Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Doing the Baby2 Nursery Scramble

Not looking like a nursery. Nope, not a bit.
We found out last week that Baby2 will be arriving early--I'll be induced the week of Thanksgiving so we've only got eight weeks left to get everything ready rather than nine. The doctor even pointed this out to me when I mentioned we haven't finished the nursery yet.

Ok, it's really not even started. I know what I want to put in the nursery, we just don't have it all yet and nothing is complete. There's a big pile of baby things I have gotten along with guest room stuff, Christmas presents for M2 and who knows what else in there. Not to mention all the stuff crammed in the closet, from my wedding dress to toiletries. That means A and I are going to be super busy getting it all done so Baby2 has some place to sleep other than a dresser drawer in a guest room. And so that what is in there now has a new home elsewhere in the house.

Baby2's nursery theme is nautical. We know that much at least! Ships, boat gear (is "gear" the right word for boat-related stuff?), sea critters, beach stuff--if it's water-related, it fits in. I want it to feel calm yet fun. Nursery yet not too babyish, something that will last awhile. M2 still loves her nursery, which is an animal theme.

We have a lamp! I love the cute boats.
Last week, we finally picked out a stack of possible paint colors (probably about 30) that we need to narrow down to 4 to test on the walls. M2 and I eliminated four so far. Anything she didn't like, she happily ripped up and threw around the living room. The color is going to be beachy, but not blue as we have too much of that in the house already. The room is at the end of the hall so we also want it to blend in enough that it's not jarring but still have it's own style. I love the color we have in the room now. Sadly, it's too pink to fit for a boy or a nautical theme!

Once we paint, we need to get a crib, decorations, diaper pail, hamper, etc. Plus a rug to cover M2's bleach toilet cleaner carpet art.  I also need to find a wooden letter of Baby2's first initial to paint, a tradition I started with M2's big pink glittery M. Baby2's shelf is one A's dad made him when he was a kid. The changing table was M2's and the bookcase was my aunt's so those we have. Good friends gave us a chest of drawers this weekend as well, checking that off the needed-items list. We have some blankets, sheets, clothes, a lamp and a few things to decorate the room that belonged to A's mom and A. As you can tell, I like to incorporate furniture and items that have meaning and belonged to people we care about. It makes it feel more special. M2's room and the rest of the house is the same. I love the look of mixing old with new.

By the way, we do have a name picked for Baby2 but are waiting until he's born to share it with family and friends. For the blog, he'll get a special nickname like the rest of us have.
There's no crib yet, but Baby2 has adorable sheets I got on sale.
M2 picked and LOVES the blanket on the left. It's her present for her new brother.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Product Review: Ion Dry Shampoo

I've been wanting to try dry shampoo for awhile now, but I was hesitant to buy it because unless my hair is super short, all product seems to weigh it down. I have a LOT of hair, but it is very, very fine, and doesn't hold up well to anything - gel, hairspray, nada. But when I went to Sally's on Wednesday to pick up some dye, I renewed my membership and got the choice of $5 off any Ion product. I decided that this was the perfect time to try the dry shampoo, because it would only cost me $0.49!

I put it on this morning, before we went to the zoo, and it was great. I followed the directions, spraying lightly on my roots from about 6" away. Then I used my fingers to "massage" it in (remember that word zshudge or however it is spelled? LOL), and BAM! UP WENT MY HAIR! Guys, I can't even explain how limp my hair is, and how much volume one little spray of this dry shampoo gave me. It was awesome.

So of course after 47 seconds of walking around the zoo, I was sweating... I mean, glowing. Whatever, my hair was getting damp. I ran my fingers through my roots again and BAM! UP WENT MY HAIR! So. Freaking. Awesome. This stuff lasted all day, and I can still feel it on there. (Don't worry, I'll be showering in the morning hehehe!)

Bottom line, if you want to try dry shampoo, try Ion. Every product I've ever tried has been wonderful, and this is no exception. For under $6, I don't think you can go wrong!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

My favorite season is autumn, followed literally and figuratively by winter. I love the cool, crisp weather, the changing of the leaves, and the fact that I can finally breathe again because my allergies have subsided (at least until March!).

Here in Ohio, there are tons of trees to look at. We have a big one in the front yard, and all our neighbors have big trees in their yards, too. You might think that would make raking a chore, but it really isn't. I run over the leaves with the lawnmower, and leave the clippings to nourish the grass under the snow during the winter. Saves time, energy, and money on fertilizer!
There are plenty places to visit if you don't have the privilege of living in an area with beautiful, mature trees. You can hit up the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to find the best spots to do your "leaf peeping".

Dress up your kid!
Another great fall activity is apple picking and pumpkin patch visits. These days are SO much fun for all members of the family! You can choose your own pumpkins to eat, carve, or display, find the biggest, most delicious apples, and pick up tasty treats like apple cider, caramel apples, pumpkin pie, funky gourds, and more! A lot of the farms have corn mazes, hay bale mazes, and fun ways to get pumpkins such as "get as many as you can carry for $20!" Often, when it gets closer to Hallowe'en, the farms will have special spooky events, hayrides, and even bouncy castles. A day at the farm is also one of the best opportunities for family photos. The scenery is beautiful and classic, and the kids are likely to be in a great mood! Here in Central Ohio we have Lynd's, Circle S, and Jaquemin, to name a few.

Most major cities have a local zoo, and Columbus is lucky enough to have one of the top zoos in the United States. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium does quite a few fall holiday events, including Animal Encounters every weekend (you can pet exotic and local wildlife!), Fall Fest, Colo's Car Show, pumpkin carving competitions, and the grande finale to the Fall Season, Boo at the Zoo! If you have a membership, like we do, you can attend all the special events for free. A family (two parents plus X number of kids) membership is less than $100, and it pays for itself for a family of four in less than two visits. The zoo is open year-round, except Thanksgiving and Christmas, and every season and almost every weekend brings tons of fun activities and events for free. There are also special members-only, adults-only, and after-hours events that are a separate cost from zoo membership/admission. I've never been to one of those yet, but I have heard great things about them. I think the best part is that most, if not all, of the extra special events benefits some kind of local charity!

Hallowe'en 2011
Hallowe'en 2012
Hallowe'en 2012
Of course, the crowning moment of fall, for me, is Hallowe'en! I absolutely love love love Hallowe'en. I have always been into the spooky, the macabre, the Gothic, the noir side of things. Black cats, bats, and things that go bump! in the night are what I truly enjoy. I like the pumpkins and apples and beautiful colors, but when grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize, my heart starts pumping and adrenaline starts coursing through my veins! I might act like a wimp, but I love to be scared. I especially love to see creative costumes on trick-or-treaters, from silly to scary... especially scary!  This year I'm going to be hosting a Hallowe'en party for kids at our house, and I am so excited! I love Hallowe'en! Last year Poke and I went as "Dia de los Hipsters", and I did the makeup for us. JI was a skeleton, and I hand-painted his costume and did his makeup too! I love it! This year, JI wants to be the Newspaper Zombie from Plants vs. Zombies, and I will be a regular pregnant mommy with a zombie baby trying to escape. Yes.

Autumn doesn't end with Hallowe'en, because we still have a month until Thanksgiving. For those 4ish weeks, I spend my time taking down the scary stuff and putting up the festive fall decor, and relaxing. I'll be doing a lot of relaxing this year because by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, I'll be about 7 months pregnant! My mom always cooks for Thanksgiving, and Poke will have to work again this year, so JI and I will just head over to my parents' place for the big meal. And that, my friends, will conclude my favorite season. Yay!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ways to be a Good Online Yard Sale Seller

My last post (here) was about what to do to be a good buyer on online yard sales. It goes both ways, though. You've got to be a good seller, too. Here are some of the things I've come up with to be a good seller. I'd love for you to chime in with a comment about what you'd add to this list or with a story. Stories are always fun to read.
  1. List the price and size. Don't make people ask, you'll probably lose buyers because they don't want to waste their time trying to find out. Also, don't lie about the size. It doesn't even make sense to and there's no reason for it.
  2. Include/offer pictures or price accordingly. When you sell online, people are buying stuff sight unseen. At least post, or offer, pictures so people have an idea what they're getting. If you're not going to give pictures, such as saying, "here's a big bag of random clothes!" at least offer a good, honest, description and price it lower since people have no idea what in the world is really in that bag.
  3. Be honest. If something is horribly stained, broken or damaged, don't sell it. Don't try to pass something off as being in better condition than it is. If you're selling a huge bunch of clothes, for example, and a couple have little stains price it lower. When someone asks a question about an item, tell the truth! Also, if an item is cross posted, say so in your ad. I doubt you'd want to buy a toaster that doesn't even heat up. I really don't think your buyer will want to, either.
  4. Show up/don't back out last minute. When you set a time and place to meet, show up. Don't make the buyer wait 10, 15, 20 minutes for you, either. The buyer is taking their time to meet you, don't waste their time by flaking out on them. If you're not going to be able to meet, don't tell the buyer you can. If there's a chance you can't meet, tell the buyer up front so they can decide if they want to bother with it. Don't waste their time. If an emergency does come up and you can't meet the buyer, tell them right away. Apologize and offer to meet at another time that is convenient for them. Try to make it right. There have been a few times that I've gone to buy an item and the seller wasn't there, didn't notify me and never even bothered to answer my message asking what had happened. 
  5. List the pickup location. If you're not willing to drive to wherever your seller is, say up front in your ad where pickup is. That way you're not wasting a buyer's time, getting them excited about an item, only for them to find out it's way too far to drive. It'll also save you the hassle of having to answer a million questions about the location. If you don't list the location, you pretty much deserve those million questions.
  6. Be upfront about meeting times. When you're at the point of setting up a time and place to meet, tell the buyer the days and times you're available. Don't make them suggest a million different times that you're just going to shoot down. 
  7. Get back to people. If an item has already sold, tell the person. If they're next in line, let them know that. If their offer is way too low, tell them (nicely!) what price you can do. Get back to them in a timely manner as well. Don't make them wait days. If you do, you'll probably also lose the sale along with being rude. Also remember to delete your ad once something sells, then you won't have to worry about getting back to someone.
  8. If you say it must be gone ASAP, be more flexible. If you want an item gone right away, be willing to meet buyers right away. Don't turn around and tell them you can't meet for a week after you said the item has to be gone NOW.
  9. Bring change or tell the buyer exact cash only. Don't expect buyers to always have exact change. Not everyone has dominations for every combination hanging about their wallet. If you need exact cash, tell the buyer so. Before you meet them. Don't cause an awkward situation when you meet by not having change.
  10. If an item needs a dolly, large vehicle, someone to lift it, say so. When you sell a large item, let people know how big it is in the ad, what type of vehicle they'll need, and if they need to lift it. It's annoying for you both if they show up only to find out they can't meet these requirements because you didn't tell them. Staring at a coach that won't fit in the buyer's SUV just makes them see red and you're not going to see the green.
  11. Send a reminder. The day before you're scheduled to meet the buyer, send them a nice reminder/confirmation of pickup day, time, location along with the item and agreed price. People are busy and it shouldn't be the buyer's job to track you down to confirm.
  12. Be fair. Give the buyer a fair amount of time to pick up the items. Try to work with them on pickup day/time. Don't commit to one buyer and dump them if another offers more money. Go in the order of people who expressed interest and give them a chance to respond to you. Don't skip Sally because you like Debbie's name better. Being fair also means pricing items reasonably. Don't try to sell something that's worth $5 for $10. It just annoys everyone and you aren't going to be able to sell it anyway.
And, as with buying, Treat others how you want to be treated. Consider things from the buyer's side. I doubt you'd want a buyer to not show up, cancel last minute, ignore your messages, be rude to you, etc. I also doubt you'd want to buy something just to find out it's not useable or not what was in the picture. Don't do it to someone else.

Ways to be a Good Online Yard Sale Buyer

Online yard (or tag) sales are taking the place of the traditional yard sales left and right. Tons of these sites can be found on Facebook. You can sell almost anything to clear out your house and make some money. You'll also find some really good deals on things you need, including kid's clothes and toys.

I've been a member of a few sale groups for awhile and have family and friends who also participate. Right now, I'm seeing what selling is like first hand while selling M2's out-grown clothes. Baby2's nursery furniture, decor and clothes add up and we needed the extra cash to help pay for it. Plus, M2's old clothes were taking up space as I still had everything of hers from newborn to now.

You'd be amazed how many people "forget" they were buying an item, don't read the ad, have you hold an item and then back out last minute, say they have no money yet still want you to give them the items, suddenly have no money after setting a price/pickup time/location yet are buying from others, etc. There were so many emergencies, fires and family members dying that I started to wonder if there was an epidemic I hadn't heard about raging through the area. There are, of course, sales that went off without a hitch and very nice people that I met. It wasn't all bad. I really appreciate those people and hope a good deal helped them out, too.

Armed with the knowledge of what I and others have experienced, I thought I'd share some ways to be a good buyer. Following these rules will help make a better sale experience for everyone. Seriously, none of use want to be one of "those" people, do we? After reading, feel free to comment with some of your own to add. I'd love to hear your stories.

  1. Read the ad. If the ad says where the meeting location is, that the price is firm, lot will not be broken up, etc., pay attention to that. Wasting the seller's time asking a million questions and for more pictures, then telling them, "Oh, that's too far for me to go,"  "I'll give you $1 (when they asked for a firm $10)," or saying you only want 2 of the 10 items in the not-to-be-broken-up lot doesn't go over well. Be respectful of the seller's, and your, time.
  2. Serious inquiries only. If you're not seriously interested in the item and planning to buy it, don't waste the seller's time asking lots of questions, for more pictures, to change pickup location, etc. There's really no point in it. 
  3. Don't low ball. If a seller has a price listed, that tells you the price range they'll take for the item. Knocking off a few bucks from the asking price (if it doesn't say firm) is expected. Offering way below is insulting and the seller probably won't take you seriously. If you're not willing to pay within the range of the listed price, look elsewhere. 
  4. Avoid giving a sob story. Giving the seller a sob story about why you must have the item, at an insultingly low price and have them drive two hours to drop it off gift-wrapped at your doorstep isn't a good idea. If you don't have the money for the item or can't pick it up, don't try to guilt the seller into giving it to you and/or dropping it off. You may have a good reason why you can't spend more and/or can't go to a certain location, but the seller has set that price and pickup location for a reason. Realize the seller may be in just as bad of a situation and selling so they can pay for needed items for their child/sick aunt/neighbor who is on hard times. Guilting the seller just makes them feel bad that they can't help you. And sure as heck don't make it up! I think all but one or two people of about 25 haven't given me a sob story. At this point, it's hard to believe anyone anymore. 
  5. Show up when you say you will. When you agree to a time and location, show up. It's that simple. Don't not show up or show up late, expecting the seller to wait. It wastes the seller's time and gas. The seller likely had to make arrangements to meet you, they have lives, too. If the seller has to try to track you down to find out where you were after waiting, that's not cool. Should you accidentally forget, contact the seller right away, apologize, and offer to get the items in the near future at a time convenient for the seller. You messed up and need to make it right. 
  6. No holds. If you can't pick up the item in a few days, don't expect the seller to hold if for you for a week or two weeks. If they are kind enough to do that, don't then back out last minute. The seller was counting on you and may have lost a sale while you were tying them up. If you can't pick up an item soon, you can ask the seller to keep you in mind if it's still available. Be sure to start out with that, though, don't hide the fact. One woman asked me to hold items for three weeks after saying she really wanted it and negotiating price, pick up time and location!
  7. Buy the items you commit to buying/don't back out last minute. Even worse, don't have the seller have to contact you to find out you've changed your mind and wasted their time. Honor the commitment you made. I've had at least half the people who committed to buying items back out last minute. Only one bothered to contact me, the rest I had to contact. After flaking out once, one person set up another pickup time (a last-minute no notice thing), then tried to guilt me into taking less money when I'd already knocked a lot off for her on top of all the rest.
  8. If something comes up, notify the seller immediately. If you do have an actual emergency (don't lie about it!) let the seller know right away. Not showing up or having the seller try to confirm then you tell them is plain rude. Be sure to apologize and offer to get the item in the near future at a time convenient for the seller, or if you can no longer get it, let them know. Try to make the situation right.
  9. Be willing to meet at the specified pickup location. This goes back to reading the ad. If the ad doesn't say what the pickup location is, ask. If you don't know where that location is, Google it first. If you could meet in a nearby location, it's ok to ask if the seller would be able to do that. Just don't bother them with questions, asking for a lower price, more pictures, etc., then bring up the location issue. It just wastes your time and the seller's. It also makes the seller less inclined to help you since you weren't up front with them.
  10. Pay the agreed upon price. Agreeing on the price then asking the seller to go lower is a big no-no.
  11. Apologize. If you do screw up, apologize. Don't blow it off or act like the seller should just be ok with it.
  12. If you say you'll get back to someone, get back to them. It's already annoying when you ask for possible pickup times, set a location, agree on a price, then say you'll get back to the seller. It's even more annoying when you never do.
This one is so important it doesn't get a number. Treat others how you want to be treated. This is a big and should go without saying. Instead of just thinking of yourself, think of the seller, too. Would you like it if they didn't show up or cancelled last minute? All of a sudden raised the price on you? Wasted your time? Listed an item for sale but can't meet for a week or more? If you wouldn't be ok with it, don't do it to someone else. It'll make the world a happier place to buy and sell.

Sidenote: Sellers need to do their part, too! Here are things you can do to be a good seller.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Back to School!

So we're about one month into the school year for JI, and things are going swimmingly. The teachers just came for the first home visit (we get about 3-4 every school year), and they are quite pleased with how things are happening with JI.

Last year, school for JI meant that he was just past his 2nd birthday, one of the oldest in the class, and one of the "least disabled" in the class. His classmates had disabilities and delays ranging from Autism to SPD to physical disabilities, and they were all different races and religions. The one thing that they all had in common was that they were all boys, except for one girl! Of course she became JI's little girlfriend; they sat next to each other (in assigned seats) on the bus and held hands. 

That girl is in JI's class this year too, where he is one of two non-disabled/delayed "peers". The ratio of boys to girls is a little closer, and he's one of the few 3 year olds in a class where there are some "young 5s" (which apparently is a thing now?). Poke takes JI to school every day (unless I have a morning appointment), and I pick him up from school. The teachers always give me a quick update on how things are going, what happened that day, etc. 

Yesterday we talked about JI's personality, and how they feel, as I do, that he is very smart and quite advanced for his age. Luckily both teachers are happy about this (I've heard of teachers feeling like the special kid is a burden) and they are actually going to get some tools/resources specifically for JI to use so he can learn and grow. The "problem" with JI is that he is three, but he's functioning at a five year old level, or possibly higher, and he gets very bored with regular three year old preschool stuff. They noticed that even the questions he asks and the ways he plays are advanced for his age. I'm so proud!

So here is the wonderful stuff so far:
  • JI has made a friend! This kid loves to involve JI in everything, from playing to going potty LOL JI helps him with his numbers and letters, and the kid keeps JI on track with bathroom breaks.
  • JI is improving immensely with his behaviour, both at school and at home. The teachers use the "1...2...3..." style of warning, which I have been working on for like a year, and it is finally kicking in.
  • JI is good with his warning, which means less time outs. He's never had one at school, and using the 123 has kept him from being in time out too much at home. The teachers use the phrase "calm your body", which JI has never needed, so I might be implementing that if we need it!
  • They have an ipad in the classroom, which JI earns the right to use very often. He is already doing Kindergarten math, letter tracing, and word/letter games and acing them! I downloaded "Monkey Math" on the Google Play store for $1.99, which is one he uses at school, and he has already passed about six levels.

There's more, but I'll spare you the mushy details. He's just a better version of himself overall, and he's even gone back to being completely daytime potty trained! That's my favorite!

Overall, I'm very pleased. The only thing that needs worked on is his speech, which is not a surprise to me at all. Hopefully the speech evaluation next week will give us some kind of path on which to go with that! The best part of JI being in school is that he gets to learn new things and be in new situations, and I get a three hour break!