Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lemonade Stand!

Or: Our unexpected Saturday business venture

It all began yesterday. The lemon tree in our back yard was in bad need of trimming. When we moved into our house 5 years ago, the tree was very small, and only yielded 32 lemons total (at the time, coming from snowy Indiana, we thought that was a lot!). As time went on, we trimmed it a bit every year, but by this year the tree was about four times its original size and had gotten to the point where the branches were so heavy with lemons each year, they hung to the ground. That was making it hard to pick the lemons, rake dead leaves under the tree, and even just walking around it in the yard was getting to be a bother. I'm guessing there were about 500 lemons on the tree this winter. 

Enter a sawzall. A good hour later, the tree had been trimmed considerably. As a result, we had to pick all the lemons off the branches that had been trimmed - in all, we filled six 4-gallon buckets and a large laundry basket. 

There were two more buckets that are not shown in this picture. That is in addition to about ten buckets of lemons I picked off the tree last month when we had a frost scare.

This cleared up a lot of room under/behind the tree. The kids came up with the idea of making lemonade and selling it at the park, and using the proceeds to buy the materials to build a playhouse in the shade of the lemon tree. Later, they thought maybe they'd like to buy a zoo membership instead, something we haven't had in a while. I thought it was a nice idea, just not something I was planning on doing the next day, or really any day for that matter. The picked lemons keep for weeks if kept cool, and I figured I would just juice them over time and freeze the juice in quart jars until we were ready to use them (which, quite possibly, was never).

Then today, on our way home from an errand, we saw a really cool antique car driving down the road. None of us had ever seen anything like it before, so we kind of followed it just to admire it longer. Lo and behold, it turned into a park near our house, where there were hundreds of old cars on display. My first thought was "Wow, I should take all the kids here to the car show!", soon followed by "Hm, would this be a good place for them to set up their lemonade stand?" 

To be honest, going home and juicing lemons, making lemonade, painting a sign, and packing all six kids up to sell lemonade at the park did NOT sound appealing at all. Especially because I would first need to buy sugar, ice, and disposable cups. But I knew this opportunity was too good to pass up.

The boys all helped by washing, cutting, and juicing the lemons. I made the lemonade while the boys painted the sign. Anna thankfully was asleep for most of this, so we were able to go fast and were all ready and set up at the park shortly after noon. 

We thought it would be best not to charge anything for the lemonade, but rather to only take donations if anyone felt they wanted to pay for it. About half-way through the afternoon, my husband (who had to work all day) stopped by to bring us all some lunch, and took Miriam and Becky home with him so they could nap while he was doing office work from home. 

The results?

In all, we gave out about 150 cups total (approx. 6 gallons) over the course of 5 hours. About half of the people who got lemonade gave the kids a donation. The total? 

$ 45.12

Not bad, huh??!? The cost for sugar, cups, and ice was $15, so we made a total profit of $30. Only nine more Saturdays like this, and we will have enough to buy the playhouse! Although I really don't think I could handle doing that!

There were other benefits to doing this: 

(1) People were loving the ice-cold, fresh, homemade lemonade on this sunny day. At one point, a large group from a nursing home for the mentally disabled (about 25 to 30 people) stopped by and all got cups of lemonade. Can you imagine how thrilled and grateful they were? It was such a joy to see them so happy.

(2) It was a great learning opportunity for the kids. Some of the things they learned were:

  • how hard it is to earn money, and to make a profit in real life business.
  • using the resources they already had to earn something they wanted
  • food safety 
  • manners - I was a little surprised by the amount of children who walked up to ask for lemonade without using the word "please", and upon being handed a cup took it without saying a word, much less "thank you", walked away, and then threw the cup in the grass after finishing the lemonade. I am not talking about toddlers, either, but rather older children and young teens. I think it really demonstrated to our kids that there is a reason why we teach them to say "please" and "thank you".
  • If you want something, work for and earn it yourself - don't expect others to give it to you. The world does NOT owe you anything.
I won't lie - it would have been a lot easier and faster for my husband or myself to make that amount of money in a lot less time, and buy the kids that playhouse, or zoo membership, or whatever. But I think it is a great learning experience, and a fun memory. 

For now, I just have a splitting headache, and can't wait to get the kids in bed for the night! If I can just find the time and energy to keep helping them until they reach their goal... wish me luck! 


  1. You are SUCH a great mom! I continue to be inspired by you!

  2. You're such a good mom!!! :) Your kids are going to have the best memories of things like this when they grow up. I hope I can be half as fun as you are when my children are older.

  3. super fun and super cute! Looks to me like they had a blast! hopefully your headache will dissapear soon too:)

  4. That is awesome! What a great thing to do!

    I can hardly believe you get that many lemons from a tree. I'm rather jealous. Too cold in my neck of the woods to grow citrus.

  5. How fun! You're such a good mother... :) I wanted to do stuff like that when I was their age, but we didn't (and still don't) have a lemon tree (and citrus is really expensive, even in the south), it is way too hot whenever we have time, and we don't live in a heavily populated area. :( Hoping that your headache toes away soon! ('s Sunday now, so... :D)

  6. What a great idea! I agree that your children will hold that treasured memory for a long time!

    I wish we could have tasted some of your lovely lemonade! Great job to all your hardwoking team!

  7. Oh, I have been there. Moments like these take a few weeks before they become "good memories." In the end, I agree it will be worth it.

    I know this was spur of the moment, but if you are crazy enough to do it again (:-)) Maybe your children could pass out tracts with the drinks.

    One more thought - sometimes, we meet our children halfway. If "they" raise half we pay the other half. That's cheating, I know, but it sure helps the headache.

  8. That sounds like so much fun!!! I am hoping to do a lemonade stand with my kids while we do our garage sale. I don't have a lemon tree so ours won't be fresh. That sounds so tasty though.

  9. That is a lot of lemons!! How exciting for the kids to share lemonade with others!

    Did you cut Miriam's hair?? Maybe just the angle of the picture.

  10. That is so awesome.

    I'm always worried about my kids setting up a cookie or lemonade stand--we have a festival that would be perfect. But I fear my state would rush in with tanks to shut them down--health violation!

  11. Amazing--children still do this? ;)

    Next thing you know one of the boys will be mowing a lawn or raking leaves! ;) Maybe even Miriam babysitting--oh the humanity! ;)

  12. amazing
    i do have a question but i am not sure where to ask it.
    I am a christian, follower of Jesus Christ. I have been married to my husband now for almost two years. have a 4 year old who will start pre school soon. I am pursuing a career in law enforcement. My husband supports my decision but was recently told by a fellow "christian" that my career is not one a woman should be involved in. What am I to do? i have prayed about it and I believe God would want me to make a difference in the world & in the lives i come in contact with

  13. cute pics, especially the third one.
    also, have you heard of the soldiers in afganistan who killed those civilians and posed with the dead bodies? A german newspaper claims they have obtained 4,000 pictures of dead civilians with us soldiers.,1518,752310,00.html

    check out drudge report for more news on it.

  14. I used to love having Kool-Aid stands when I was a kid; very fond memories. Last summer, my girls and I put up a stand with donations only, but we donated all the proceeds to a foundation that helps children with cancer. It was a great way to teach them to help others.

    I wish we had a lemon tree like yours. It is wonderful that you didn't have your kids charge people for a fresh cold drink on a hot day, but they earned a lot of $$ anyway! I'm sure they will enjoy whatever item they purchase with their hard-earned money.

    And castiron....I would worry more about the government trying to tax my cookie stand earnings than health code violations, LOL!

  15. I wish I could have had some! I am thinking of planting a lime tree. My Grandma has a Thai lime tree. They're huge!

    We usually make limeade down here. I love lemonade though, especially homemade.

    I love all your pictures. :)

  16. (Don't feel you need to publish this on your children's lemonade post, it's just a question I have that may make a good post for a 'Q and A.')

    A friend of mine and I were discussing the following question and were curious what you and Pastor Anderson thought in regards to it.

    (I give here my "I know you're very busy with the 'sweetheart six' and don't demand an answer at anytime, frankly." comment.)

    Do you and your husband feel that a man who isn't married and doesn't have children has the ability to be an effective pastor to their flock? I don't mean a single man that gives a sermon, but a pastor that leads a Church. I know that many of us, myself included, have looked to our pastor as a spiritual rock and a giver of Biblical advice through various times of joy as well as tribulations--pre-marriage counseling, marriage counseling, advice regarding children and teenagers, building a Godly home, even small things involving marriage and family.
    I'd love to hear your opinion as well as your husband's! May God be with you,

    Mindy (again!)

  17. Do you still have millions of lemons? I came across this recipe on another blog, and I thought of your laundry baskets of lemons!
    It's for a lemon pie, made with whole lemons!


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