Archive | April, 2015

The Stars At Night Are Big And Bright…

27 Apr

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Well, if you haven’t gotten any of the clues from social media, we have news! We are moving to San Antonio, Texas at the end of the summer. It is a move that has been in the works for years, but we have finally gotten the nerve to take the leap of faith and just do it!

I think a big push was the miserable house hunt we experienced at the beginning of the year. The cost of homes is only going up in Denver and we have no desire to be house poor. We would rather live our lives and have experiences as a family than have a beautiful home in a beautiful neighborhood. The great thing about San Antonio is that we will get to have a beautiful home with great schools for half the cost giving us so much more money to travel and make memories.

This move has been a roller coaster ride and we aren’t even to San Antonio yet. It is hard to leave a state I have been in since I was five years old. It is even harder to leave three amazing sets of grandparents who have all been less than an hour away from us since our kids were born. Something in my heart is telling me that, despite having so much here, it is time to move our lives there and start a new adventure that will hopefully only lead to many, many more adventures down the road.

So, why San Antonio? We can live anywhere in The United States and we picked Texas. Well, there are a few reasons. For one, my grandparents are about an hour away. I am beyond thrilled to be living so close to them. Another reason is that the cost of living is about half what it is in Denver. We can be in a great neighborhood with top notch schools for less than half the cost of the so-so homes in Denver. San Antonio is hot and humid. To most people that sounds miserable. I keep my thermostat at 80 degrees. I love heat! And a more unconventional answer… It just feels right to live there.

I know this move is not going to be easy financially, logistically or emotionally. I know I will cry. I know we will have moments of euphoria and moments of crippling guilt. I also know that I am doing what feels right for my family and it feels good to be listening to my heart.

It’s the Simple Things in Life

11 Apr
Sometimes life smacks you in the face and reminds you to appreciate the little things in life. Today it was these flowers the kids and I picked from our bushes.

Sometimes life smacks you in the face and reminds you to appreciate the little things in life. Today it was these flowers the kids and I picked from our bushes.

How To Have A Successful Garage Sale

10 Apr

garage-sale

Being an eBay seller, yard sales are part of my job. We go to hundreds of yard sales, church sales and community sales every summer. I guess you could call us expert yard sailers. Over our years of attending sales we have come up with a list of how to have a yard sale that will be packed with people and in turn will make you more money than doing it another way. Here are the tips we have come up with:

1. Advertise your sale!
There are so many free ways to get the word out that you are having a great sale that everyone should want to come to. Craigslist is the main source people look to for yard sales. In your ad make sure you say the dates and times of your sale. List some of the cool stuff you will have for sale and take a few sneak peek pictures to entice people to come.

2. Have clear, easy to read signs
It seems obvious, but clear signs are a must! Unless your HOA has other rules all your sign needs to say is “Garage sale” and the dates of the sell. There is no need to write all the items you have on the sign. People driving by won’t be able to read it. Also, make sure your arrows are clear and BIG.

3. Make all the signs uniform
Have your signs be all the same color and size. Buyers get confused if you have one sign on a paper plate and the next on a pink board. Keep it simple, simple, simple!

4. If you live pretty far into a neighborhood have signs along the route
Buyers can get discouraged if the feel like they are driving for miles and don’t see any signs. Many will turn around and assume the sale doesn’t exist anymore. I would recommend a sign every six blocks or so even if it is just an arrow pointing straight

5. Don’t have a sale if you don’t have enough stuff for a sale
As a buyer I won’t even stop if the sale doesn’t have much stuff. It is a pain to get little ones in and out of the car for a sale with barely anything for sale. You are wasting your time if you don’t have enough stuff. Hold onto it until next year or get a group of friends together so you can have a driveway FULL of stuff

6. Make things presentable
It drives me nuts when things look like they were thrown onto a tarp at the last minute. Sure, digging can be fun, but plenty of people won’t dig and will just leave. Put things nicely on tables. Take time to clean dirty and dusty items before the sale. Dirty, unorganized things will always result in lowball offers.

7. Price your items!
When I go to a sale where nothing is priced I am likely to just leave. I am a shy person and don’t want to ask you how much every single item costs. Plus, if the person holding the yard sale is busy with someone else I won’t want to interrupt them. At least have bins of 50 cent, one dollar etc items.

8. Be willing to haggle
People go to yard sales hoping to get great deals. And the purpose of your sale is to de clutter, right?! Don’t be offended by people’s offers. I know it feels like a personal attack because it’s YOUR old stuff, but play the game! Counter their offers! I am not saying you need to give stuff away. I am saying you need to learn the fine art of haggling.

9. Have plenty of change and some grocery bags, too
You would not believe how many sales I have left with nothing because the person holding the sale didn’t have change for a twenty dollar bill. Make sure you have at least $100 in small bills and change. Keep it on you at all times. That being said, don’t ever accept bills larger than twenty dollars. Some people prey on innocent yard sailers and give them counterfeit bills because, well, they can.

10. Have fun!
People can spot a grumpy person from a mile away. I have been to sales with the grouchiest of people. One woman complaining that people were making a mess of her stuff, another complaining someone walked on her grass. This is a huge turn off to buyers. Put a smile on your face and enjoy the day!

11. When the sale is over take your signs down!!
This isn’t so much to benefit you, but all the poor people who follow your signs that lead to nowhere. It is just garage sale etiquette. It is really frustrating following signs that lead to nowhere. Be prompt with taking the signs over after the sale. And, don’t put your signs up in the morning until your sale is ready either. It will stress both you and the customers out if they arrive before you are ready to sell them anything.

The Start of Our Normal

9 Apr

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May of 2011

Tick*Tock*Tick*Tock

I sat in the sterile community college classroom watching yet another movie as the professor sat there, likely on her Facebook page liking posts about kittens and browsing Buzzfeed. What made this Tuesday morning even more unbearable was the fact that my three year old son and two year old daughter were sick and at the sitters. If I missed another psychology class this semester I would fail it due to attendance. I could watch the movie from HOME with my sick babies by my side instead of with someone who WASN’T their mom. But, alas, I was here paying thousands of dollars for this class and hundreds of dollars on a textbook I had yet to open.

I am a pretty even mannered person. A stereotypical Libra. But, something inside me that day, call it a mothers instinct, caused me to stand up and walk right out of that classroom without a word to anyone. I could feel the burning stares in the back of my head as I walked out and let the door slam behind me. I walked down the hall, picked up pace across the courtyard and took a deep breath as I entered the bookstore’s building. I wanted to sell back the $250 book that had been serving as a literal weight on my shoulders the past few months.

I took the book out of my backpack with shaking hands and asked how much they would give me for this brand new book that I had paid $250 for mere months before. Their response? NOTHING. They could give me NOTHING for that brick that had been weighing my life down…and they could give me $15 for the other $650 in books I got that semester. I was baffled and speechless. I was counting on that money back. I had two kids in diapers. My husband made minimum wage. I had just dropped out of college in an instant impulsive way. I NEEDED that money.

I walked to my car with the gas tank dangerously close to that dreaded red line. I had no money to fill it so I was praying I would make it home. I tossed the apparent fire kindling into the backseat and I cried….and cried…and cried.

When I got home I felt like a kid confessing doing something really stupid to their parents. My husband listened to me with odd composure. To this day I don’t know why he remained so calm. I told him I would figure it all out. I would find some way to make us some money so we could pay the bills that month and the next month I would figure out a way again. I hugged my kids tight and went to the car to get those heavy books, the bitter reminder of my failures at school. The reminders that I was clearly going to become another teen mom statistic.

I brought the books inside, dropped them onto the kitchen table and, I am not sure why, but I decided to look up those books on Amazon. I don’t remember if I was angry and wanted to somehow prove to myself that they had value. Maybe I wanted to torture myself. I don’t know. But, as I looked up the books I slowly began to calm down. A few were worth nearly what I paid for them. But I had no clue how to sell anything online and it was probably well above my skill level.

I sat up the entire night reading every single free resource I could find about selling on Amazon. I joined Facebook groups, I watched YouTube videos, I read the Amazon Sellers Handbook cover to cover. As the sun rose the next morning I had bags under my eyes, but I had also listed sixteen books for sale on Amazon. And by the time the world had woken up I had two sales totaling $35 dollars. Enough to fill my gas tank.

Fast forward two weeks.

I had read even more blogs and had even learned how to ship the items I sold. I made a grand total of $650 off those textbooks and a few books we had at home. I was starting to wonder if I could make this an actual business. We used that $650 to purchase some bookshelves and a huge lot of books we found on Craigslist. We were still very clueless, but decided we were going to go all in and try to make this work. I spent weeks in our dusty garage looking up every last book we got. I spent another week listing them and organizing them by title on the shelving in our basement.

It was working. I was starting to make money. At the age of 22 I was telling people I owned my very first business, Lizzy’s Learning Corner.

That was almost three years ago.

In those three years I changed my business name, moved out of the garage and into a warehouse space. I don’t even sell books anymore. Selling books was boring to me. I eventually branched out into brand new toys and games and much of my inventory is now stored at Amazon’s warehouses. I branched out to start selling on eBay and eventually Etsy.

This business that started out as a desperate attempt to fill my gas tank and restore some pride has turned into my life, and in February of 2013 my husband left his nearly minimum wage job and made the business his life, too. At the age of 25 I can now confidently say I work for myself.

And, the biggest perk? When my kids are sick I get to be at home with them and don’t run the risk of failing a class or getting fired from a minimum wage job.

This is my barely vintage life, and I am excited to share my journey.

Why I Love Jesus, But Hate Easter

3 Apr

I will never forget Easter of 2013. My children were three and five and I was so excited to take them to their very first Easter egg hunt. I never really understood why kids hunted for eggs or why some creepy life size rabbit wandered around having kids sit on his lap, but I wanted them to experience the white picket fence Easter every child deserved. The morning started off with me trying to get a crying three year old into an incredibly itchy white dress and bribing my five year old to wear a bow tie and long sleeve shirt despite the unseasonably warm temperatures we were having.

Little did I know, the morning of flying bow ties and tangled hair would really be the least of my worries.

After a breakfast of me hovering over them making sure they didn’t get syrup all over their brand new clothes we got them in the car RIGHT as nap time was supposed to start and headed off to a park twenty minutes south of our house. Our three year old fell asleep exactly four minutes before we arrived at said park and awoke to my husband silently cursing as he navigated the stream of cars all trying to cram into two parking lots. Something about 100 parking spots and 500 cars trying to compete for spots tends to bring out the worst in people.

We should have known then that we needed to turn around and head home.

Twenty seven minutes later we found a spot a mile away from the park and made the long and daunting walk with fifty other families lugging strollers and cranky kids. What a Norman Rockwell afternoon it was shaping up to be. Once we got to the park I was wishing I had brought a flask of Everclear with me. It was something out of a horror movie. A quarter of a million snot nosed, cranky children hovered around a field filled with 125 Easter eggs as they foamed at the mouths. Over the loud speaker (and it was LOUD) they gave a countdown for when the bloodbath festivities were to begin.

Again, I should have turned around and gone home then.

5…4…3…2…1…

It was almost in slow motion. Parents were screaming to their kids to get the most eggs. Other parents were giving last minute pep talks. Others cheated (yes CHEATED) and had their kids run onto the field before the hunt had even started. The horn blew and children were everywhere. Some got trampled as thirteen year olds rushed to get the eggs first. One boy lost his glasses (and later discovered them snapped in half by a tree). Toddlers were bawling, parents were yelling and my husband, kids, and myself all stood there in shock.

It was all over in a matter of seconds and the aftermath was horrific. All for some melted chocolate in 2 cent pastel eggs.

Ever since that day I have decided that I love Jesus, and hate Easter. Whoever decided that Easter should focus on some creepy rabbit and colorful cavity ridden eggs should be mauled by all of the kids that were crying on the side of the field. And all of the parents who coached their children to have such nasty attitudes should get the privilege of being a mall Easter bunny for a day.

As for me and my family? Easter at the grandparents house it is! And bye bye stuffy, uncomfortable clothes. Jesus loves us just as much in jeans and a t-shirt.

One Enchanted Rock

3 Apr

About twenty minutes outside beautiful Fredericksburg, Texas lies quite a magnificent…rock. Yes, rock. You see, this rock possesses powers that no other rock holds. It is really quite a magical rock. People travel to this rock from all over the land to get the secret powers the rock holds. The rock holds the spirits of many Native Americans who used to live on and around it. Each day the rock grants one lucky person their wish for a power. It can be any power they would like to have. So, every person who respects the rock and traverses both up and down it without one complaint gets the opportunity to ask the rock to grant them a magical power. At the top of Enchanted Rock lies a single tree right in the middle of all of the granite. When you have reached this tree you must sit in front of it for ten seconds without moving and with your eyes closed. You silently ask the rock for a power and then thank the spirits of Enchanted Rock. You do not find out if you have gotten a power until you have gotten to the bottom of the climb down. If you complain you do not get any power at all even if you were the chosen one for that day. During our trip to Texas we had the opportunity to climb Enchanted Rock. It was a pilgrimage of sorts.

My son asked the rock for the power to fly and my daughter asked the rock for ice power (Thanks, Frozen). Neither of them complained once going up the rock. On the way down our daughter fell a few times and bravely said “I was going to cry, but then I didn’t”. She really wanted those powers and she was quite confident she was the chosen one. The problem with her plan? She *ghasp* whined of being hungry on the way down. As the story says, if you complain you get no powers. She quickly realized she had broken Enchanted Rock’s rules and that she would not become an ice princess that day. A tear slowly fell down her cheek. The great thing is that the rest of the trip she still didn’t complain even though she knew her chances of getting powers were gone.

Even though I shamelessly created that story so my kids wouldn’t whine on the somewhat difficult hike, I still felt a little hint of magic in the giant slab of granite myself. Maybe it was the beautiful views or the fact that the sun peeked through the clouds right when my daughter told the rock “thank you.” Maybe it was me WANTING to believe that there really are spirits living in nature around us. Either way, I hope I never lose the feeling I personally got from such a silly story.

On the ride home my daughter had her head hung low and I knew she was beating herself up about whining so I really did feel a little bad about creating the story. I had to think quickly and told her that she really does have a power that is stronger than any other power I could think of. She got excited and hopeful and I told her she posesses the power to make people smile. A power most people only dreamed of having. She seemed quite content with that power. I suppose the moral of this story is to believe in yourself and believe you, too, have powers only other people only wish they had. What is your power?

EnchantedRock

Pondering

1 Apr

I have so much to say and planned to write a few posts all about it, but I came across this poem that sums up exactly how I feel in a much more eloquent and precise way.

SLOW DANCE

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round,
or listened to rain slapping the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight,
or gazed at the sun fading into the night?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

Do you run through each day on the fly,
when you ask “How are you?”, do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed,
with the next hundred chores running through your head?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

Ever told your child, we’ll do it tomorrow,
and in your haste, not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch, let a friendship die,
’cause you never had time to call and say hi?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere,
you miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,
it’s like an unopened gift thrown away.

Life isn’t a race, so take it slower,
hear the music before your song is over.

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