Recession Mama

{August 18, 2009}   When Life Hands You Lemons…

By Heather

 I know, I know. You’ve heard this  a million times. “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”


I’ve always thought it was a little too cutesy and slightly corny. But I re-evaluated it this weekend when my kids put up their first lemonade stand. (Every child has to have a lemonade stand in the summer. It’s just a rite of passage.)

 We made the lemonade, created signs and set up the stand in front of our house. Then we waited… and waited… and waited for customers. Finally a few strangers stopped their cars and bought some of our brew. We shut down about 45 minutes later after making enough money to buy a new toy.

“Mommy. We need to pick a better spot next time.” My son decided.

“We’re going to do it at “MoMo’s”  (restaurant) because people like to eat there.”

Five-years-old and already an entrepenuer. But really he was turning lemons into lemonade.

 I’ve heard this lemon phrase a lot since the economy turned sour. President Obama says the recession is slowing down. Maybe so. But I still think people will be waiting a long time for the sweet life to return.

This recession has also made many Americans re-evaluated their careers. As you’ve read on “Recession Mama” we’ve seen far too many of our journalist friends end up on the chopping block. Those still standing are worried they’ll be laid off next.

So what’s a true “Recession Mama” to do when facing this situation? MAKE LEMONADE. The sticky part, however, is actually making it.

Last week, I FINALLY enrolled in a program for a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interior Design. I’ve been flirting with the idea for two years. But I’ve been waiting for the right time.

I was feeling pretty great until my college transcript arrived. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication (long time ago), so I thought many of my credits would carry over. No need to worry. Right?

I handed the transcript over to my admissions advisor. There before her were all of my academic successes and failures. One semester included four “A’s” and a “D.”

“Hmmm… You’ll have to take a math entrance exam.” The advisor told me.


“You made a “D” in it the first time around. You’ll have to take it again.”


A little history here. Math and I don’t get along. I’ve always struggled with it and at some point I just tuned out. That includes college when I showed up for class and discovered we were taking a test. Much of it centered around the number of cards in a deck. I’m not proud to admit it, but I didn’t know there were 52. LEMONS!

The past has bit me in the “you-know-what.” So over the past few days I’ve been cramming years and years of math into my out-of-shape brain. I haven’t studied or taken a test in 13 years. I haven’t seen Algebra in nearly 20.  To me…  xy= “I have a headache.”

I took the test on Tuesday after two intense study sessions with a tutor and a few days of skimming the book by former “Wonder Years” actress Danica McKellar. Her New York Bestseller is titled  “Math Doesn’t Suck.” (Who knew that “Winnie” Cooper could explain math so well. But she does.) Check her out @

I do not look this good doing math



I do not look this good doing math

















Big drum roll here… I missed passing  the test by 2 points. LEMONS!!

I felt like a complete loser. My enemy, math, the victor again. But my attitude changed after eating a large, warm chocolate chip cookie and nearly slipping into sugar coma.

I thought… that’s not too bad for an old math-a-phobe. Two days of intense study on a subject that you’ve avoided your whole life. Not too shabby.

So I was short just a few points. Big deal. It is what it is. All I can do now is study.

I get one more try to take the test and I have to do it by Friday. If I pass, I will only have to take one math class, instead of three.

Obviously, I want to pass. But it’s not the end of the world if I don’t. I’ll just get a tutor, study, work hard and finally face my math demons.

Either way… I’ll end up with lemonade. (I just might add a splash of vodka every now and then)



Katy says:

Go Heather!!! I love that you’re doing something you’ve always wanted to try. And taking math on top of it! Really proud of you. It’s sooo the Recession Mama way, too! 🙂

Melanie says:

I’m really proud of you! I like the old addage “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” You can do it, sister!

umbecauseisaidso says:

Hi Heather,

Great blog post – I was just musing on that phrase myself, typed in search “lemons” and found you. I’d always resented with math until something finally clicked. One book finally got through to me, “Arco GMAT SuperCourse” (it explained how to interpret test questions among other helpful tips). Also good was Cliffs Math Review. I began saying “I can do Math!”

Good luck & keep going!

Lydia says:

You go, girl! I had to completely relearn high school algebra before I took the GRE. I, too, have deficiencies when it comes to the math brain cells….. Good luck! 🙂

Carla says:

Heather, I’m SO proud of you! You have a natural talent for interior design…and I KNOW you’re going to be very successful …I mean, your home is amazing, you throw amazing parties, you have sass! You’ll kick butt on Friday. I’m the exact same way with math. Hate it. Suck at it. Almost didn’t graduate from college because of it. BASTARD LEMON! I’m just so proud of you for going ahead with this next chapter in your life. You could’ve allowed your fear of math to have kept me from even realizing that next step, but you plowed right through it and moved to the next level in true RM form. No longer waiting for the future to shape you, you’re shaping your future. Rock on, mama….and please come decorate my house. : ) mmmmwwwwaaaa

Carla says:

(“kept YOU”….not me…wow, certainly not me…I couldn’t decorate a brown paper bag)

recessionmama says:

Thanks for the encouragement! Someday I’ll make math my “you-know-what.” Also, I’m going to check out that book.

jennifer says:

I am so proud of you for stepping out there and going back to school. You will do awesome!!! I know you will kick butt on the test Friday! If you need to do any design “homework” my house is always available for decorating : )

craig says:

always think of math in terms of money. It is so much more fun to add and multiply then to subtract and divide, unless it is in your favor.

JLulie says:

I’ve been where you are!! My last semester at Texas Wesleyan, for my MIS degree, and I had put math off until the end. I was enrolled in College Algebra and Business Calculus in the same semester, which wasn’t allowed, but since it was my final semester and all I needed to graduate, they had to let me do it. Then a week before class starts, I am told I have to take a math placement exam. WHAT?? I hadn’t seen or said “Algebra” for 20 years.. I went to the library and got TAKS books and studied the entire weekend!! I did pass on my first attempt, by 3 points!! Whew. I was on my way to walk across that stage in May. Then Calculus professor announces that you cannot take his class if you haven’t completed College Algebra within past two years. Half the class gets up and walks out. I sat there and smiled and thought only of the fact that he was the only thing between me and that stage (diploma!!!).. And I did NOT let him stop me, I got my degree that May!! You hang in there, you can do it, you are already smart enough to get the right kind of help. Next time you will beat that exam!!!!

recessionmama says:

Good for you!! Thanks for the encouragement.

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