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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Selling for Summer

    (Above picture was 24 hours worth of online orders from Kidizen and Buy/Sell/Trade sites)
My goal for this spring was to fund the kid's summer programs with my online selling. I now have enough in my Paypal to sign them up for their activities (Becca will be going to a horse riding camp and Joe wants private swim lessons and a couple day camps). By selling the kid's outgrown clothing I made enough to purchase their wardrobes for this summer and enough left over to fund their summer activities. My little hobby of dressing them cute pays off as I finally know the brands that hold and exceed their retail value. By buying clearance or watching sales I can buy an outfit for $20, have them wear it a season, and still sell it for more.

Now that I've funded their summer activities I'll be saving my profits for their curriculum for the fall. I already bought Joe's 2nd grade science, health, and history books (Abeka) for 1/3 of the price through Ebay, the same goes for Becca's science, health, and history. I funded those purchases by selling some curriculum myself that we had no need for. I've decided on Spectrum books for writing, reading, and math and have been able to get those from Half Price Books with credit from books that I take in. So far all the curriculum has had no out of pocket expense this year. That will change as they get older; for example, I'm highly considering the Seton program for Becca once she reaches high school, as it is an accredited school. That will mean $$$, which I hope to still be able to fund with creative ways. Where there is a will, there is a way.

To quote Plato,   

“Necessity is the mother of invention.” 


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Running on Red Dog Road

I absolutely adore books set in the 1940's, add to it a childhood growing up in West Virginia (where my husband grew up) and I knew it was a book for me. 

"Gypsies, faith-healers, moonshiners, and snake handlers weave through Drema’s childhood in 1940s Appalachia after her father is killed in the coal mines, her mother goes off to work as a Rosie the Riveter, and she is left in the care of devout Pentecostal grandparents." Running on Red Dog Road by Drema Hall Berkheimer is a quick read; one, because it's a shorter memoir at just 203 pages and two, it goes quickly once you've become engrossed in it. 

I've said it before and I'll say it again - I love hearing people's stories. Our childhood, our life journey make us who we are and hearing about the lives of others is just fascinating. The only issue I had with the book is that it was hard to follow a timeline; I never knew how old Drema was throughout the book so therefore don't know if it followed a year, two years, or more of her life. Other than that it was interesting to get to know her grandparents (LOVED them!), see how much more self-sufficient kids were, and how much harder, yet simpler, times were. 

This book was given to me by BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Out With It!

Our garage sale was a smashing success last week. I really think that by having it as early as possible in the spring everyone is ready to shop; whereas if we wait until after the city wide sales people have much of what they need and don't grab like they do. 

Because our garage is tiny and not so nice we have to set up in the yard. The weather prior to our sale was chilly, rainy, and windy so I was worried until about three days beforehand when the forecast continued to show gorgeous weather for Thursday and Friday. We were not disappointed - both days dawned clear and warm and the crowds came out. As a matter of fact, within 10 minutes of the signs going up we had a steady stream of shoppers and I think that there was only about a three minute period on Thursday when there wasn't someone browsing. Friday was a bit slower but still steady. 

Siblings helped both days ( this was a total of five families contributing) and the kids were great and big helpers. Our sale made over $900 total and I personally made the most I have made at a sale yet: $325. 

I got rid of A LOT and at the end donated a car full to the charity shop, sent a large box to Swap.com, and gave some away to friends. I had a teeny tiny pile left to take back inside (about 6 things I decided to keep) so I really did stick to getting rid of it all.

It was great spending time with the family, seeing the kids work ethic (Becca and Joe each made over $25 each and had no qualms putting half their profit in the bank), and talking with "my kind of people" (garage sale shoppers!). But it was also a lot of work...weeks of organizing and pricing beforehand, setting up and taking down each day, getting sun burnt, etc.  And yet I'm sure this time next year I'll have forgotten all about that and be setting up another one! 

Friday, April 22, 2016


The adult coloring book Wonderland by Amy Shen is inspired by Alice's Adventures. Considering that we are all a little mad here it was a big hit with the household when it arrived. 
Woodland scenes, a little wonky and a lot of crazy, and many of the characters from the book bring this sweet coloring book together. These books are our rainy day activities and what I enjoy most about coloring as a family is that each book is decorated by all of us so it is a sweet memento to keep. 

This book was given to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

It's The Time of Year

Garage Sale season will soon be upon us! As a matter of fact, I've been to two already this year - both charity sales held indoors. With really decluttering our house I've already noticed a difference in what I pick up - not much! I see nice things that before I would have bought but now think, "I don't need that, I don't have a place for that". I did find Becca some needed Justice clothing for a great price and Amy a nice pile of GAP clothing though. 

With my KonMari and 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge I have a HUGE pile of stuff priced and ready to go in my own garage sale. I am hoping to set up next week, though if the current weather conditions continue into next week that will not be possible. I'm just watching the weather conditions and waiting - as are my siblings and cousins who will be including their own items. It may happen on the spur of the moment. 

Whenever the sale happens, my goal is to set aside all my proceeds to use for my own garage sale and thrift shopping this coming summer. Money is tighter now and by doing that I won't be drawing from the family budget. I also plan to continue being much more selective in what I do buy, only purchasing items I truly need and love. It's amazing what deals can be found while garage sailing and I hope to highlight the fun finds here on the blog. I'll update on my own garage sale once it's happening. :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The More of Less

I've been reading a lot of minimalist as well as organizing books recently so I tried not to compare  The More of Less by Joshua Becker but it's only natural to note the pros and cons of each book in my mind.

The second half of this book didn't do a whole lot for me as it discussed the purging part of the process, but not nearly in as much detail as the KonMari method. Having already read the latter book before reading this one I didn't take away anything new, though someone else may.

The first half of the book was fascinating to me. As a Pastor Becker does sometimes write from a spiritual standpoint (which I enjoyed) but I don't think his way would be off putting to anyone. He writes about the excess in America and how we could live with so much less and find our passions and purposes under all that stuff. He clearly points out that his viewpoint of minimalism is not about paring down your possessions to the bare minimum but rather to only own what you love.  That journey will be different for everyone - one person may find joy and happiness in their hundreds of books while another may only own a Kindle. 

He goes on to point out that at some point we often go from owning something to it owning us. For example, is buying a 5,000sqf house important if you have to spend all your time at work to pay for it? This book includes real stories of real people who decided to give up some (or almost all!) of their stuff in order to have what they truly want - the freedom to travel from country to country, donating proceeds to charity, saving money or getting out of debt, or even just having less stress. Yes, stuff is stressful. 

This book goes deep. It's not just about "having a clean house, but rather a full life".

This book was given to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Pressing Pause

Pressing Pause by Karen Ehman & Ruth Schwenk gives you 100 quiet moments for moms to meet with Jesus. Each devotion begins with a Bible Verse, followed by a section written by one of the two authors, ending with a prayer and a question to answer.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, in order to have a relationship with God we need to spend time with him. Daily. If we are the company that we keep shouldn't we be spending the most time with Jesus? As a busy mom it can be difficult to really just sit down and listen to His word. I've found devotionals to be the answer to the problem. This book is filled with 100 short devotionals that can be done in ten minutes or less. If I read one in the morning the message stays with me all day, if I read it at night I can meditate on the passage while drifting off to sleep. 

What I like especially about this devotional is that the message basically boils down to the fact that all mothers, in all walks of life, are doing their best. And when we feel like a failure, or start to compare ourselves to others, or feel tired and alone - we can get encouragement from other women who are in the same boat. There is no preaching, only encouragement in this devotional.

It's also a very beautiful, hardbound book so perfect to gift to other mothers that may need a little confidence in the motherhood journey. We are all in this together, mamas!

This book was given to me by BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

Having a Martha Home the Mary Way

I may just be collecting all of Sarah Mae's books, because her third book, Having a Martha Home the Mary Way is just as good as her previous two (Longing for Paris and Desperate -with Sally Clarkson). 

This book will give you 31 days to a clean house and a satisfied soul. Each day gives personal insight into Mae's own life, a daily reading or two with added devotional questions, and a "to-do" list.

While I've been implementing the Konmari method to get my home clutter-free, this book will be helping me with daily tasks that sometimes just feel overwhelming. 

Ultimately Mae convinces us that it is not a clean house that defines good homemaking, but rather a warm, inviting place that is filled with love. 

That is something that most mothers need to hear. I've given up on having a perfect home while the children are small. Especially since we are essentially home 24/7 together and busy with life - our home is lived in and looks it, too. Some days it's cleaner than others. Some days it falls into a category 5 tornado zone. 

That's okay. Mae teaches us to be gentle with ourselves as well as being gentle with others. I want our kids to be comfortable in their own home and not for it to be museum-like. But I also want to be comfortable with inviting someone over on a moment's notice and not be ashamed at the condition of the house. So this book encourages us to give up perfection but also keep up with some expectations of how we want our house to be. A nice, gentle middle ground.

I love Mae's style of writing because she talks "with us", not "down to us". It's a very easy book to follow with short daily chapters and easy to-do lists. 

Now on to cleaning the microwave and refrigerator today. :/ 

This book was given to me by Tyndale Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Emotional Fool

My baby turns three today! My little April fool.
Her birthday is a challenge for me. I vividly remember the day that she was born. It was the day of Jacob's Palliative care chemotherapy appointment. The day before I had decided to just send my husband and mom to it as I didn't want to be 70 miles away from home when I was 4 days overdue.

It turns out that my husband wasn't able to go to the appointment either since I ended up in labor that day.

It was a very, very emotional day. I asked my mom to go ahead with the appointment but was so worried about Jacob all day. Would he be nervous being at the clinic with just my mom? Would something be said in front of him that would make him scared? It turned out to be a good day with Grandma for him but knowing that your mom was hearing palliative care information about your sweet boy while you are in labor is a thing you just don't ever forget.

I'm sure that when my mom posted on her Facebook wall that morning that I had been rushed to the hospital by ambulance due to bleeding heavily that many people thought it was an April Fool's Joke. I wish it had been. The doctor  never figured out what caused the bleeding but the OR was on stand-by when I arrived because the first thought was placenta abruptio, which was my thought in the shower and struck a chord of fear in me that I've only felt a few times in my life; hearing about the death of my dad and a couple times throughout Jacob's illness.

Thankfully, little Amy was born perfectly healthy later that day after a couple more slight scares (her heart rate dipping several times, talk of a c-section). 

My husband brought all the kids to the hospital that night to see Amy and all I can remember is as they walked around the corner of the curtains seeing Jacob's face light up with joy at the sight of his little sister. My eyes didn't move from his face - his beautiful little face...because I knew that he has just been at an appointment that was focused on making him comfortable in the months to come. I knew that in one week's time I would be at another appointment getting his hospice set up.  

That is why Amy's birthdays have been fraught with emotions each year. We are so, so blessed with her in our lives, but the memories of the day of her birth are to this day very anxiety-inducing for me. Heart-breaking. 

Last year on Facebook my post was: 

We all went out to eat at Dairy Queen tonight for Amy's birthday. I was feeling sad, thinking that Jacob should have been there and that it isn't the same as a "family" without him. As we were eating I noticed that a teen girl sitting behind us was wearing a Dance Marathon t-shirt (the charity at the U of I Hospital which was a huge part of Jacob's cancer journey. Then as we are pulling out of the parking lot I see a big truck with the word "Jacob's Trucking". Ben still was rolling his eyes at me so I said, "It's so obvious. I bet if you looked outside you would have seen a hummingbird!" He replies, "Like the hummingbird tattoo that the lady sitting by the door had?"
I know Jacob is with us today. And always.
Certain days in this journey are just extremely hard, as I'm sure they will always be. It's just the way it is.


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