Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Winner- Finally. GAH.

Ok, so it only took me a WEEK to get around to posting my contest winner, and I am feeling very very lame. *SIGH* *ANOTHER, LOUDER, SIGH*

But I am sitting here typing this on my NEW! SOFA! Do you have any idea how long I've wanted a new sofa? Do you understand how UGLY our other sofa was/IS (yes, IS, because right now it is sitting in our dining room, making me weep every time I see it, because a) I'm so happy that we've replaced it but also b) why oh WHY is it still in my house?) I think pictures are going to be in order to fully illustrate what type of couch we are dealing with here. Doesn't Kelly Rippa or someone do an ugly sofa contest? Hmmm, maybe it would be worth saving, if only to enter into her contest.... No. NO! It must go! TAKE IT AWAY! (Also, did I just say "Kelly Rippa"? WTH?)

But this new sofa? The one I am currently sitting on? I bought it with my garage sale money. The other (smaller sofa) and the four tables were purchased by my good looks and the wonderful folks over at IKEA credit card services, but this one was paid for in cold hard CASH, that I earned selling kids' clothes and toys for 2 days at around 50 cents apiece.

So now it's (WAY PAST) time to announce the contest winner, and also the Garage Sale Total. Ok, first, our lucky winner in Greenstyle Mom- congratulations! I'll be sending you an email sometime in the next 6 months to get your address and mail your prize. (Also, OH CRAP. Now I have to send something renewable, sustainable, organic... oh the PRESSURE.) Ahem, I mean, I was totally going to give an organic prize, nothing new to see over here...

(On a more serious note, I take inspiration all the time from Greenstyle Mom's passion to treating our planet gently. The above paragraph? That was just my guilty conscious talking...)

Let's segue directly into GST. Are you ready? I made $659.25! The other two families each made around $500! On baby clothes and other crap!

Seriously, I had only a few bigger items. My most expensive piece was my double stroller, which sold for $40. I had probably about $100 total in my "bigger ticket" items, and the rest, I'm not even kidding, was all little stuff. Dollar items. Twenty five cent toys. Also, I made over $500 the first day, and only about $100 the second day.

Does this just blow your mind? Because I've never had a garage sale before, so I had NO IDEA that I would make that much. David was giving me such a hard time before the sale. He was joking about buying all the crap from me, just to be DONE with it. (Um, honey, we still need to DO something will all this crap. It's not going to walk itself out of the attic...) Needless to say, he's now a garage sale convert, sheepishly so.

The weather was beautiful- 70's, sunny- so we didn't know for sure if this would help or hurt us. Also, as I said, our sale was during the weekend of the "city wide" (ha, ha, they called this town a "city"!!) sales, so again we weren't sure if it would be good or bad for us.

Here's a few things, looking back, that I think I'd try to re-create:

1. City wide sale weekends are good times to have sales. There are lots of people out, and the "crowd mentality" certainly makes people more impulsive. People were making piles on the lawn, buying so much stuff at one time that they couldn't carry it all. I was stunned.

1a. Also, have lots of plastic bags (the Target/Walmart variety) on hand. LOTS. We ran out and had to have a friend bring us her stash.

1b. My Garage Sale Mentor had a round hanging rack, just like in stores, that she some how owns. We hung our cuter/more expensive outfits there, and refilled it often, whenever we had a lull. Things hanging on that rack really sold quickly.

2. We were one of the only sales to open Friday morning. Most opened Friday around 4 pm, or not until Saturday morning, so we had lots of eager people right away in the morning. I got there 45 minutes early, and there was already at least 20 (as in TWENTY actual humans, not including children) rummaging through our stuff. We didn't even have the tables pulled out of the garage yet. We hit the ground running, and it was busy like that most of the day.

3. Saturday was very s-l-o-w. We each only made around $100, so compared to the previous day, it seemed lame. Then again, everything was already all set up, and all we had to do was sit there and chat, so I guess it was worth $100.

4. We had a few misc things that were priced 10 cents. That made adding totals and making change a pain, especially when things were crazy busy. In the future, I will not price anything less than 25 cents.

5. I did the sale with two other families, and the next door neighbor was also having a sale. She put an ad in the paper for both of our addresses. I wasn't sure it was worth the money before the sale, but after earning over $600 I think I'd surely cough up the cash for an ad in the future. (In this case, it was free for us, since the neighbor was returning a favor. BONUS!) Between the three of us we had SO MUCH stuff, and that looks quite appealing to people passing by. Also, it really was fun to do it with other people- I would have been bored by myself.

6. It really helps if you have tons of kids clothes/baby items/toys. These are the things people are looking to buy. I did sell quite a lot of my household items as well, but it was the kids' stuff that lured the buyers to the sale. Adult clothing/shoes do not sell well, so only bother with the best quality- the rest can go directly in the donation pile. (I would also recommend having parents/grandparents with a shopping addiction. I personally have purchased approximately ZERO dollars worth of clothing/toys for our kids. My mom buys them SO MUCH stuff- clothes AND toys. Not to mention all of the other stuff they receive from other people... I suspect/hope I'm not the only one in this situation. It feels so good to get rid of our unused items, and to know they are being used by others.)

So to summarize: garage sales= worth it, even though it is a pain in the ass to set up and organize. The stuff has to go SOMEWHERE, so even to donate it you'd have to sort, box, and haul it SOME PLACE. Pricing the items took a little additional time, but was worth-monetarily speaking- it in the end.

(Did this really just take me ALL DAY to write?!)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Contest High

Boy, weren't those contests SO FUN over at Swistle's place? I had considered doing a "guess which picture is me contest", but so many of my readers either a) know me in real life or b) are my Facebook friends, and therefore have seen my picture already.

BUT. I have another idea: let's have a contest to see who can guess how much I made at the garage sale this weekend.

The sale was all day Friday and Saturday morning. It was Tiny Town's "city wide" garage sales, and the weather was beautiful. But this also means there were lots of other people selling things, and lots of people enjoying the weather. I didn't have many big things, mostly kid's clothes and smaller household items. I made more than $100 and less than $1000.

The person to guess closest to my total for BOTH days, without going over, will receive a care package from me. I'm not sure what will be in the care package, but it will probably include a copy of whatever book I'm currently reading and something baked. I might add a few of my garage sale items that didn't sell. I'm not sure yet.

The contest will end on Wednesday (May 21st) at noon, my time- CDT. I will email the winner for mailing information.

If you've spoken to me about the garage sale, you are not qualified to participate. Sorry.

Ok? Go!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Greetings From Garage Sale Central; Also, Marie Green: UNVEILED!

So, I put everything off until the last minute (standard mode of operations around here, true), but honestly I was really dreading going through all of that stuff, pricing it, etc. All for what? Twenty eight dollars in small bills and quarters?

However! I feel so much lighter EVERY time I carry another load of stuff out to the van (and by this I mean whenever DAVID carries another load out to the van, because I am the Stickering Goddess and he is the Loading Lord). It simply is exhilarating to get rid of stuff. And the fact that every item has the potential of bringing in a little cash, well, that's fun too.

The sale will be at my friend, and Garage Sale Mentor's, house on Friday and Saturday. And if you've never had a sale of your very own, I'd highly recommend finding a GSM. I am learning so much! Like, hanging cuter outfits makes them easier to see/buy! And a tall ladder suspended sideways from the rafters makes a great hanging rack! And a plastic wading pool is a great place to toss all the toys for sale! [This may all sound like common sense, but when you are sitting, surrounded by piles and piles of crap, it's hard to have perspective.]

As for my pricing... heh, heh, heh. It's a bit, well, I guess the word is random. So if anyone calls me on it, I'm going to blame it on my ski accident slash head injury circa 1996. Ahem.

My aunt is taking all three girls overnight and all day tomorrow, and I'm so giddy at the thought of no children that I'm almost forgetting I have a 24 hour date with my attic and GSM's garage.

Now, how about some Mother's Day Pictures, yes?

These are my gifts: a Fiestaware picture in Peacock (twitter), my favorite bottle of wine, and a new bistro table and chairs for the patio. It was all perfectly selected.

Here's Marin, with the adorable red table I scored at a garage sale last week. Tea, anyone? (This has nothing to do with Mday, other than the photo was taken on Mother's Day, with the added advantage of showcasing the red table.)

Dear Hayden, I wuv you. *MUAH* (Also, *SMACK*) Wuv, Marin.

(Also taken on Mday... and showcasing the child that has the amazing ability to make my heart go pitter patter AND make my head explode, all while looking adorable with very little hair.)

And now.... DRUM ROLL PLEASE...

This is me, with the little ladies who made me a mama.

My Mother's Day was perfectly lovely, btw. I had breakfast in bed (a bowl of grape nuts and a jug of milk, delivered by the children), the sun was streaming in the windows while I read in bed, I got to go shopping, and the girls brought be reeking fistfuls of dandelions all. day. long.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Story Time, Tiny Town Style

There's lots of reason why living here makes me CRAZY (read: no Target). Recently, I had the extreme need for some "retail therapy" and what do you suppose I was able to buy for myself? A People magazine (brain candy!) and fresh flowers. BECAUSE THERE IS NOTHING TO BUY HERE.

But hey! Here's one reason why I love Tiny Town: Story Time.

Our library is tiny, and has basically NOTHING in it to, you know, read, but it DOES have Story Time. And here's how Story Time rolls: I drop the kids off. They do not need to be signed up first. I do not have to stay on the premises. No one asks me for contact information or consent forms or permission slips or jackshit. I am not nervous leaving my kids there, because if there was a problem, my husband's office is just down the street, and the librarians know him and me and would easily track one of us down.

(I then have 45 minutes to myself, which is, in a town this size, PLENTY of time to get all my groceries, or run a bunch of errands, or meet someone for coffee, and still be back in time for pick-up.)

Recently, a little girl I know was wandering the stacks holding the librarian's hand looking for her mommy. Another mom stepped forward and said "Oh, Carmen, I just talked to your mom, and you are coming with me today." The librarian smiled and released Carmen into the other mom's care. No written permission, no talking in person to the mom, etc.

I love this not because I'm reckless, but because in Tiny Town it really is a safe way to operate. The librarians know the families, the moms all know each other, and we rely on good old fashioned TRUST.

Trust in is short supply these days (for good reason, I know), but I'm happy to live in a town where things can be simple and wholesome and red-tape free. I understand there a very few places where this is true (again, for good reason), and it makes Tiny Town feel home-y and kind and idyllic.

Yesterday, when I picked up the girls from Story Time, I also picked up my friend's 2 boys. This was a last minute arrangement. The other moms were laughing at me, wrangling 5 kids under age 5 through the check-out process. The boys didn't have the card with them, and neither did we, but the librarain looked up our cards and checked out our stuff, all without asking me a single question about how to spell my name or the boys' name. One of the other moms watched Marin for me while I helped the older kids choose a movie. Another mom followed me to the door and held it open for all of us to pass through, and then did the same with my car doors. The librarians said goodbye to the kids by name, and never questioned me taking the boys.

This really is a lovely way to raise kids, and it makes me sad to think of how few places this exists anymore. Trust and neighbors and community are so important- and until recently these were the norms of towns all across our country. I wonder how long it will be before our library has to be more strict on their policies re: Story Time. For now, I'm enjoying the simplicity of Tiny Town living.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Good Day

Part 1: After we got David and the older girls out the door this morning, Marin and I went for a long walk. It was spring-ish and sunny and bird-chirpy. Marin fell asleep in the stroller, and when we got home I pushed the whole stroller into the family room and took a long shower in peace.

Part 2: When Marin and I went to pick up the other girls from preschool, a friend asked me if we wanted to go to McDonald's with them for lunch. While there we ran into two other preschool moms, and we had a great visit while the kids played in the McDonald's arcade style playroom.

Part 3: After lunch, we offered to have a couple of the little girls over to play. One of the moms stayed and chatted with me for an hour or so before leaving. Later, when the other mom came to pick up her daughter, she stayed to chat... until it was suppertime.

Part 4: We decided to make supper together, so she ran home to get a few things to throw in the pot. Our husbands arrived from work and played outside with the kids while we cooked. We fed the kids first, and then had an uninterrupted adult meal. (Feeding the kids first is LIFE CHANGING.)

Part 5: They stayed until bedtime- all of us outside together, celebrating the sheer wonder that warm weather has on the previously-cooped-up human body slash spirit. The kids took turns flying to the clouds in our tree swing that hangs from an impossibly high branch. (I'm not sure if my current [nonexistent] photography skills can truly capture how kick-assingly {not a real word} HIGH this swing goes. Someday I will try to post of picture of it...)

Part 6: The kids were tired and dirty and fell asleep quickly. And then I had time to blog.

The end.

Oh, but wait! I have to tell you: I talked to the principal (FINALLY) about the girls classroom placement next year. I'm glad I talked to her on the phone because I was a stomach cramping, mouth breathing, foot twitching MESS over this "confrontation" (though it wasn't at all confrontational or anything... But STILL! I suppose my elementary teachers should be credited for conditioning me to have the Fear of Satan of any/all principals. Gah!) She didn't agree with any of my reasoning, but it boils down to her respecting my request. Therefore, they will be placed in the same classroom next year. Thank you so much for all your kind words and encouragement. I especially loved hearing that many of you had twins together in class and that they didn't (at least not that you mentioned) turn into adults surgically joined at the breastbone or anything.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Kindergarten [Edited to add photos]

Look, I don't think they would fall apart if they were in separate rooms. I think there would be a rough adjustment time, and then they would be FINE. That's not why I want them together.

Also, I am aware of the potential problems of keeping them together- the biggest one being that they will compete with each other- for friends, academics, even the teacher's attention. I've talked with their preschool teacher at length about this, and she believes that being together will not be a distraction or inhibit their learning any more than the normal distractions you find in classroom dynamics.

I think that starting a new chapter in life, and being away from home (all day, every day) will be a wonderful and stressful life change for them, and I want them to be able to lean on each other through it.

Also, I want to send them the [nonverbal] message that their bond is good, that what they have is wonderful and beautiful. I do NOT want to send the [nonverbal] message that being together is bad, that they must be separated because they need each other too much.

If you want to raise my hackles, then you will tell me that "we don't do that" when I request for them to be together. Have you raised twins? Are you a twin yourself? Is there a twin expert on the school board that is making this recommendation based on a professional/expert opinion?

No? Then please recognize that no one completely understands the twin bond, just like no one can really understand how someone else's marriage works. Therefore, I believe that my husband and I are best equipped to make big decisions for our children, and our heart and gut and brains are saying that it is best for them to be together.

I'm sorry I cannot follow conventional wisdom on this one- it really does pain me to have to make an appointment to talk to you about this. I wish you knew me first- to know that I am a rational and normal person, that I'm a relaxed and easy-going mother, that we are not going to be one of "those" families who is a constant pain in your side. Normally, we fly under the radar, doing the right thing and not drawing attention to ourselves.

I wish you knew how shocked we were to discover we were having twins, how hard those first years were. I wish I could explain to you how difficult it was for me to divide myself between two newborns, how much of their lives they've had to share my time, attention, and affection. They may not have had my undivided attention, not even on the day they were born, but the flip side is that they've always had each other. I could make a lengthy pros and cons list of being a twin...

If you knew us better, maybe then you would help us celebrate the bond that they have. Perhaps you would agree that being together for kindergarten is one of the PERKS of being a twin- one of the advantages to offset some of the disadvantages. For now, I'm just hoping you'll trust my judgement on this one.