Saturday, May 31, 2008

Seen on the door...

of an accounting firm:

We provide:
Best Quality
Best Service
Best Price

Choose two.

Isn't that about how it goes? You get what you pay for! :) Mitch saw that when delivering packages.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Copyrights, Trademarks, and--you guessed it--Patents

I figured it's about time I address the issue (returning to the issue for some parts) of copyrights, trademarks, and patents. Being not a lawyer I am going to make a self-educated attempt at explaining the aforementioned in layman's terms and how they apply to my life. (With a nod to my cousin, Chrissy, who IS a lawyer, and so graciously reads my blog.)

The reason this topic is rising [again] is mostly due to a peer of mine undergoing some legal pressure from a big name company bully. My peer is also a diaper manufacturer, and the point in question is a debate over whether the name "pampered" is trademark infringement. It is not, in my opinion, yet because some big-name company with billions of dollars wants to say it is, they say it is. Bullies on the playground.

It may help to have a little background by reading the story here:

Basically my peer applied for a trademark to register her company name, which included the name "Pampered." After filing and paying the fees, she received a letter from the bully's lawyer, which said she must abandon her trademark application and also, "agree not to use the trademark PAMPERED, PAMPERS or any derivative thereof on any baby related product, including, but not limited to diapers and wipes, or in any other manner likely to create confusion with P&G’s famous PAMPERS trademark."

Gasp. I just gave it away.

Anyways, it really frustrates me! On what grounds can they demand she agree not to use the name pampered on any baby related product? She appeared on t.v. relating this topic, and the t.v. reporter also interviewed someone from the big company. This person suggested that a "simple trademark search" would have revealed that the name was taken. Ahem. It IS NOT. In fact, a SIMPLE trademark search for the name "Pampered" revealed TWO unrelated companies making/selling BABY RELATED products under the same trademarked name.


Basically, they are telling her to stop using the name Pampered, claiming it is trademark infringement, and that it will confuse people. (Yeah, because people will be SO confused when they end up with cloth diapers instead of disposables). But the basis of their argument is absolutely ridiculous. There ARE other companies selling baby related products under the name Pampered. Under the REGISTERED trademark name Pampered. And a simple search would have let the big-name company realize that. Duh.

Do I have to mention what implication this has on Pampered Cheeks?

Well, I have not received one of these letters. I have not applied for a trademark and I refuse to do so. And here is why: What is the purpose of a registered trademark? This page right here is what made me decide not to:
Since the uspto tends to change their site frequently and make links go dead, here's the important part:
"Is registration of my mark required?

No. You can establish rights in a mark based on legitimate use of the mark. However, owning a federal trademark registration on the Principal Register provides several advantages, e.g.,
  • constructive notice to the public of the registrant's claim of ownership of the mark;
  • a legal presumption of the registrant's ownership of the mark and the registrant's exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods and/or services listed in the registration;
  • the ability to bring an action concerning the mark in federal court;
  • the use of the U.S registration as a basis to obtain registration in foreign countries; and
  • the ability to file the U.S. registration with the U.S. Customs Service to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods."
Apparently the so-called "protection" that a registered mark provides is not really all that great/helpful in my (and my peer's) situation...therefore, I won't be needing the service. I think that I have adequately, for my own purposes at this time, "established rights" in my mark. Of course, I'm not a lawyer.

To add to the topic while I'm on it, my patterns are automatically protected by copyright, as are my website, my blog, and anything else I create/write. That means you cannot copy my written words/patterns without my permission. If, however, you obtain a copy of my pattern, there is nothing that I can do to stop you from making AND selling your own diapers made from the pattern. That is NOT protected by copyright, because diapers are useful objects.
If you do that, do not infringe on the trademark by calling your diapers "Pampered Cheeks." IF my diapers were made with some original or unique idea and I could prove that NO ONE else had ever thought of this idea, then I could patent the idea and prevent you from making diapers like that. THEY ARE DIAPERS. We, as far as we know, have been diapering kids for the past 6,000+ years. I can't patent a whole dang diaper, so all I could possibly patent is some small feature, which you could easily work around.

Got it? :)

Basically the uspto charges an exorbitant amount of money for a service that is not exactly what you think it is and falls short when you need it most. Kind of humbling, huh?

That's my lecture on the topic for today, and hopefully I won't be revisiting it for a while. If I do happen to get one of those letters, well, I probably will not just roll over and die. Nor change my company name. But I probably will cry a little bit before I calm down and figure out how I'm going to fight.

One thing I know for sure. P&G does not honor God with their business practices. The God I serve is bigger and better than their's. My business rises and falls only by His grace. When He calls it to be over, it will be over. It belongs in His hands. :)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Praying for the Chapmans

I have loved the music and talent of Steven Curtis Chapman for just about as long as I have loved Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith. (That would be way back when I was a very little girl going to Vacation Bible School at a tiny little country church in Rose Hill, VA). I have a lot of respect for SCC because of his charity and the grace he has extended to many in their own walks of tragedy. He has been a great Christian example. I was devastated to read about the tragic death of his 5 year old daughter, Maria, on Wednesday evening. If you haven't heard yet, you can find out more on a blog they set up in memory of Maria:

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The newest "family member"

No, it's not another dog, thank goodness. It's not anything that breathes, requires food and potty breaks, for that matter.

My darling hubby squeaked up a rare find to surprise me for Mother's Day. For the past year I have been using his mom's Bernina Record 830 sewing machine. It is a fantastic machine that rarely complains about anything and can sew at a quick and efficient enough pace to suit even me. On December 31, 2007, I meandered into my favorite sewing & vac center and bought a Baby Lock Creative Pro sewing machine. After the first week, my disappointment settled deeply, and I gradually pushed the machine away and kept sewing on Karen's machine.

Why didn't I just get a machine like Karen's to begin with? Well, first of all, they were made way back when I was born. So they're like, 29 years old. Maybe even a little older than I. :) Secondly, after needling and prodding we finally discovered they originally sold for around $600. Well, they STILL sell for that much on ebay if you are lucky enough to find one in good condition. And you never know what you're going to get on ebay (my sister is lucky enough, but I'm not always so fortunate at buying).

I did buy a Bernina 930 at the same time as the Baby Lock, but I never intended to keep it. I pulled it out and sewed on it for a little bit, but it was a totally different machine. :P We paid $450 or so for it and sold it on ebay for over $900. :) That was the plan from the beginning, and was a researched investment.

That sort of made my Baby Lock machine free.

Even if it is not up to par.

Well, my knight in shining armor realized recently that my machine just wasn't cutting it (perhaps the inch of dust on top was his first clue, and the constant sewing on his mom's machine the second clue). He began searching for a new machine. He had me ask all my friends what they use. He perused ebay to find the right machine. Then totally to my surprise he came home one day carrying a cabinet custom made for a Bernina 830. He showed me all the cool features, and I loved it, but all the time I had this nasty thought in the back of my mind, "That's great for Karen." LOL. He went out to the truck and came back carrying a beautiful red case. Out came a perfect condition Bernina 830.

You see, in his travels as a Fedex guy he has made many friends. Including friends with many sewing machine dealers. :)

Together with the cabinet the machine cost $600. And no, I'm not going to sell it on ebay. It is beautiful, sews beautifully, and is fantastic in every way. My only complaint is I actually had to clean my sewing room and rearrange drastically to fit it in. Karen's machine is now going off to the shop for a well-deserved cleaning and tune-up!
Here it is:

Here is some of the fabric "mess" I have going on. Since I rearranged everything, I can't find anything now...hence all the neon name tags. :)

For the record, I have also been paying myself a per diaper wage since April 30. That amount has reached $722!! I'm blown away ecstatic. Aren't you? :)

Prince Caspian

We went to see the movie on Sunday after church. The kids were ecstatic. Poor Caleb didn't even want to go to church (but conceded after learning that the first showing would not start until church was almost over anyways). He was probably the most outwardly excited of all our kids. A little background on Caleb...this boy perpetually lives in the future. He talks endlessly about what he is going to do when he grows up. It's gotten to the point where I have started writing some of his plans down. I'll share them another time. The kids had been counting down the days. Caleb had listened to the radio drama version at least twice last week. He was ready! The appointed time to leave finally arrived. We slid into our chairs just in time to see most of the previews (oh joy...more movies to daydream about seeing). For the next 2.5 hours Caleb actually lived in the present. It was astounding. He was so enraptured in the movie that he hardly ate one handful of popcorn. He loved it.

Here is how everyone else fared:
Eden ate most of the popcorn herself (she's kind of the popcorn queen), but I did help a lot too.
Zeke and Josh made one potty trip, right in the middle of storming Miraz's castle.
Malachi nursed off and on, wollering me to death, until he finally fell asleep. He stayed asleep until the very end.
Micah is forever a "black OR white" kind of guy--it's either right or wrong and there's no gray area. He was quite disappointed that the movie turned out to be SO different from the book and radio drama.

Nevermind that I warned them repeatedly before going that the movie was different than the book.

It turns out that I had set myself up for it so much I was surprised by how similar it was to the book!

Can you guess what the first thing Caleb said when we walked in the door at home afterwards?

"Can I listen to 'The Voyage of the Dawn Treader' on c.d.?"

Oh my, it's going to be a long year until the next movie is out...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Great Survey!

I was listening to a broadcast on the radio tonight from Crown Financial Ministries, and hopped on their website to complete free survey. It was pretty fun. Here is my personality profile. :)

General Description
As a Deep Thinker, you are analytical, logical, and philosophical in your sincere search for meaning, truth, and purpose in life. You are able to cut through emotion and confusion to draw incisive conclusions from observations, data, and research.

Typical Areas of Strength
Deep Thinkers, like you, tend to be logical, organized, conscientious, thorough, analytical, and prepared. You are very focused and strive for high standards, precision, and integrity in all you do.

Typical Areas of Struggle
Due to your tendency to be somewhat perfectionist in your approach to life, you may feel more disappointment than most people when truth or your ideals are violated. At times, your family and friends may feel that you are hypersensitive and too easily offended by suggestions or criticism.

Your Preferred Activities
To maximize your talents, you look for situations in which you can be given time to process ideas at a deep level -- to think, reason, analyze, and organize details into logical, creative, and pragmatic solutions.

Your Communication Style
You tend to communicate impersonally through the logical presentation of well-thought-out ideas and facts. Often, the explanations of your thought processes go far deeper than others wish to explore.

What do you think? Based on my blog, I'd think that's a pretty accurate description of me. ;) How funny!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Just checking in...

Not much new going on here!

Yesterday Malachi crawled into the bathroom and managed to get his hands on a bottle of baby wash, spilling a good deal of it on the floor. The same bottle of baby wash I asked Micah about 30 min before to put out of reach. Yeah. That was a lot of fun to clean up! Hehe--Malachi finally got a bath out of the deal, though. He really needed had been at least 2 weeks since his last bath. Oye!

See, I told you there wasn't much to report!

The kids are anxiously winding down their last lessons of school. Today they are on lesson number 152 of 170. We still need to order and administer their standardized tests. Mitch will take care of that responsibility, since he's the one with the degree and actual teaching license. Of course, finding the free time to do it will be the biggest challenge. Hopefully the test results won't be terribly inaccurate if he has to wait until June to give them. Since the results will be compared to the kids' peers, most of their peers took the tests in the middle of the school year--technically our kids have an advantage being farther into the school year.

During the summer I hope to pick back up on the Bible curriculum. We sort of let that slip here through recent months. When we start back up in the fall I'm going to be much more disciplined! We are also going to study Spanish together this summer. I have a fun workbook to work through with them, and a c.d. series full of games. I think they will pick up the basic words very easily. This will give us something fun to focus on each day and hopefully scare away summer boredom. I have agreed to let Eden work ahead on 4th grade history if she wants to (history is her favorite subject), and will be happy to let Micah work ahead on something if he chooses also. Caleb has been asking if he can just skip the rest of his phonics and do it this summer. To which I emphatically replied, "No."

They are such little manipulators!! :)

I want to start preschool with Zeke this fall, with a heavy emphasis on reading. That should go really well. He is very interested. He will turn 5 in October. I'm sure that being a boy means he would not have the patience to sit still in a classroom, but his brain is showing readiness for learning. It will be good to work on that at home.

Josh is being a curly-head cutie. He has grown leaps and bounds in his vocabulary and communication. He mainly copies the older kids in words and actions. He doesn't always understand well what we are saying to him. We make lots of jokes about this! The other day Mitch gave each of the kids and Airheads candy. He asked Josh, "Where is your airhead, Josh?" Josh replied cheerfully as he patted his head, "Right here, Daddy!" :)

Malachi is loving the warmer weather and playing outside. The first time he crawled out on the deck he leaned up on his knees, threw his head back, arms to the sky and just sat there with this expression that said, "Wow!" It was priceless. And I was seconds too late with my camera. He now makes a bee-line for the deck door anytime it is open. He is really balancing well on his feet. He will crawl along and then just stand up right in the middle of the room. He's not really taking any steps on his own, though, just standing up. He walks with help or along behind a toddler walker thing. He clearly thinks the whole thing is a lot of fun. He's working hard on his fine-motor skills too. The other day he had a pencil and an empty pepsi bottle (wonder where he found that?!). He kept putting the pencil into the narrow opening of the bottle, then dumping it out over and over again. I was pretty impressed. We have a magnet from Leap Frog on the fridge that has an alphabet with it. It sings the alphabet, too. He loves to "sing" the alphabet along with this thing. Very cute. "Ah Ah Ah Ah..." over and over through the whole song.

Speaking of the alphabet toy, Zeke and Josh love to sing along too. Zeke knows almost 100% of the letters, and Josh knows better than 50%. It's really cool!

Now that I think about it, Malachi is really vocal too. He always has been a crier ("Mala-cry"), and now that he's older he's just very loud in normal speech too. He loves to crawl along behind Mitch going, "Da da da." He "yells" at the older kids, me, everyone. He jabbers on in nonsensical language about just about everything he's doing. Every now and then we think we hear actual words. It's pretty fun.

That's about it for now. I should go find some lunch then actually go do some work (there's plenty of that to go around)! Thanks for stopping by to check on us! :)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

April 08 Customs

At first count I was getting less than 100 diapers for April. I was feeling a little disappointed...after all, April didn't feel *that* easy. (Oh the irony!!). Just when I was about to upload the photos and call it "good", by a stroke of good fortune I found 12 more diapers I had misplaced the photos for. :) That brought the total above 100. I am not going back to count them. If you are that bored/interested, then be my guest. Feel free to post the count in the comments. LOL.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Catching Up on Sleep

Yesterday we enjoyed a great day at our friend's house, just hanging out and playing yard games. Apparently I was a little behind on sleep...

This brings a whole new meaning to sun bathing...

The temperature was actually 71 degrees when we left at 5:30 pm. I just feel so bad nodding off on my friends like that. This is what lots of late nights sewing diapers will do to you!! I must have slept for over an hour. It was really windy outside, otherwise I'm sure I would have at least taken my jacket off.

Ok, here's one more just so you know I didn't sleep the entire time. I enjoyed a game of Kuub with Mitch, Mark, and John. I also ran around the field with a kite, finally getting it up after modifying its construction.

Friday, May 02, 2008

A New Chore Game

I came up with a new game today to get my older 3 children to do chores. This seemed to work pretty well, so I thought I'd share it. It doesn't in any way mean it will work well next time...but it caught them so off guard that they couldn't think of a way to manipulate the rules fast enough for today. :)

Micah (the oldest) started out as the leader. I am constantly encouraging him to lead by actions, not by words. So he got the priviledge of being the leader for as long as he did not talk.

They had to clean the lower level. Unfairly, most of the mess was made by their younger counterparts, which under normal conditions would have sparked many protests from all 3 of them.

Eden and Caleb were instructed that they must follow everything that Micah did. So, basically, "Follow the Leader." If Micah was cleaning up legos, they also had to clean up legos. Etc. Micah eventually figured out some basic signs too to get them to do pick up other things...which would be necessary in moderation, but could easily be manipulated into more of his normal bossiness.

If Micah spoke, his turn was over, and it would be Eden's turn.

If Eden and/or Caleb were not following, then they would be punished (with more chores). However, if Micah verbally tattled on them, he would lose his turn as leader. I can see that this is a potential for manipulation--one follower could sit and refuse to work, forcing the leader to have to tattle or put up with no working--but isn't that just like life?

Oh, and whomever was the leader at the end of the game got 2 cookies, while everyone else got 1. Sweet.

Like I said, they will probably find some way to manipulate the rules next time and revert into their usual fighting and arguing and laziness. But for today it was excellent! :)