The year began with an intense need: the dust had to go. As production had ramped up in the
garage woodshop, the sawdust was now a real problem. In the air. On me. Importantly, in the house. We either had to embrace a more, uh, rustic lifestyle, or we needed to fix it.
So we did.
The biggest tool upgrade I’ve ever done was the result. We installed a new dust collection system to help corral the by-product of all of the cutting boards that I was creating. That story became the most read blog post of the year … and was, more importantly, a very real upgrade in our living conditions. I was no longer breathing as much dust, and Velda was no longer having to remove as much dust from our home every single day. Thankfully, I had help from the Building Inspector & the Engineer. See the pictures and read the story, here and here.
With the equipment in place, I got busy in the shop. I began to make Magic Bottle Openers in earnest, and they proved to be the runaway best-selling product for me in 2016: I sold over 200 of them! It seems that many people know a beer drinker that needs a little magic in their life.
Making soap is science. Caustic chemicals are involved, and exothermic reactions result. Velda became obsessed with soap early this year, and started stockpiling. That’s good, as when she makes her cold process soap, it has to sit on the shelf for 4 – 6 weeks to cure before it can be sold. That necessitated a soap drying rack in addition to the 6 molds (and counting) that I have made her.
The results speak for themselves!
All of our machinations in the Mrs M world were just a side show for this year’s main event: the arrival of Camdyn Grace on April 1. Payton got her little sister!
Velda got to spend some quality time as Grandmother with both granddaughters before returning to our out-of-control hobby, AKA Mrs M’s Handmade. Mrs M # 2 got a pass for this year, as she needed to attend to Camdyn. Velda & I hit the spring events with gusto, using her new purpose-built display to incorporate the introduction of soap. The business bought a trailer to haul the goods, and we ended up doing 10 events in the second quarter. Results far exceeded our expectations. And, as much as we enjoy doing Mrs M’s, it was great to relax a bit through the summer.
And by relaxing, I mean we made more product.
We finally got to keep an important appointment in July, and got photographs made of Payton sitting in our family’s little rocking chair – a chair first purchased by Payton’s Great Great Great Grandmother Boring as a Christmas present 121 years ago today. That story was told here, A Family Heirloom.
There were no big work changes in the family this year. Christopher continues helping to manage Castaic Lake & Pyramid Lake for the LA County Parks & Rec department. He supervises cashiers, boat inspectors, and a vast recreation area. Following Camdyn’s birth, Alley returned to her job with the city of Palmdale processing building permits & such.
Brianna is in her 3rd year of teaching at Sierra Vista Junior High. She now has 2 choir classes (!) as well as English classes. She eagerly anticipates completing her Masters in Education in 2017, and being done with life as a student … at least for a while! Michael continues with Crane Aerospace & Electronics and continues to marvel at how truly large bureaucracies function.
Lauren is now the assistant manager at Sunshine Daycare, and continues to work closely with the kindergartners there. She loves the kids … here’s a story she shared just a few days ago:
Today I was asked if Santa was real by a first grade boy. In response, I asked him if he believed. He said yes, but that another boy doesn’t. I told him that some people believe and some people don’t and just because some people don’t, that doesn’t mean Santa isn’t real. If he believes, that’s all that matters. Then, I asked the boy who I was told doesn’t believe why he doesn’t believe. He looked at me stumped and explained that he just has no idea how Santa could possibly get to all the kids in one night. Before I could even speak, another boy butted in with “THATS WHAT CHRISTMAS MAGIC IS, ITS REAL!!”
I love working with kids.
Eric continues to manage the family business and decorate his house with Lauren’s help. Their latest addition is a new kitten, named Pivo – which means beer in Slovak – that they brought home just yesterday.
Velda has now been with Kaiser for 15 years, but has transitioned away from her nursing home responsibilities into more of a community-based primary care role. She runs clinics at several area assisted living facilities, and has more than 150 patients that she provides care for in their homes. Is she busy? You bet. She often explains to Mrs. M’s customers the reason she makes soap and lotions: “I have yet to give someone lotion and make them cry!” Not so in her “real job,” where many need to be led through their aging or end of life crisis, and tears are common.
I continue with Smarts Broadcast Systems as Director of Marketing; I’ve now been there 5 years. One of my favorite things to do with them is interview broadcasters; those interviews publish in the Small Market Radio Newsletter as well as on our website. You can read those interviews, here.
Today, we are blessed to be with all of our kids at Christopher & Alley’s house. It just doesn’t get much better than that.
Merry Christmas to you and your family. May the holiday spirit stay with you throughout a wonderful 2017!