broken in my old age and I might bend a few more before it's all over. (Please God, no...)

I am a risk taker and I lived to tell the story. Was there ever a time that you stuck your neck out there?

Monday, April 27, 2009

In The Meantime...

Delay is not denial. While you are waiting on God to see you through and put you where he promised you would be, do remember to make the most of where you are. Here are a few ways to show a little gratitude...in the meantime.

1. Have an attitude of service - Blessing others can provide unspeakable joy.

2. Say thank you - He doesn't make a way because we've been so good. It's by his grace.

3. Take it all in - Stop and smell the flowers by paying close attention to the small miracles of God.

4. Proclaim his goodness - He deserves our praises just because he's Lord. Never miss a moment to pass the message along to a neighbor.

5. Be diligent - Idle hands can lead to a missed opportunity. Stay on task and work hard toward your goal.

Waiting isn't always easy, but there are real benefits to serving God as we prepare for his blessings. Please believe! For he will make good on his promise. Happiness can be yours today and tomorrow.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Today (now yesterday since I posted this late) would have been our mother’s 53rd birthday had she survived her battle against breast cancer. She is the one who taught me to protect my sister at all costs. I will never forget that day at the playground. We were visiting relatives and were sent to play at the park that was adjacent to the house. A few of the neighborhood girls did not like the fact that we were outsiders playing in ‘their park’. They begin to bully us, demanding that we leave. My sister, normally the quiet one, continued to play until one of the girls approached her closely as if she wanted to start a fist fight. Well, knowing my sister the way I did, I did NOT want her to unleash that fierce tiger within. She was always so quiet and never fought unless backed into a corner. Once she was in that corner, she always came out victorious every single time. I disliked seeing her pushed to that point because I felt it was something she did not want to have to do. I always felt my sister was a sensitive being, always trying to be peaceful and avoiding discord. I jumped from the jungle gym and ran to get our mother, telling her that some girls were at the park bullying us and now Polly was about to fight one of them. My mother looked at me in bewilderment, grabbed me by my arm, looked me straight in the eyes and said ‘You don’t ever leave your sister!’ She gave me one push toward the door and I understood exactly what it meant. I was to report back to that playground immediately and stand beside my sister for whatever was to come. And that is exactly what I did! We never had any issues at that park again and that was the day I decided that I was the one who would protect my sister from anyone who tried to push her around.

My mother was a strong, outspoken woman. She did not tolerate much from people and she taught us to be the same way…to demand respect, walk with pride and love and protect each other no matter what. Those very simple lessons have stuck with me throughout childhood and now into adulthood. I am sure she would be so proud of the love and respect Polly and I have for one another. I envision her prancing around heaven, looking down on us and saying ‘those are my babies’. I am certain she is gushing with pride when she see’s how my sister is instilling the same positive values in her children.

When people tell me I am like my mother I smile. Like mother, like daughter in so many ways. Yes…indeed!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Family Fun


It seems I never realize how much I love spring until I'm longing for short sleeve shirts, pretty flowers and warm air blowing across my face. Spring weather also makes me more apt to plan family outings. So when this weekend's temperatures finally soared, I couldn't wait to get outside and soak it up.

Our children are small and one of their favorite pasttimes is park hopping. We go to all the good ones we can fit in over a weekend. My husband will join us even if he has to meet us later. The kids love this and so do I because I know it'll end in pizza or carryout on the way home :p. We're an outside bunch so it doesn't take much sunshine for us to log some quality time. We've been known to all wash the car together or just play in the front/backyard for an hour. No matter what we do, it's made better by spending time with each other.

One of my fondest memories from last year was shopping for a ceiling fan together. Although Home Depot or Lowe's outings are generally resevered for date night (don't laugh!) this time we took the kids. It was funny because we split the kids between us and pushed separate shopping carts as we looked around the store. We kept running into each other and swapping children while we daydreamed about longshot home improvements. It must have been 100° that day and so we ended with a trip to Baskin Robbins. Yum! Yum!

I'm also a big fan of outside festivals and we try to find a few to attend when it's warm. One of my favorites was this weekend: The 19th Annual Leesburg Flower and Garden Festival. Okay, so we've only been once, but it was a big hit. They have a huge area for children with painting, music and activities. The food is great (especially the smoothies) and walking around to view the flowers is free. Can't beat that!

Hurray for spring and yay for family time! What does your family do for fun?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Amazon.com Review

If you have read our children's picture book, Sisters Are From Heaven, please visit Amazon and provide a customer review!

Have Faith

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. - Hewbrews 11:1.

That's one of my favorite bible verses because it speaks to my heart and reminds me to trust God. I put it to the test on the Saturday before Easter at the flea market. It was pouring down outside and didn't look like anything was going to be sold that day. I even considered whether to sit it out and call Meek to save her a trip across town. The hall itself only contained two other vendors and it looked desolate beyond the first few tables. Instead of spring, winter seemed to be back and was threatening to stay.

No matter, I thought. I'll go forward because we need to get to focused on face-to-face selling. Besides, God doesn't take you to a place to abandon you. I didn't know what would happen, but I had faith that it would be all right. So I set up and got prepared for work. My partner arrived within the hour and before long we were chatting it up with whom ever paused at our table. One of our friends came by and even blessed us by making a purchase. Soon after, we started to see a steady stream of people dropping in and a few more came to our table to buy books. Some bought cookies too! It was Easter weekend so I just couldn't help baking and decorationg a few sweets for our table. It paid off.

After the event, we gave high praises to God as we enjoyed some hot Chick-fil-a. Only he could have taken a day like that and made it a success. However, he needed us to show up. So the showing up, was equivalent to showing faith in this situation. When has your faith been tested and then rewarded? How did you feel?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Looking for a Bargain?

Come shop for great deals and interesting finds at the Sterling Flea Market! The Sterling Ruritan Club hosts the event every 2nd Saturday of the month from April through September. Polly&Meek will have a table there tomorrow, April 11. We'll have plenty books, calendars, and Easter/Spring decorated cookies. The sale is from 8am to 12pm, 183 Ruritan Rd., Sterling, VA 20164. Come join us!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Lesson On Forgiveness

She knelt down and looked into her daughter's eyes and said 'We are going to have to forgive each other. I forgive you for not being as good as you could have been while we were in church and you are going to have to forgive me for pulling you aside and making you sit down beside me. We have to forgive each other, that is just what the preacher said today in his sermon'. With that they hugged and made up and I saw my youngest neice's attitude begin to shift from embarassed and hurt, to happier.

Learning to forgive...it is one of the themes in our children's picture book, Sisters Are From Heaven. Its short and sweet and depicts two sisters hugging and making up and reads 'and if she hurts our feelings, then we'd learn to forgive her'. It is a such a positive reinforcement that is instilled in us as children and we carry forward into our adult lives. Forgiveness is not always easy and even after my sister and her daughter hugged and made up, the little one was not instantly happy. It took a little additional coaxing and gentle persuasion to get her to completely come back around. She went from embarassed and hurt, to stubbornly forgiving, to forgetting it all and loving every second of her day.
Forgiveness is in everyone of us. Sometimes it's buried deep down beneath the hurt and pain, but it is still there. Do not be afraid to spread a bit of it around. You will brighten your and someone else's day!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Discovering Your Gift


God has given to each of us, gifts. Ephesians chapter 4 speaks to this and the fullness of God. When I first came across this passage in the bible I didn't know what my true calling was, but I believed that God would reveal it and bless me to work within it. After all, working for someone else isn't as thrilling as working for self, and working for self isn't as fulfilling as working for God.

The quest to find my gift began with a questionaire given at church one Sunday. It was designed to narrow down the areas where one might be gifted and to display optional career paths. My anwers indicated areas like leadership, service and teaching, if I remember correctly. I didn't trust the results for a second and I was disappointed because I sensed there was something missing; something the survey didn't say. So I prayed. I literally prayed day and night and felt like Jacob wrestling with the angel. I am not not going to let you go until you bless me! I wanted God to show me what my gift was so that I could be happy. I was miserable dealing with the situation at my current job, even though it paid the bills and then some. Instead, I wanted to feel a joy overflowing when doing the thing(s)that God had equipped me to do. I longed to show the world that the master had spoken on my behalf. "This is her gift", I imagined people saying. So I could not fail. I was already growing tired of being tested by those who felt they had power to validate me... or not.

More Research

I jotted down all the things I liked to do, whether good at them or not, and with no regard to frequency of task. My list conatained things like sewing, finances, and drawing. I wrote about what I thought I was good at and allowed myself to explore subjects I thought I hated like cooking and exercise. I kept expounding on likes and dislikes of various tasks until I was left with a few areas of interest. I even learned that I actally enjoyed some things I had thought I didn't.

But that's not how I found my gift. Self-assessment was a big key, but it was God who put the yearning in me, thus only God could reveal it. The kicker was that he had not been trying to keep it a secret, as I suspected. It was I. I was the one repressing the gift so that I might gain fortune through an easier, smarter route. The thought never crossed my mind about how happy I'd be working to my true calling. I couldn't fathom the joy I'd feel while glorifying my saviour, and at the same time knowing he would totally provide for me.

Finding It

Fast forward several years and I can now say that my gift is writing. It seems so obvious now, but arriving at this point took some time. So maybe your passion is your gift or maybe you don't have a clue about what you're able to do. Then, there is no other way. Ask the Lord to show you and support you. He will provide clarity and with it a certain peace. Absorb it, then work energitically and with all your heart. Move with purpose for he hath done great things. Identifying your gift is just the beginning. The best is yet to come!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Slumping Economy? Need More Money? Start Your Own Business!


We hear it on every TV station these days...'We are in a recession and it will take some time to turn the economy around.' What are we to do with sky-rocketing prices? How are we supposed to meet the needs for ourselves and our families? I say, start your own business!

Yes, you read correctly. Take your hobby and turn it into a full-filling and lucrative business.

What is it that you enjoy doing? Selling items on ebay or Craigslist, photography, baking, sewing, housekeeping or organizing? Put those passions to use and make some extra dough on the side.

One of my co-workers just started a handbag business. She is a newlywed and new mom and took her love for handbags to a new level. She says the response has been great and she has plans to introduce her Spring collection in the coming weeks. Who knew something so simple could be so lucrative? I too love handbags, but I do not always like to go out and shop for them. Now, I have the convenience of just looking through her inventory on my lunch break and buying the bags I want. I think it is simple and fantastic!

The list does not stop with just this particular co-woker. I work with a very talented group of individuals. Although we all have day jobs, the majority of us still have a passion or hobby that we have decided to turn into a small business. From web design, logo creations, selling avon and pampered chef, to landscaping businesses, we do it all! We love and enjoy it and it gives us a sense of pride and accomplishment that most 9 to 5 jobs simply cannot provide. And starting your own business is not as hard as one might think. I held off on taking my hobby to the next level because I thought taking the time to make the business official would take too long and be too expensive. Boy was I wrong! Depending on what you want to do, you can be in business tomorrow.

The government keeps telling us to stimulate the economy in order to stop the downward spiral, but in this time of layoffs and cutbacks, we've got to take matters into our own hands and use our God given talents to make the world a more positive place. What started out as a serious hobby for me, has blossomed into a full fledged small business. My passion is photography and book writing. What is yours?