Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday Morning

Farewell summer!  Hello fall.  Well, technically by the calendar the summer isn't over yet.  But, once the school buses start arriving, it feels like they bring fall with them.

Here are some of my thoughts on this Monday summer/fall morning...

1.  Two boys are at school!  
      Note to self - When they say to be waiting early for the bus on the first day of school they mean it.   The bus came about 10 minutes earlier than I expected this morning for Wyatt (entering 2nd grade!).  So, this resulted in rushing out the door frantically grabbing the camera and throwing my child on the bus with a quick kiss. (Luckily I had taken a few pictures of him earlier in the morning.)

     Things were a little more relaxed for taking Edison to school.  He's in afternoon kindergarten so I actually drop him off at the school after lunch.  He'll come home on the bus with Wyatt.  Since this was the second time I've had a child start kindergarten I didn't expect it to be a hugely emotional event.  But, I'll admit, I did get a bit of a lump in my throat when I saw how proud he looked as he walked into the school with his spanky new backpack.

     (I'll post pictures later....)

2.  I had a tomato catastrophe last week.
    I was too busy writing my landlord series to write anything else.  But, I'll tell you now.  I'm no longer weeping and gnashing my teeth, but it still spites me what happened.  So, I had a boocoo collection of tomatoes that I wanted to can.  But, with four boys I don't have a large window of time to work on my big projects.  I tried to do it the 'quickie' way.

      Usually when canning tomatoes you should blanch the tomatoes and peel off the skin.  I didn't feel like I had the time for that...and I don't mind the skins (there are vitamins in there right?).  So, I decided to wash them (twice to be sure they were clean), core them, and cut them into chunks, then I'd cook them down a bit before putting them in my canning jars.

      I had one large pot with about 4 gallons of tomatoes, and another smaller pot with about 2 gallons.  Any guesses as to what happened?  I scorched my large pot of tomatoes.  Really really bad.  It smelled horrible, but I kept hoping that maybe the ones near the top of the pot were OK.  So, I tasted them.
      It tasted like what I imagine licking an ash tray must taste like.  Four gallons of tomatoes ruined!  The smaller pot was fine, but I was SO angry at myself!

3.  Projects, projects.
    With the 2 big boys in school, I'm feeling like this might be my opportunity to get some projects done around this house.  Now if I can just locate my motivation and energy....

Friday, August 27, 2010

On Becoming Landlords - Part Four - The End/ The Beginning

So, why did we choose to try our hand at real estate?

1. We wanted to be less dependant on my husband's paycheck

2. It gives us the opportunity to save money toward a future home purchase.

3. We wanted to change our mindsets & start to view money as a tool.

In our five year plan we would like to eventually be able to purchase a somewhat larger home with some acreage. Our goal is still fairly modest. I prefer older homes to new homes, so in my vision I see an old stone or brick farmhouse with hardwood floors and a huge, bright farmhouse kitchen. We would love to have about 5 acres (preferably with a stream or a creek, maybe a pond). In this dream we'd have space for a large garden, fruit trees, a barn in which my husband can tinker on tractors & his motorcycle, room for the boys to run, and I would love to have goats or sheep...just because I love goats & sheep. And, we would love somewhere quiet & away from hustle & bustle of the world.

That's our dream. Whether or not it comes to fruition is yet to be seen.

And, here's where my spiritual & moral dilemna with this whole venture has come into play. We live in a society where we are encouraged & expected to constantly be striving for something bigger, better, MORE. At times I have felt like the oddball because we have lived our entire married life in a home that wouldn't meet most people's standards (and certainly not HGTV's!). I have struggled with contentment and then, in the next moment, struggle with guilt for not being truly grateful for all we have.

We are blessed beyond measure. Even the poor in this country would be considered rich in so many countries around the world. When I read things like this, I am reminded of that truth.

As Christians where are our hearts and minds supposed to be? - set toward the advancement of our earthly treasures or toward the advancement of God's kingdom? Of course I know the answer to that question. But then it raises another question that I still don't know if I have answered...." As a Christian is it OK to strive toward an earthly goal or is that materialism creeping in?"

I really think it's a balance. And, here are some of the thoughts that I have had... (By the way, please note that I do not buy into the prosperity/ health & wealth teaching that seems to be out there in so many circles)

1. God created us in His image. And he is a God of creativity - His greatest creative work being all of Creation. I think we have an inner drive to try new things, to accomplish goals. What we do with that drive can be used to His Glory or our detriment.

2. I mentioned that we wanted to start viewing money as a tool rather than just something we earn. There is the parable of the talents in Matthew 25 in which a master leaves his servants with money to care for in his absence. Two of the servants took the money and used it to earn more and had doubled the number of talents the master gave them by the time he returned. To them the master said, "Well done, good and faithful servant! you have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things."
But, the third servant took the one talent he received and buried it until his master's return. The master was displeased with him and said, "You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received back with interest."

As with all parables Jesus has a point to make that involves more than just the example & story He uses. Still, I believe it does also speak to the fact that we are to be stewards of the money God has given us. We are to use it and to make the money work for God's kingdom

3. I felt very specifically one Sunday at church (when we were discussing finances from a Biblical perspective) like God was saying to me "Have you been faithful with what you have been given so far?" And, I would answer "yes". My husband and I believe in bringing our full tithe before God. I know tithing can also be a controversial subject - but it is something my husband and I have felt led to do and we have always seen God's provision in our lives. It was tempting to stop tithing during lean times, but we continued and God was always faithful.
Then, I felt like God said, "Would you continue to be faithful with more?" And, again, I answered 'yes'. And, that is the part that I keep thinking about. In what ways could God use us for the advancement of His kingdom if we continue to pursue this real estate venture? Some ideas that have been planted in my heart are

  • We could have properties available for missionaries on furlough to use free of charge
  • We can expand our circle of people by getting to know tenants & neighbors and speak God's love into their lives.
  • We can be free to assist in missions trips/ relief efforts - right now the cost to go is a hindering factor.
  • I think of the child in Kenya that we sponsor and how, if someday he were interested in coming to the States, we could continue our sponsorship and support of him as he establishes himself.
  • And, I'm sure God has other ways he would call us into service, ways that we can't even comprehend right now.
4. Stepping into real estate investment is a vision my husband has had for many years now. Two things I have learned about my husband is that when he has a vision he WILL find a way to make it happen, and God's hand is in that vision.

So, as I said in my very first landlord post, it's hard for me to move forward when I can't see each and every step and the outcome ahead. But, we know God's hand is in this and this seems to be one of those times He is asking us to step out in faith.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

We Interrupt the Regularly Scheduled Program...

Hey just taking a quick little break in my Landlord series....I'm gonna wrap things up this week with Part 4.  Then I'm done I promise.

Anyway, I wanted to encourage you to head on over to Chatty Mommy.  Somehow she always comes up with these really cool giveaways...I have to ask her sometime how she does that.  She has a giveaway going on right now from an Etsy store called Elephant Tales

They have some really cutey patootie things.  I think these personalized alphabet cubes (great for birth announcements or as a gift) are my favorite.

Her giveaway runs until go check it out.

Also, I just had to share with you what happens when I leave my husband alone with our boys...

 Is that...are they....?

Why yes.  They are on the barn roof.

The only reason the baby wasn't up there too is that I was feeding him.  They went up to check on the apples from our apple tree (you can see it hanging over the roof).  But, they found that they weren't ready yet.  And, yeah, the barn really is that ramshackle.  

Can I just say that sometimes my husband makes me very nervous?

On Becoming Landlords - Part Three - How Do We Do This?

So we established in the last post, that despite our frugal living, we really didn't have any extra money to work with.

So, how in the world were we going to purchase a rental property?

What we needed was a financial advisor.  But, we didn't have the money to spend for someone's pricey advice either.  So, we plugged into other resources.  My husband's brother recently started selling real estate & my husband's uncle had been involved in real estate for years and years.  Our first step was to pick their brains.

We also had a couple friends who had tried some real estate investments, so we also talked to them to find out what did work and what didn't work.

Next, my brother-in-law put my husband in contact with a loan officer/ financial wizard from a bank that his real estate company worked with.  This guy truly has a gift.  He was able to run through numbers with my husband explaining exactly how to make this possible.

When my husband came home & tried explaining it to me, I was still very resistant to the idea.  But, I agreed to go with my husband to meet with the man again so that he could go through the numbers with me and explain it in more detail.   (By the way, this guy probably spent about 2 hours or so between the meeting with just my husband and the meeting with the 2 of us.  He never charged us for his time.)

Now, I need to preface this by saying that we were super close to paying off our within 4-5 years.  The only reason this was the case was...

 1.  Our house was super inexpensive to start with.  Originally my father-in-law bought it at an auction (the house was 2 doors up from them and had belonged to his uncle & aunt).  My father-in-law in turn sold it to my husband (this all transpired before John & I were married).  Keep in mind this house had belonged to an Old Order Mennonite family.  There was no electricity, no insulation, very limited plumbing, and a LOT of cosmetic work. Fortunately my husband is a handyman extraordinaire and did the work himself.  We are STILL working on it.

 2.  My husband had set up the mortgage as a 15 year mortgage as opposed to a 30 year.

 3.  We had been working toward paying it off early & put a little extra in each month...some months more than others.

We were sooooo close.  And, what the man was going to suggest to us felt like going backwards to me...but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Originally our plan was to pay off our house & then start saving toward a larger home with more acreage for us & to save for money toward a rental property.  Our plan also was (and still is) to keep our current home and eventually rent it out as well.

This financial guy showed us how to get started on our plan now.
Here's what he suggested...and what we implemented.

  • Refinance our home.  (I debated whether or not to share actual numbers with you.  It makes it easier to understand if I do. And, originally I typed it out that way. But, then I thought about it a little more & I don't think my husband would be too jazzed about me including the specifics and sending them out into cyberspace.  So, I'm going to be as general as I can, but hopefully you can follow along.).  Our house is assessed at higher than what we owed (and also was we originally paid).  We refinanced for about 65% of the value of the property for 30 years, giving us a chunk of money to work with after closing costs.
  • Use the money received from refinancing to make a 20% down payment on a rental property.
  • Retain a portion of the refinancing money in an special account to use in the event the property needed repairs, etc.
  • We then purchased a 2 unit property valued higher than it's selling price (It was in pre-forclosure).  
  • The money collected from rent covers the full mortgage of the rental property and all but $25 of our personal mortgage.
  • The money that we usually set aside for our own mortgage continues to get set aside in a savings account.  That money is not to be touched.  It is the money that we will continue to save toward a different house for us.  In 5 years time we should have approximately $50,000 saved toward a down payment.
The specifics were ironed out.  I really struggled with going from being completely debt free in 5 years to having TWO 30 year mortgages.  But, I eventually came to terms with that.

The other struggle I still had was more of a spiritual be discussed next.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

On Becoming Landlords - Part Two - Our Financial Background

As I mentioned yesterday, I could see the benefits to investing in real estate.  I just didn't see how it was possible, and I was still totally scared to try.

We don't have a lot of extra money available to work with.  But we did have some things working for us...

My husband and I worked very hard to be debt free (with the exception of our mortgage) before we had children.  I know that for so many that seems an impossible dream alone.   Here's how we did it...

 - Neither one of us had student loans to pay.  I worked during college, attended a state college (cheaper), lived at home & commuted (much cheaper) and paid my college bills as they came.  And, yes, I paid tuition by myself. My parents were not in a financial position to assist me - although they did pay for my books, and of course gave me room & board.  My husband attended an aviation technical school & also paid his own tuition.

 - Neither of us had car loans.  I bought my car new as a college the time my husband & I met almost 10 years later my car was paid off.  My husband always bought used cars with the amount of money he had available.  Since we've been married, any time we need to replace a vehicle, we save money & then  buy used.  No loans.

 - I did have some credit card debt coming into our marriage (my husband did not), but the first 2 years of our marriage we used my paycheck  toward debt reduction.  By the time Baby #1 came, it was paid off.  Now if we use a credit card we pay off the balance in full every month.  If we can't do that, then we don't buy it.

 - We live in a very, very modest home with a very, very low mortgage payment.

So, that was what we had working in our favor.  Our challenges were these...

 - Despite our frugal living and no debt we still pretty much find ourselves living paycheck to paycheck.  We tithe, we save, we pay our bills & there's not a whole lot left after that.

 - Living on one paycheck means we make sacrifices.  It influences the kind of house we live in, the kind of car we drive.  I rarely if ever buy clothes or shoes or have my hair done. We've been very fortunate in clothing for our boys - we've received a lot of hand-me-downs from friends & family & they often receive clothing as gifts for birthdays/ Christmas. We still enjoy eating out, but only on occassion.  We raise some of our own food & shop at a discount grocery store.  It is hard, but to me it's worth it to be home with my children.

 - We had no money saved for a down payment on a rental property, and we had no extra money floating around.

So, how would this be financially possible?  Finding that answer was the next step in moving forward & will be what I discuss in Part 3.

Monday, August 23, 2010

On Becoming Landlords or How My Husband Talked Me Into Doing Something That Scares Me To Death - Part One

If there is one thing you should know about me, it's that I am not a risk-taker.  I am not one to take chances.  You will never find me jumping out of airplanes (just getting ON an airplane is a stretch for me) or bungee jumping.

And, when it comes to other areas of life I tend to live very status quo.  Why rock the boat if something has worked so far?  If I can't see the end result and every step that leads to said result then let's just leave well enough alone.

My husband is the opposite of me in this way.  He thrives on adventure & danger.  He finds the thrill in new challenges.  He is able to step out in faith when he doesn't know exactly where the road is going to take him.

We balance each other.

And sometimes we stretch out of our comfort zones to meet the other part way.

Stepping into the world of owning a rental property and becoming landlords was a stretch for me.

My husband has been interested in investing in real estate in some way, whether by flipping properties or owning rental units, since before we were married.  He saw it as a way to get beyond living paycheck to paycheck.  And, he liked the idea of not being totally dependent upon his paycheck.  In an economic climate where people have been losing their jobs (and for us, last year my husband took a cut in hours) it made sense to him to have an another form of income.

And, all of that made sense to me.  But, to actually take that step and DO something about it scared the hoo ha out of me.  And, I have to admit, I probably held my husband back.  He didn't want to start such a major venture until he knew I was on board.

How I got on board and what we hope to accomplish is what the next few posts will be about.  Stay tuned for Part 2.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

It's Good to Know He Cares

After stepping on the bathroom scales and seeing a lower number than I anticipated...

Me: "Wow.  I don't know if that's right or not, but it would be awesome if it was."

Edison:  (the 5 year old):  "Yeah!  That would be crazy awesome!"

Friday, August 20, 2010

We Have a Winner

After the very scientific method of pulling a name out of a hat (actually a butterfly net) we have a winner for the Sally Belle Designs giveaway.  My son Edison drew out the lucky name.

The winner is....

Congratulations Jen!  I will be contacting you to confirm the set you would like to receive.

Thanks to everyone who entered and for taking the time to check out Sally Belle Designs.  I know Sally really appreciates it!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Just a reminder....

Hey ya'all.  Today is the last day to enter the Sally Belle Designs giveaway!  The deadline for entries is midnight tonight.  And, I will be announcing the winner tomorrow.  Go here to enter for the giveaway.

Also, since I announced this giveaway, Sally introduced 2 new card sets.

There is a vintage theme set.

And, she is currently working on a birthday theme set.

Good luck!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Do I Really Mean It?

Every night as I pray with my boys before their bedtime, I always end the prayer with these words....

"And most of all Lord, I pray that these boys grow into strong men of who love You and honor You and serve You all the days of their life."

It is the prayer of my heart.  My boys have heard me pray it over them so often that if I change the wording, they correct me.

But, today I was challenged.  And, I questioned myself, "Do I really mean it?"  
Of course I do!,  I answered myself back.
But, what if I knew that in the act of service to God, a sacrifice was required of my child?  Would I still mean it?

I found myself asking these questions after watching a video that an old high school friend posted on Facebook.  It was a tribute to Brian Carderelli, 25, who was among those in a medical relief group gunned down on Aug. 5  in Afghanistan.  Brian would have been her cousin's son, so for her family this tragedy struck close to home. 

I did not know this young man, but as I watch this video remembering his life, I see qualities that I hope to see in my own sons as they enter manhood.  I see the type of man I would love for them to become. 

It seems he lived so much more in his few short years than many people live in a lifetime.

And, he loved Jesus.  

The video is a beautiful tribute to his life.  And, his life was a beatiful tribute to the Lord.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

On My Mind

I feel like as summer is winding down our days have become a whirlwind.  It's time to fit in some visits with friends and relatives before school starts.  And, my husband has been crazy busy with preparing the downstairs apartment at our rental property for new tenants (more on that further down).

Anyway, it's hard to come up with one cohesive thought today.  So, I'll just share some of the things that are on my mind...

1.  First of all, thank you so much to everyone who left such kind comments on my last post.  And, thank you for your prayers.  I'm waiting to receive an address so I can write my friend while she's in prison.  I'm looking forward to being able to write her, help her keep in touch with life out here, and hopefully to encourage her a bit.

2.  On Sunday, we visited our old church, New Hope Community Church.  It was the church that John and I were a part of for most of our married life...up until about a year ago.  At that point, we made the painful decision to look for another church.  

We loved our old church and our church family.  Unfortunately, for some reason, the numbers of people coming kept dropping.  The church had started out as pretty small to start with.  I can't say I remember there ever being a time that there were more than 100 people.  And, we loved that part of it.  We loved that we knew everyone and everyone knew us.  We really were a family.

Even when we started losing people we stayed because we truly felt we belonged there, that we had a place there, that we were called to be there.  But, as our children grew older, and the church became smaller and smaller we started to feel like it was time to move on.  

So, we learned a few weeks back that this past Sunday would be the last Sunday for New Hope.  And, we decided we wanted to be there for one last worship time with our old church family.  It was bittersweet.  We were saying a final good-bye to the church itself.  But, the people will always be part of us.

3.  As I mentioned earlier my husband has been busy at work this month at our rental property.  We purchased this property at the beginning of the summer.  (I plan to write a post sometime soon about how and why we started this venture).

Let's just say, it's been an education.  The 2-unit building had tenants at the time we purchased the property.  But, we chose not to renew the lease for our downstairs tenant.  We received multiple complaints about the tenant in the short time since we had bought it.  And, we learned that the police had been to approximately 14 domestic disturbance calls in the last 10 months at that location.  

The apartment was a wreck.  It reeked.  And, there was such a heaviness that you could sense when you walked in the front door.  Before my husband began any renovations he asked another man from our church to walk through the apartment with him in prayer.  So, together they prayed over the property - and that God would lead good tenants to it.

My husband (with the help of neighbors) has been working almost non-stop.  Fixing up the apartment is literally like another full-time job.  Everything has been completely repainted.  The bathroom needed an entirely new tub surround.  And, everything needed a thorough cleaning.  Plus, the termites and roaches needed to be evicted.

He's not quite finished, but he's getting there.  Now, when you walk into the apartment it's a completely different place.  It's so much brighter and is actually appealing.

Now, we are continuing to pray that God would lead the right tenants to us.  And, we are hoping to have tenants who could move in by Sept. 1.  

4.  We had a tornado warning for our area yesterday.  There were severe thunderstorms predicted, but then the news started reporting sightings of a funnel cloud and it was headed directly our way!  The only reason I even knew this is because my mother called me to tell me.  She is my own personal weatherman.

I took the kiddos to the basement.  I knew it probably wouldn't turn out to be anything.  But, I wanted to be safe.  If a tornado really did form, I might not have that much warning.  And, getting four children and a dog into the basement is something best done before it reaches crisis mode. (By the way, for those of you when you hear the word 'basement' pictured a finished basement with perhaps a rec room or a media space and are wondering what the big deal about going to the basement is..let me define 'basement'.  Our basement could actually be better called  a cellar.  We live in an old house.  The basement is dank, damp, dark, yukky, and to small children a little bit scary.)

While we were sitting down there, my 5 year old, Edison said to me, "Mom, what if something happened and me &Wyatt & Charlie & Joseph were OK, but you and daddy were dead?"  I was a little taken aback by his question.  But, I assured him that I was sure we were all going to be OK, but that if something ever did happen that he and his brothers would be well taken care of.

I also reminded him that Grandma and Grandpa S. live right down the hill.  They could always go to them in an emergency.  "Oh,"  said Edison "Would we go straight there, or should we pack a bag first?"  

It's so nice to know that in the event of an emergency Edison's first thoughts would be whether or not he had clothing to take with him.

5..  I'm ready for the structure that school will bring to our days.  And, I think my boys are ready for it too.  We're just trying to enjoy these last couple weeks and to check a few last items off our Summer List.  I hope you are enjoying the last bit of your summer as well!

Friday, August 13, 2010

When Prayers Are Answered Differently Than We Hoped

Today was tough.  A friend of mine was sentenced to, and began serving a one year sentence in prison.  It's a long story.  And, really I don't feel it's my place to share all the details.  She made a mistake.  She knows she did.  And she regrets it.

The really hard part is that she has 2 small children.  Now they will be shuttled between their daddy and both sets of grandparents.  I had the children today as my friend went in for her final court date.  We all knew that when she said good-bye to them at my house she might be saying good-bye for quite awhile.

We were all hoping that the judge would show her mercy and have her serve her sentence under house arrest.  But, he didn't.  She will serve her sentence in the county prison with no parole, no early release for good behavior.  The blessing here is that at least he didn't send her to the state penitentiary.

I've been praying over this whole situation for months and months.  And, I have to admit, I felt a sense of defeat and despair when I got the call from her mom letting me know what the judge ruled.  But, these are the verses that have been going through my mind today, speaking peace.

"Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:  He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.  Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him."  Psalms 37: 5-7


"Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.  Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep.  O Lord, you preserve both man and beast.  How priceless is your unfailing love!"
Psalms 36: 5-7

I know that God continues to work out his plan and purpose in my friend's life and in the lives of her children. I know that He is the Author of Life.  I know that He is with her.

I don't know why today worked out the way it did.  But I do know that God heard all of our prayers and that He is in control.

And so, I continue to pray.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My First Giveaway!!!

I am so excited to be able to bring a giveaway your way.  Recently a friend of mine came out with sets of greeting cards featuring her photography.

She has a site called Sally Belle Designs which showcases the different cards she currently has available.

I think these are super cute cards.  And, Sally has found such a beautiful & creative way to utilize those things she is passionate about.  Be sure to read her page on how she got started.

And this is a win-win for everyone.  Sally can get the word out there about her designs and you have the chance to win a set of her cards.  Here's what Sally is offering the winner...

 The winner can pick whichever set they like best. There are 8 cards in each set. The cards in each set are already chosen, except in the case of the knitters set. In that one, i have a whole bunch of different cards available and the winner (should they pick that set) can customize it...pick any 8 cards in the series they like.

So, here's what you can do for entries in the drawing...

1 entry to go to Sally Belle Designs, look over her cards, and leave a comment here telling me which is your favorite. (required)

1 entry for becoming a follower of Sally Belle Designs.  Leave a separate comment here to let me know that you did this.

1 entry for leaving a comment at Sally Belle Designs.  Again, leave a separate comment here to let me know.

All entries must be received by midnight Thursday, August 19, 2010.  The winner will be announced on Friday, Aug. 20.

Good luck!!

(P.S. - If you would be interested in purchasing any of Sally's designs, be sure to click on her Contact page.  Pricing and contact info is listed there)

I Really Will Post Again

I've taken, what, like four days off of posting?  And, I feel guilty.  Like I should sit down and write for crying out loud.

But, my days have been a bit crazy if I may say so.  I've been babysitting my friend's 2 little girls.  And, I have discovered that 6 children ages 7 and under is a bit daunting.  For me anyway.

I also feel like I'm operating a cafeteria.  Between meals and snacks - the prep & cleanup, it's all I can do to get out of the kitchen for a second.

Anyway, I just wanted to stop by at this crazy hour of almost midnight and let you know I really will post again.  Real posts.  About stuff.  Important stuff.

Which reminds me...check back again this week.  Because I'll be hosting my first ever giveaway!  I'm very excited.

Talk to you all soon!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Yard Sale Rules

My sister Lorinda, her friend Jen, and I had a yard sale today. It was held at Jen's house...about a 20 minute drive from my house. I had taken my items over last night and intended to get there early this morning to set them up.

However, getting 4 boys awake, dressed, fed, and out the door before 7 a.m. is quite a feat. We were running late. And, the yard salers were arriving before us.

But, that was OK because Lorinda & Jen were there and had at least pulled my boxes of stuff out where people could see them.

An early bird yard saler who was there before the sale was officially started pulled out one of my items I had priced at $10. This was originally an $80-100 item which I used once. Pretty much brand spankin' new.

She asked if she could give $3. So, as I'm driving to the sale with four sleepy boys in the van, I got a call from my sister asking if I would accept this woman's offer.

Um. NO! For one, the yard sale is just beginning. For two, negotiating is one thing. Lowballing someone is another. The woman continued to stand there and pretty much argue with my sister. She finally left (with my sister's cell phone number in hand) and said she'd call back later to see if it was still there.

When she called, it was gone. Sold for the (reasonable) asking price of $10. Lorinda said the lady sounded very disappointed and said, 'Oh, I was going to come back. That was a really good deal.'


So, here are my rules of yard saling. These are the ones I keep in mind when I'm out as a shopper and I think others should too....

1. If it's a yard sale for a charitable event and they are raising money for a cause...negotiating is tacky. Just pay what they are asking.

2. Never try to negotiate with someone within the first hour of a yard sale. Negotiating is much more effective and welcome as the day goes on.

3. Don't lowball someone. Asking to pay less than half of what they priced an item is insulting I think.

4. If it's an item less than $1, just pay what they ask. What is the point of asking if they'll take 25 cents for a 50 cent item? The only exception to this might be if you are buying several small items.

5. If there is a child with a lemonade/ cookie stand, always buy something from them!

There you have it. Maybe not everyone agrees with my yard sale etiquette, but I like these rules and I'm sticking with them!

Friday, August 6, 2010

21 Rules and Yay!

I followed a link from over at Like a Warm Cup of Coffee and that took me to these 21 Rules of our House.  I really want to print and post them at our house, but our printer is broken.  Hmmm.  Maybe I can forward them to hubby's work and have him print them.   Anyway, I think you should check them out.

I'm just tickled.  Chatty Mommy passed a bloggy award on to me.  Thank you Chatty Mommy!  If you haven't been to her blog, get on over there right now.  She's one witty blogger, and I love reading her posts!

This is the first time I've ever done a post about a bloggy award.  Months ago my friend, Kerri, of The Pleasures of My Life had given me a bloggy award.  But, I was a newbie at the time and didn't really do anything with the award.  But, now I have a better idea of what I'm supposed to do.

Ok - I'm supposed to....
  •   Acknowledge the award.
  •   Tell 7 things about myself.
  •   Pass it on.

Here are 7 random things about myself

1.  If I had ever had a little girl we originally had the name Karis Grace picked out.  More recently I liked the name Mercy Rae (Ray is my husband's middle name).  However, it does not appear that we will be using our girl's name. (unless God has any surprises in store for us).

2. I have my degree in elementary & early childhood education.  When my first son was born I was pretty gung ho about homeschooling.  Since adding 3 more boys, I'm pretty overwhelmed with life as it is...don't see myself adding homeschooling into the mix...for now.

3.  I can not stand olives.  Black olives in particular are just downright gross to me.

4.  As the recessional at our wedding we played the song, "Somewhere There's a Someone" by Dean Martin.

5.  I can do the Elvis lip curl.

6.  I tend to be a worrier. 

7.  One of my favorite songs of all-time is Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order

Now to pass on the award.  It's so hard to narrow it down to just a few, but here goes.

I could list so many more.  But, there you have it for this round.

Enjoy this weekend!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Beach 2010

We returned Monday night from a lovely extended weekend trip to the beach with friends of ours.  We were blessed to stay in a beautiful home in the private community of Prime Hook, Delaware.  The family we went with has family friends who own the house.  

The community is beyond a marshland nature preserve.  It consists of one road that runs about 2 miles.  And, there are houses on each side of the road.  One side is beachfront.  One faces the marshes.  That's it.  No stores, no hotels, no gas stations.  Only privately owned homes and one access road.

Our house faced the marshes.  This was the view from the balcony off our bedroom.

Because it's such a small community, there is almost no traffic and the beaches  are wide open.  Our first day there, we saw 2 other people in the 2 hours that we were at the beach.

The family we went with has 3 children - 2 girls and a boy.  Here's Thomas and Aurora.  Madeline will be in another picture further down in the post.

I'm usually not much of a beach girl...mainly because I don't do well in crowds.  But this I could get used to.   Standing on the beach looking to the left....

and to the right...

Here's Madeline helping out with Joseph.  She has quite the nurturing instinct and did so well with the baby.

My darling husband helped out quite a bit with the cooking.  As a matter of fact, one evening he and Mr. Matt handled the cooking AND corralled the children while Callie and I relaxed on the back deck.  

What in the world can that be?  What?  Where?

Quiet streets...

We took one day and went to the air museum in Dover.  

My husband had studied aviation mechanics and is something of an aeronautics buff.  He was quite the tour guide.

Here's a little tidbit of info for you all.  I'm quite the vintage gal.  At least I really used to be.  I used to swing dance, wear 40's/ 50's vintage clothes, collect vintage housewares.  Even though I don't do those things anymore...I still dig anything from the WWII era.

Planes, planes, planes.

Family photo attempt.  Please note Edison leaning against the copter sucking his thumb.

Mommy and boys photo attempt.  Please note Edison in the distant right.  (Yes.  My legs are really that white.)

Overall it was a wonderful time for our two families to be together playing and relaxing.

Going home...
Children sleep.

Husbands get grumpy driving behind slow moving trucks in stop & go traffic through towns with no bypass that are known for growing mushrooms (and you know what mushrooms grow in....soooo there's an odor).

And mommies get bored and find ways to entertain themselves.  Can you identify which picture goes with which emotion? (perplexed, excited, bored, sleepy, upset, surprised)

By the way, seeing as how I put some highly unflattering shots of myself on here for your amusement, I think this week everyone should post at least one unflattering picture of themselves on their blog.  I'm just sayin'.
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