Saturday, July 10, 2010

School Days are Fast Approaching

Well, it is now close to the middle of July. Where has this summer gone? For that matter, what happened to the month of June? It seems like I blinked and now we are quickly approaching the start of our "official" first year of homeschooling.

Wow. This is for real. I always pictured myself being a homeschooling mom. It always seemed like the day we would start true academic work was a long way off. However, the Bugs is getting close to being four-years-old. Nearly all her friends at church and in small group are at least a year older than she is and they are all going to kindergarten this year. She isn't. She has asked and begged to go to kindergarten like all of her friends. After explaining to her that she was too young and she had two more years before they would let her start because of her age and where her birthday is, and that we were going to do school at home, she hasn't stopped asking to do school.

We did some school work type stuff back in the spring. She fell in love with some work book pages, and she has always loved being read to. Next month, we are going to be truly starting and keeping track. She isn't of legal compulsary age yet, but I still plan on keeping track of school days this year. I'm not so worried about grading her work though. Most of what we will be doing is read alouds and basic skills. Stuff that we don't move on with until it is mastered. Granted the curriculum we chose for this year is equivilent to our local public school kindergarten and first grade work, I figure that the Bugs is only going to be four, so I'm not going to put the pressure on either of us.

Beans is going to tag along for the ride. She can listen in to the stories and play with play-dough and manipulatives along with her sister. Whatever she absorbs, great, we will repeat this program with her in probably two years. She doesn't turn three until February anyway. She loves to do what her big sister does and is just as smart too.

I still can't believe that our eldest is old enough to start preschool and do school already. It seems like yesterday I got the positive pregancy test with her. And then holding her in my arms for the first time and looking into that tiny, wrinkly face and telling her that I loved her. Time flies when you blink. I wouldn't trade the last four years with her for anything. She has taught me so much.

I've Moved

That's right, I've moved to Word Press. I wasn't expecting the work to be done on my new look today, but I found out that I'm slated to be on the TOS Blog Walk next week and my absolutely terrific husband expedited it for me today before he left for work. So, if you follow this blog, you won't be getting any new posts through here after today (I intend to keep this blog so I can keep up with the blogs I follow though :). We installed Google's Friend Connect on the new blog for your convenience. Please mosey on over here. My husband redirected my web address so you don't have to learn anything new either :) The new blog is almost where I want it, there are a few things I need to finish thinking on and tweaking, but it is close and suitable for company now.

Thank you so much for following and making the move over there.

Friday, July 9, 2010

I Will be Moving

Just a head's up, we are about ready to move this blog to Word Press from Blogger. I can do more things with my blog on there and my absolutely terrific husband has been working diligently to make me a gorgeous new blog look (he finished my header last night and WOW!). I'll let you all know so you aren't left in the dust, and I will have Google Friend Connect on it along with a few other neat things (so you will have to go and refollow, I'm sorry for the inconvience). I figured since I was slated to be on the blog walk next week it should be Sunday (barring any complications with moving my posts over, when Hubbs did this to his blog, you wouldn't believe the headache). The domain name will be the same, so no need to worry about losing me that way.

Sorry for any trouble this may cause, but this move is for the good. Thanks for reading and following!

Happy Anniversary Hon

Ok, so this is a day late. I'm sorry, technical difficulties yesterday (that and well, I was a bit busy)

Happy Anniversary

I want to dedicate this blog post to my wonderful husband. Five years ago today we were married in a small, quiet (and frugal) ceremony in my home church in Illinois. Little did we know what was coming up during our first five years together. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Thank you my love, for being the man you are. Thank you for being strong for me when I need someone to lean on. Thank you for being tough on me when I need someone to call me out on something. Thank you for being such a great daddy to our two daughters. I know we hadn't planned on their arrivals to be so soon after we were married, but I'm glad we didn't wait. I can't imagine life without them. And you are so cute when you play with them. Thank you for chosing me to be your wife. I can't imagine being married to anyone else. I treasure you.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Garage Sales part 2

My last post on garage sales was about how to maximize your profits and hold a successful one. This post is going to be about being a polite garage saler. You wouldn't believe some of what happened at ours.

Please, please, please do not show up early. Even if the ad didn't state no early birds. The people holding the garage sale will be busy setting up before the stated opening time and probably don't have time to take care of customers. While I was setting up, with the sale posted to start at eight, I had people stopping and getting out of their cars to look at seven. A full hour before we were to open. And if I told them we weren't open yet, they said they were just going to look and come back later to buy. There was really no way of convincing them to leave without sounding horribly rude. But then, maybe I'm too nice.

Please, if you are taking your children with you, please keep them under your control at all times. We had a four-year-old little boy try to climb the antique gas street lamp we had for sale while his parents were looking at a pair of shoes. It was leaning against the tree. He knocked it over, and bent the top part of it where the glass fits in. I'm grateful we thought to take the glass out of it just in case. But instead of being square shaped, it is now diamond shaped. We aren't sure if we can fix it. We also had kids riding around on the ride on toys we had out and nearly took out a few other customers. So please, if you take your kids, keep them under your control. If they can't behave, either don't bring them with you, or take them to the car and leave. I have had to take my kids to the car while we have been out before. Trust me, it isn't the end of the world.

We don't smoke. None of our items smelled of smoke. Until we had customers who thought nothing of bringing a cigarette with them. Please, don't smoke around the merchandise. Yes, I realize that a garage sale isn't a high end department store, however, for the sake of being polite to those around you, please don't smoke around the items. You also don't know if someone is on oxygen at the sale, has asthma or any other health problems that would be made worse around cigarette smoke. Also, we had our kitchen window open. The smell of your cigarettes got into my house. We spent weeks getting the smell of the previous owner's smoking out of our house, we don't want to have to do it again.

I don't know why, but we had three people bring their dogs to our garage sale. Why must you bring your canine? Two of them were chihuahuas which the owners carried under their arms, the other was on a regular leash. I'm not bashing needed service animals here, however, when out, they wear a vest identifying them as such. None of these dogs had the service animal vest on. If your pet happens to bite someone, you will be held liable. I could possibly get in trouble if it happens on my private property. You also don't know if I have an animal that won't get along with yours. Also, I don't want your animal to use my front yard as a restroom. Please, just leave them at home. I honestly can't think of a reason why the family pet would enjoy bargain hunting like you do.

If you are sorting through clothing on a table, please refold items if you decide you don't want them. Same goes for leaving a book table a mess, opening packages to check that the contents are all there and leaving it open. The people holding the sale don't have time to clean up after each and every customer that visits.

Please don't insult my intelligence. Don't talk bad about items, how you wouldn't have priced something as high as I did, or say that the sale was bad. You may not have found what you were looking for, I'm sorry I didn't have it, however, your attitude will rub off on the customers that are there browsing. Feel free to try and haggle, but please, don't go complimenting me and telling me other items are priced too low and that I should raise them first. Also, don't go to your vehicle and show me the bargains you got at other sales in order to impress me. I don't care if you got that towel rack with the brass hangers for fifty cents. Yes you want that guitar, no I'm not going so low on it that it would be giving it away (yes, this did happen). Be polite and be upfront with haggling. I don't have the time to sit and listen about your other great finds, I have other customers to take care of.

One last thing. Before you go out bargain hunting for the day, make sure you have enough cash to last you. Also make sure you have smaller bills. We started out with a $30 change fund. The first five customers all had twenty dollar bills and bought about three dollars worth of merchandise. My husband had to make an emergency run for more change not barely 45 minutes after we opened for the day. We didn't want to refuse the sale, however, it was quite an inconvience. It would take no time to stop and get a lot of ones and fives and quarters. Now, if you are looking for big ticket items, then larger bills will be fine. However, breaking a twenty for a fifty cent purchase will cause some issues for the ones holding the sale later when they can't make change for a dollar.

Please, if you enjoy going garage saleing, just use some common sense. It will save both you and those you are visiting headaches later.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Garage Sales part 1

Last weekend we had a garage sale. It was a rousing success! I know a lot of people that I am friends with have been posting that, "well, we made 24 bucks today holding a garage sale" and I just cringed knowing that they might have been able to have done better. I know we um, well exceeded that amount of money in two days. I want you to be successful and make it worth your time, so I'm going to write about what we did that helped drive sales. The part two of this will be how to be a good garage sale buyer (you wouldn't believe some of the people and what they did while there....)

Ok, so you have decided to hold a garage sale. Great. How are you going to make it worth the time you will be spending on it? Here are a few suggestions:

Pick your days carefully. Around here the biggest day for sales is Friday followed by Saturday. Also, steer clear of holiday weekends. The people in our area like to go out of town for them, which will shrink potential customers. Also pick a day far enough out to give you time to gather all the items you want to sell, get it all priced and borrow any tables and racks you may need.

Have a wide variety of items. Don't just sell clothes and house hold knick knacks. Try and have items for guys too. We sold some rims, car ramps and the like. We put those out to attract the men to stop. I don't know about your area, but on Friday's a lot of the retired men drive their wives around town so they can go to sales. Make the men want to get out of the car. Most don't want to go look at the collection of embroidered hankies you have for sale.

Price things reasonably. I know you want things to get sold to get them out of the house, but don't cheat yourself. I'm also not advising to over price as then things won't sell. If it is a high end item (like a recycled tire horse swing) that is going for close to a hundred dollars on EBay at the moment, don't price it for five. We had one, and had it marked at $45 and compromised with a customer for $40. We also sold an Oscar Schmit (sorry Hubbs if I misspelled it ) that we sold for $50. Those two items were priced lower than what they were worth, but not so low that we were cheating ourselves. Everything doesn't have to be marked ten cents for it to sell. We did have a lot of fifty cent items too. People have very few issues about adding a mere fifty cents to their totals so that helped out too.

Presenting your merchandise helps to sell it. Put all your books in the same area, and separate the genres. Place all the toys in another area (on a blanket on the ground is a great place as then kids are drawn to them, same principal as impulse buy items at the grocery store). Put as many things up on tables as you can so your customers don't have to bend over to look at them. I have driven past many garage sales where people just laid everything out on blankets. I don't want to have to to bend over to sort through their goods while keeping an eye on my children. I'm sure I have missed some terrific bargains in the process, but it is worth it for me. If you can get clothing racks, use those to hang up clothes. The clothes look nicer that way, and then you don't have to keep going and refolding them after people have unfolded them looking for that special piece.

Speaking of clothes, one thing that I found that helps, is to use a straight pin and a piece of paper to price them. It takes a bit more time to price them, but then you aren't left with sticky residue on the item. I have been to garage sales where people even used duct tape to price their clothes. Um, that doesn't come off very easily. Who wants to buy a new shirt only to have it ruined by the residue from the tag? Also, especially with children's clothes, safety pin the pieces together. Attach the bloomers with the dresses, the matching shirts and pants. It will help people find the sets, and you can price the full sets a bit higher. I was at a garage sale a few weeks ago, and found the cutest pair of floral pants for the Beans. I go to pay, and the lady there was like, didn't you see the shirt that went with this? I told her I didn't realize that was a set, so she went and spent five minutes hunting her overladen table to find the matching shirt. It is a very cute outfit, however, I had no idea that it was one when I found only the pants.

Have at least twice as much change as you think you will need. Trust me. We had started the morning with thirty dollars in change. Within 45 minutes of opening, my husband had to make an emergency change run. People don't think about getting smaller bills for going out rummaging. We even had a guy ask if we could break his one hundred dollar bill. We had to decline. He did come back and purchase what he wanted later after he had broken it.

Make terrific signs. Use a full sheet of poster board. And get bright colored poster board. Signs are easy. Lay the poster board down, use stencils and contrasting colored paint (we used neon poster board and black paint) and we stenciled the words Garage Sale and the address. We then free handed the days of Friday and Saturday and the times. After the paint was dry, we did the other side. Then, the morning of the sale, my husband used packaging tape to attach them to sturdy dowl rods and put them up on the major intersections coming to our house. Then, to really draw attention, we got one of those small helium tanks and added balloons (we then put balloons out by the road in front of our house). People commented on how great the signs were. If you want them to be noticed, make them noticeable. Using the small signs from the store won't catch people's eyes.

Speaking of signs, you may also want to make and post a sign stating that you are not responsible for accidents. We have to because of city code have one visible. It can save you headaches later just in case something happens.

We put ads in the local newspaper for the day before the garage sale and the days of it. With the ad, we listed some of our bigger ticket items to draw people in. Then, the night before the garage sale, I posted an ad on Craigslist. I listed nearly all the items we had on there. I really think that helped our sales. I know I like to read the ads and plan my route by what is listed in them. And the glory of Craigslist is that you can go back and edit the post as things sell or you add new items.

Finally, have a cooler with cold soda and bottled water in it. I honestly didn't think it would sell, but my husband insisted and WOW! The two days we held our sale were HOT (that's putting it mildly). If you have cute kids who can help, have them sell it. Who can say no to a cute kid, right? We sold it for fifty cents a can or bottle. The older ladies were very appreciative of being able to buy the water. And offer it as people are checking out. It does sell.

If you have smaller kids, it may be wise to get a babysitter for the days you are holding your garage sale. I didn't, but then my husband was home for most of it before he had to go to work, and we did a joint sale with a friend so she was there for most of it too. However, a babysitter would have been nice so I wasn't worried about my kids dashing out into the street or anything (though, they were great, and I had nothing to worry about with them). If you can't get a sitter, put a DVD in for them using a portable player and have a few special things for them to do.

So, there you go. A few ideas to help you hold a garage sale. Coming soon, things I wish the customers hadn't done.