Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Official!!!

Not that I was thinking anything different, but I'm officially carrying our second bundle of joy! My due date was confirmed to be January 10, 2010 at the doctor's office this morning. Most likely, I will have a planned c-section earlier than that (It doesn't appear as though I will be a good VBAC candidate).

I had such a great appointment with the nurse. She was reassuring and encouraging. I had some pretty awful experiences with a previous doctor's office and was treated rather poorly. She was shocked at my experience, but not surprised as that office has that kind of history.

I feel much better about the communication and treatment I will receive during this pregnancy. They treat the whole person, not just the belly. They do emotional and stress surveys periodically to jump on any early signs of PPD. I'm just so happy! I will also be sent right to a cardiologist if I have any of the heart problems that I had with Isabelle's pregnancy. My other office refused to refer me, despite my discomfort and pleadings. But, we are praying that this pregnancy will go smoothly without any of those issues.

I'm already feeling so different than I did with Isabelle (so people are saying it must be a boy!). -I have only thrown up once vs. throwing up morning and night for 18 weeks with Izzy.
-I have had no aversions vs. I could not eat anything with red sauce or cereal with milk.
-I am more tired than anything
-This was planned so I'm more happy vs. unplanned pregnancy=a lot of tears with Izzy

We'll see what happens, but other than being tired and a belly seemingly to already be poking through my shirts- I'm feeling great. I love not being so sick! I will not complain of a little nauseousness- at least too much.

I'm just glad its official now. I have my first appointment with my fantastic doctor July 2nd where we will get to hear the heartbeat- ahhh!!! I can't wait!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

This past week...

I have never been so tired in my life. Part of it I'm sure is the pregnancy. It seems as though I have traded terrible morning sickness for extreme fatigue- I won't complain (too much!).

But it also has been quite the week on the home and business front.

Monday- I had a cavity filled in the morning followed by a day of cleaning the parade model.
Tuesday- I watched a friend's daughter in the morning followed by an afternoon of staging the parade model.
Wednesday- Our 4th anniversary! Spent the morning cleaning and staging the rest of the condo so we could enjoy a date night that evening.
Thursday- Guess where I was this morning? The parade model! You got it. Last minute touch ups and clean ups. Little additions to the staging. Finding grout on more trim to clean up. Keeping Izzy from destorying the staged nursery and touching the glass banister. I was past drained by this point. I was running on empty fumes. But, we were out of milk, so I headed to the grocery store. Now I was really done, so, I rested and napped in the afternoon.
Friday- With parade starting there were some last minute errands and touch ups. But, Izzy and I were able to hit the library with fresh books and videos for our long hours at home together. Sick as a dog for the first time during this pregnancy after supper.

Ahh....

It was quite the week- I feel as though I lived like 2 or 3 weeks. But, the parade model is done and looks fantastic. Brian (my brother in law and the builder) did a great job with some awesome upgrades and special touches.

If you live in the West Michigan area check us out. We're #7 on the parade of homes route.

Now for the long couple of weeks of the actual parade. Hours basically ever other day from 1-9pm. Long days and evenings- but hopefully it will be worth it for the word of mouth and branding.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Celebrating...







4 years with my hunka hunka burnin' love.....
Ah, life is good! 4 years ago today I married the man of my dreams and finally ended the 5 year courtship that was spent 4 years a state apart. The weather was perfect that day. Everything (minus a last minute tux delivery and a needle prick resulting in a nasty blood blister) went perfectly. Surrounded by family and friends we pledged our love for one another. It was one of the best days of my life- I was so happy I bounced.
The last four years haven't been the easiest, or the worst. We have had our ups and downs- but our highs are getting higher and our passion grows as we learn to live with one another- and with the unexpected blessings (like little Izzy) God sends our way.
Happy Anniversary my love. I can't wait to see what God sends us next, because I know we will be facing it together!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Garage Sale Bible pt.2- Selling

I'm off to hit some (hopefully) great sales this morning- so I thought continuing my post on The Garage Sale Bible would be appropriate. This time- its for sellers. I've only actually done a few sales myself, but from those experiences, and from my experience as a life long shopper- here is what I look for in great sellers:
  1. Price everything clearly. Don't just put signs up that say "make an offer"- it puts both buyer and seller in an akward situation. Put prices or a pricing system on everything. Its annoying to have to ask how much each item is. It puts pressure of buyers and makes your accounting much more simple!
  2. Don't sell crap. I know this is somewhat ambigious and subjective- but there are a lot of sellers out there who think it is perfectly ok to try and sell their stained and ripped clothing, broken vases, and toys without key parts. Don't sell anything you wouldn't put your kids in. Don't try and sell something that is grossly stained. (I'm talking like those nasty formula stains on the front of jammies and those blow out stains from you know what). Put them in a free box, donate them, or turn them into cleaning rags around the house. As a buyer, if I see a stack of stained, rippped clothing- I'm not going to look much further. You may have great stuff- but once I see you trying to sell me that stuff, I will be less motivated to look further. Don't try to sell me a Dora book that requires the special pen, but you misplaced it- or the Thomas book that was magnetic and is missing all of the magnets (especially for more than 25 cents!).
  3. Remember your stuff is worth more to you than it is to someone else. I know that cute frilly dress was a memory for you of when Jane giggled for the first time at her Grandpa, or the throw pillows that came all the way from your Great Aunt Ruth all the way from Alaska mean so much to you. But, I don't really care. I'm not going to pay anymore for it because it meant something to you. Price stuff at a fair market (garage sale market, not retail!) value, intrinsic value aside. Having a friend, who is distant from the memories each of your items hold, help price items can be helpful.
  4. Be willing to wheel and deal- or put a sign up that says otherwise. 98% of the sellers I come into contact with are willing to put together a package deal for lots of items or are willing to be flexible on some of their pricing. If you are staunch on pricing- put up a sign that says "Pricing firm". But, you will get more sales if you are willing to work with buyers. I'm not saying you have to take a bath- but a lot of the time, its just a buck or two- or just to get to a nice round number so you don't have to worry about change. (I had a lady yesterday who nearly had a heart attack when I offered her $7 instead of $7.25 for the pile of clothes I had...I would have paid the $7.25, but I was just trying to make our lives easier by not having to worry about change! This my friends was a fair barter, not unreasonable, and you as a seller should just take it!)
  5. Organize! Keep your sale clean and organized for easy shopping. When you go into a department store- clothes are nicely folded or hung in size order- do the same. If there is an outfit- pin or tape together all the pieces so they don't get lost in the shuffle. Label your tables and racks for easier shopping. Don't pile books- keep them in a box or crate for easy flip through. Think of your garage and yard like a mini store and organize it as such. Make sure you as the seller are easy to find- with a cashier station easy to locate as well.
  6. Have change available- think small bills and quarters. Chances are, inexperienced buyers are going to come along with a $20 for a $1 purchase. You must be prepared to make change.
  7. Forgoe the 10 cent box. Maybe have a quarter box for little trinkets- but for those old mcdonald toys that you are just trying to get rid of - I promise you- you will get rid of them faster and make a harried mom with a whiny child very happy and pleased if you just put a free box out there! (plus, if you are willing to give my daughter that little trinket for free- i'm much more likely to buy something from you)
  8. Greet your shoppers, small talk is ok. In fact, silence is rather akward. But, don't try to oversell your items. Let the buyers ask questions first about the items before offering your two cents of what a wonderful product it is and how you don't know how you can live without it. (think about that- especially for household things- if you are selling it- chances are you didn't like it enough to keep!)
  9. Have batteries in toys or batteries available to test toys. Have an electrical outlet to for buyers to test electronic items. I'm not going to buy it if I don't know if it works or not!
  10. Clearly label your sale at major street corners and then at every turn leading to your sale with the same color/design sign so buyers can easily find you.
  11. Advertising. Want to get the most traffic to your sale? First, advertise on Craigslist (free online classfied website and basically one of the best inventions since the computer itself). If you have a lot of big ticket items and feel as though your sale may be hard to find, go ahead and advertise in a small, local paper (for you GR area people- the advance). There is a fee- but can be a good source for buyers. Finally, if you live near a larger development, find out when their neighborhood sale is and do it at the same time, but open an hour earlier! You will be much more likely to get high traffic if you coordinate sales- people like one stop shopping!
  12. Pricing. Its subjective, I know. But, do some research before pricing your items. Shop around at other sales. See how much things run retail and clearance and price accordingly (aka, not any higher than a clearance price for brand new items). You will not recup your cost for the items. Kids clothing and toys are not an investment- don't expect to get a return on them. I know some of you paid a boatload for the entire Gymboree collection. If you really want to get your money's worth- sell it on ebay or something like that where other gymboree collectors and lovers will pay top buck for it. Yeah, as a buyer I would maybe pay a little more for a name brand (simply because you can tell the quality is high sometimes), but I'm not going to pay a ton more. For example- I won't pay $12 for the gymboree dress, i just won't. Especially if there is a more generic brand dress hanging there for just $4. Garage sale buyers are out for good deals on gently used items. If you want to sell collectors items for top dollar- this is not the avenue for you.
  13. Have fun! Enjoy your day. If you aren't- it shows. I don't like shopping at a sale where I feel like I'm inconviencing the seller. It was your choice to have a sale- be prepared for weather, bordeom, hunger, etc. Bring a friend. Find somewhere for the kids to go for the day.

Any other suggestions out there for buyers?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

I hope all the mom's out there were blessed by their day. I was gifted with my husband not working! (I've decided I hate Sunday open houses sometimes!) It was nice to relax as a family, go to church, and enjoy a nice meal with his parents and grandparents.


Oh, and if you haven't heard....I have another reason to celebrate mother's day...



Introducing Baby Spica- estimated to arrive sometime early January. No, this isn't actually a picture of our little one, but a representation. Our bundle of joy is now the size of a pea and has a beating heart!

Needless to say, we are thrilled with our newest addition to our family. Izzy is pretty excited- her first question was if there was going to be a party (she loves parties!). She also has declared she wants a baby sister named brother.

Life is good. God is Great.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Garage Sale Bible part 1

I should really write a Garage sale Bible. There are people who need help with this! I am an avid garage saler, bargain finder, thrift store maniac...whatever you want to call it. I've even been name Queen of the garage sales by my Grandma Spica, which if you knew her, would know that is a huge compliment :)

I was so geeked as garage sale season began- rather early I might add. There is nothing like a crisp spring/summer morning with a stroller, cash, and water bottle. I love finding good deals (like the 80 piece wooden train set for $4!).

I'm noticing a great change in garage sales which I believe is attributed a lot to the current economic conditions (but don't get me on that soap box!) People who have never been garage saling are now shopping and don't know traffic, pricing, and shopping etiquette. People who have never been garage saling are also now trying to sell there stuff at their own sale. This has caused for a domino effect of problems. I wish I could solve them.

But, I can, and I will offer some tidbits, helpful hints, and suggestions to the newbie, wannabe, never really understood it garage salers out there. This may come in a few part series as nap time is slipping away and, well I haven't had my nap yet!

So, for part 1: How to be a Successful, Courteous Garage Sale Shopper
  1. Plan, Plan, Plan: Look in the papers (small local ones you get free on your doorstep are great sources), Craigslist, and even on subdivision websites to see when each sale is. Map it out if you have to.
  2. Lower your expectations. You never know what you are going to find. Other peoples treasure can be your junk, other people's junk can be your treasure. Don't think you are going to always find the best selection, the most up to date, the most modern looking things out there. Sometimes you will :) Sometimes you find a house that has been cleared of all bathroom decor circa 1975.
  3. Bring Cash- in small bills. Unless you buy a huge ticket item ($50+), most sellers will not (and should not) accept checks. Bring small bills as many sellers may not have correct change. Having exact amount in small bills may help you negotiations (don't talk down a price from $15 to $10 to only pull out a $20, its kinda rude).
  4. Bring Snacks. You'll get hungry and want to splurge on the 50 cent cookie the little toddlers are selling (which isn't always bad) or get thirsty and be forced to buy a water bottle off of a smart business woman at $2.
  5. Bring a map or GPS of a subdivision. Its amazing how dizzying cauldesacs can be- its easy to get lost.
  6. Do not block driveways, trash cans, mailboxes, or fire hydrants when parking.
  7. Do not actually park in the driveway of the garage sale, unless that is the only option, park along side the road.
  8. Drive SLOWLY!!! Especially when in subdivision sales. Moms, toddlers, kids on bikes, teens on roller blades are everywhere. Just take it slow, and don't stare at the sales, focus on driving and park to look.
  9. Don't feel as though you have to stop at every sale. It's ok to not go in each garage. Use your time wisely!
  10. Park on the correct side of the road and use common courtesy. Often in subdivision sales, the road that used to be a tight two lane road now has cars parked on both sides and is barely a one way street. Take turns. Use the "holes" around driveways to scootch in to allow other people to pass, but don't park there.
  11. Barter, within reason. A good seller will allow you to make a reasonable offer, especially if you buy more items. This is not some Mexican flea market, so don't drop the price in half, we're talking a few bucks here and there. Remember that even though they are selling this stuff, the sellers have more 'value' in their items than you do, don't offend them by skimping their prices. A good rule of thumb? Furniture- $5-10 less than asking, children's toys- $1 less than asking, clothing- when buying in bulk take the total amount and then subtract $2-5 off. I usually shoot for a nice round number. Say my total bill amounted to 12.75. I see if they will take $10. Sometimes they will, sometimes they won't. You have to be prepared with how high you are willing to go to buy the item to make a quick decision.
  12. Know your sizes. Know your products. Know your brands. There is no trying clothes on- so its a risk, but it can be worth it! Sometimes people try to sell products with missing components. Know the product enough to know if something is missing (puzzle pieces, blocks, hinges, etc.) Brand names can be important. I will usually play slightly more for a good brand name than I will otherwise. In kids clothes I will pay more for Gap, Gymboree, Children's Place than I will for Circo (target brand) or Kiks (meijer brand). You should have an general idea of what items go for in store: retail and clearance price. Do not pay more than what the item would have been on a clearance rack. (example: A dress from Children's place may have retailed for $20-25, then eventually clearanced to $5-10. I would pay no more than $5 for the dress in great condition, less than that if there are signs of wear.
  13. If shopping with kids- be prepared. Bring a snack or two. Allow them to pick 1 treat early on (a 25 cent book or something). This will keep them entertained and not begging for each and every toy they see. Or, with older kids, give them a limit of spending money- say $5. They have the freedom to choose what they buy and when. Once its gone, its gone. Keep toddlers in a stroller. It keeps them safe and away from playing with all of the toys for sale. You don't let your child ride a bike around meijer just because its there- use the same etiquette at garage sales. Unless you are thinking of buying, do not let them ride in or on toys.
  14. Be hands free! Put your cash in your pockets, lock the purse in the car. Clip on the cell phone. You'll be hands free to sort through the piles and bins.
  15. Set a limit. You could spend a lot of money very quickly because in small portions, its hard to keep track of how much you have spent. Set a limit for how much you spend and only bring that amount with you.

I'll work on more posts for my Garage Sale Bible. Feel free to add your own suggestions for Garage Sale Shoppers! (stick to the shopping side, I'll do a buyer's side next)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Things I Love Thursday- Betty Crocker Ap.



When it came time to do all of our traveling last fall, we knew that we would need some sort of music player. We had nothing- not even an 'ancient' cd player! So, we headed out to buy some sort of mp3 player. We ended up buying an Ipod touch 2G. I love it! We have wireless in the house, so I can do a quick check of the email, without loading up the computer. I have a couple little scribble games for Izzy to play when we are waiting in line or at an office. Its been so handy! I also put all of Izzy's music on there. I created playlists for her different favorites- veggie tales, praise songs from church, strawberry shortcake, etc. She tells me what she wants, I press play- no fumbling with CD's!

One of my favorite things with my Ipod touch have been the aps. One favorite of my is the Betty Crocker Ap. Its filled with all sorts of great, easy recipes with things I often have in the cupboard or fridge anyway. This little ap has a couple of great features:
  1. It was free!
  2. Surprise me function allows you to just let it pick random recipes for you to browse- coming up with things you wouldn't have thought of to look for (like a dry chai mix!)
  3. Search by ingredient allows you to find recipes that have 1-2 ingredients you have on hand and want to get rid of.
  4. Save my favorites so I don't have to go looking for that one recipe that sounded oh so good the other day!
  5. Did I mention it was free?

I love my Betty Crocker Ap. Plus, since its on my handy Ipod touch, I don't have to print anything out, just keep it close as I'm cooking!

That's what I love this Thursday. Head on over to The Diaper Diaries for more!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009