November 16, 2014

Welcome to Baby2's Finished Nursery

Baby2's nursery finally got finished last night. I wasn't sure we'd do it before he came, but we did! And it. looks. awesome. (If I do say so myself.) I adore how it all turned out. It took a week longer than expected as all our free time to work in here last week got taken up having to fight with Verizon to get me a new cell phone after mine died. That's a long story of a two-day ordeal for another time. 

Without further delay, welcome to Baby2's nursery! I'll take you around on a tour picture by picture. If there is an item I bought and can link to, it's linked for you. You can also click on any photo for a larger view.


Here is the view from the door. The 5' by 7' rug covered up all M2's bleach art. I worried how it would look. It really adds something to the room to bring it together. The walls are painted in Beach Blanket by Valspar, as mentioned in this post. We got the new, top-of-the-line paint that's not supposed to fade and should be easy to clean. 

                            

The panorama view gives you a better idea of the whole room. The blue spot is Baby2's special initial that I painted. It's blued out for now since we don't want to share his name (or clues!) until his arrival. There's a big empty spot between the bed and door where a toy box of some sort will end up.



The Davinci Kalani crib in cherry is awesome. M2 has the same one. Our niece has the Kalani in Espresso. It's a great bed that converts to a toddler bed then full-size head and foot boards. The mattress is the Davinci Emily that M2 and our niece have. M2 picked the sheet. It's Target Circo brand I found during a big sale and mentioned in another nursery post.

What you can't see is the American Baby organic cotton mattress cover underneath. That thing is awesome! It's so soft, fits well, is waterproof and has no icky vinyl making the added cost worth it. It should help keep baby warmer in the winter as well. We had another brand for M2 that didn't quite cut it. It was thin, had vinyl and didn't quite fit. After trying out one for Baby2, I ordered one as a back up and one for M2. I hung them all to dry in order to avoid any shrinkage. I want one for our bed!

The soother is a Fisher-Price rain forest one my mom found for Baby2. The pictures above the crib are from Amazon by BedTime Originals and fit the nautical theme perfectly. I may adjust how they're spaced out, I'm not sold on this arrangement yet.



The chest and changing table corner. I painted the anchor on the wall. It's made of heavy duty cardboard. All it took was buying the anchor at the craft store, getting some antiqued gold paint, a soft sponge brush and about an hour to put on three coats of paint. The frame next to it will showcase Baby2's hand and footprints. The frame on the dresser waits for the birth announcement. Info on the lamp is in a previous post.

The changing pad covers don't quite fit the theme. The animals are from M2's theme. Since they're really nice ones and are so soft, we're reusing them rather than buying new ones simply to fit the theme. I don't think you can even buy these anymore. When I looked for a link, nothing came up.

The changing table itself was M2's. I couldn't have lived without it, it's one of the "must have" items on my list for new parents. The fabric cubes are from Target and hold toys, wipes and diapers. I went through all M2's toys, pulling out the baby ones and putting them in these cubes so they're easy to get to. There's also a basket you can't quite see in this shot for all his blankets.


Above the changing table are cute canvas art I found on Amazon and nautical-related Bosson heads that belonged to A's mom. Notice the pirate on the top right giving the fisherman to his left the side eye.


Another view of the crib corner. The curtains are Eclipse blackout curtains for nap time and to keep the heat in during winter. We already had them in the room. Since they match, they stay. I couldn't find tiebacks I liked so went to Michael's. They had some nifty ribbon that matches the room and makes easy tiebacks.

Again, the blue cube is blocking out the painted initial. Above it is a plaque M2 picked that says, "Twinkle twinkle little star, do you know how loved you are?" During a family shopping trip at a local craft store for baby room items, I picked it up. As soon as M2 saw it, she grabbed and hugged it. A pretty clear sign she wanted it for her brother. She kept going in his room to look at it before it was put up.


The bookcase corner includes a shelf set that A's dad made. A had it in his room as a kid. Everything on it, including the bookcase itself, (minus the monitor and nightlight) is a special item that belonged to A, his mom, me or my aunt. My aunt made the ceramic piggy bank at the bottom for me when I was about 6 years old. The frame at the top is being saved for something special. The middle shelf and bottom will soon be stuffed with books. I just haven't put them there yet. To be honest, I totally forgot about the books until now.

                     

This little guy is the nightlight on the bookcase. I love it so had to give him some extra attention with his own picture! I almost got a moon until this KinderGlo portable dragon popped up as just being available. You can set it to change colors (you can see it glowing in the bookcase corner pic) or to stay on one color. He's rechargeable and comes off the base. M2 has an elephant she adores. It's come in handy at night when I check on her or have to change a diaper. Instead of turning on a bright light, I nudge her elephant. Enough light is provided without waking up a baby.

Next to Puff the Magic Dragon lives the Angel Care Deluxe Plus monitor. We use the same for M2 and love it. Video monitors don't really work for us since I'd constantly be looking at it to be sure the baby was ok. The Angel Care beeps if baby stops breathing for any period of time. It's not fool proof and the usual safety measures should be taken. I still slept better having it as a back up. With one in each nursery, we've gotten no weird feedback so far from either monitor.


One final panorama of the room looking toward the door. All we need now is the baby boy to put in the crib.




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November 5, 2014

Baby2 and M2 Update

Nursery!
Baby2's room completion is near! A and I cleaned out the closet and rearranged ours to fit some of the stuff in there this past weekend. I then got the nursery closest all organized with the swing, hamper, wipes, diapers, humidifier, etc., that we will be needing to have on hand. A put together M2's cubby storage shelving as well. It's still in the nursery until we swap it with the changing table soon. All the fabric cubes are ready to go on the changing table, I got them organized with wipes, diapers, toys, accouterments, blankets and more. Baby2's hospital bag is ready to go as well. Mine is just a list right now as I realized all the stuff I plan to pack I'm actually using. If I pack it, I wouldn't have what I need now! That'd be rather pointless.

All the extra furniture and lamps have been taken out of the nursery. Some books and random things remain but that'll be easy to clean up. I also painted the anchor wall hanging and Baby2's large initial wall hanging so those are ready to go up. The rest of the room decor arrives tomorrow. This weekend, all of that gets put up and I'll put the finishing touches on the room. That leaves yard work, car maintenance, present wrapping, Christmas decorating, house cleaning and some other random things on my to-do list for next week and the week after. There are only three weeks left. Knock on wood, I think everything might actually get done!

Presents!
M2's Christmas and birthday present situation is all sorted. The last of her gifts arrive tomorrow. I've made a list of what she is getting for each. She'll also be getting a small gift from Baby2 when he comes home from the hospital. It's an adorable Melissa and Doug Christmas tree puzzle I found at Kohl's. It's this one. It looks even nicer in person than on the page. M2 saw it when it first arrived. I had to wrestle it away from her as she wanted it right then. She got the Melissa and Doug advent tree decoration/toy, so that distracted her. That is also adorable! It's better than I expected and M2 is loving decorating and taking apart the tree. The ornaments are all so cute with beautiful designs. It's a good size, too. It should last us for years. It's sold out already. Reading the reviews, it's an item that goes fast each year. I can see why! You can still get it on Amazon for a bit more. Check it out here.

Speech!
The therapy for M2's speech delay was finalized last week. Now, we're just waiting to hear from the speech therapist on setting up her first appointment. She'll be doing twice a month to start. Her coordinator thinks she'll pick up on things and progress fast as she's developing fine everywhere else and shows the signs they look for to know the child will pick up the concepts. We're hoping with hard work from her, A and me that she'll be right on track within a year if not less.

Halloween!
She didn't want to wear her hood inside!
Ready to monkey around.



















Halloween was lots of fun. We started out visiting my best friend since high school and his wife. M2 loved that we ordered pizza and she got to watch some cartoons Mama wouldn't usually allow. It was then off to see other good friends and celebrate. One went trick-or-treating with us. M2 got the hang of going door-to-door quickly. She loved knocking and waiting for the door to open. Her costume was a monkey and A was a giant banana. I didn't dress up (hardly any of my clothes fit anymore, let alone a costume!) I did manage to walk around to each house. I'd thought after a few I'd be ready to fall over in pain. Stopping at the end of the drives to take a break while M2 went to the door helped. She was so excited and adorable walking along with her glow sticks and kitty cat candy pail. Sadly, our friends are moving cross country next year so this was our last Halloween with them. It's been a tradition the past 6 years or so to spend it with them so it's like the end of an era. We'll have to find trick-or-treating closer to home instead.


Doctors!
Baby2 has had a few doctor appointments (ok, I had the appointments and he got checked out, with no choice but to come along). He's growing fast. I'm measuring about 3.5-4 weeks ahead, which means right now I feel like I'm at 40 weeks. Driving has gotten hard so A has become my driver. My thyroid is acting up so I saw a specialist for that. He doesn't think Baby2 is being affected and I'm handling the symptoms ok, so we're holding off on meds. I'll be doing blood work often and after Baby2 is born we'll be looking into other testing. It's pretty complicated with many ways it could go as my thyroid is all sorts of screwy. There's a small change it'll go back to normal after Baby2 is born. I'm really hoping it does! There are some other worrisome health issues going on. Those I'm not ready to share yet. I've got more testing for that next week, along with the final ultrasound before Baby2's arrival.

Suspense!
Next week, I'll post pictures of the finished nursery. I was tempted to this week then decided we're so close to it being done I'd rather do a big reveal. You'll have to deal with the suspense until then. I'll also show off the easy painted wall hanging I did and explain it--it's sooo easy! The initial one will have to wait until we reveal his name after birth. I will say I am LOVING how the room looks!

October 26, 2014

What's for Dinner?

In all the chaos, weekly meal planning has fallen by the wayside. (Chaos and food aversions coming back!) I'm going to try again for this week. You'll probably notice the theme of easy-to-cook comfort foods. I don't have much energy to cook and am craving the comfort foods so that's why.

Sunday
Slow cooked marinated pork tenderloin, mashed potatoes and veggies

Monday
Mac and cheese, chicken nuggets and green salad

Tuesday
Steak, three grain salad and veggies

Wednesday
Leftovers

Thursday
Soup and grilled cheese.

Friday
Pizza

Saturday
Spaghetti and green salad

Baby2 Nursery and M2 Weekly Update

The crib is now put together and the rug is out. That's about it for this week. We were too busy going to doctor appointments 1-2 hours away Thursday and Friday, continuing with M2's speech evaluations, Christmas shopping, birthday shopping and I've been tired.

Sales, sales, sales.
At least the Christmas and M2's birthday gift shopping is almost done. Amazon and Kohl's online are a lifesaver this year. Almost everything is coming from there and both already have great deals. Hurray for coupons and discounts! Another hurray for not having to wander stores endlessly while tired looking for gifts!

Almost ready to wrap.

I'll be wrapping all the presents the week before Baby2 is set to arrive. I'm one of those crazy people everyone complains about this year, shopping early and enjoying decorations that are already up. I wish they were all up,really, as we won't get a chance to see much of them since Baby2 will have us hopping. Next year I'll be back on the, "Why are there Christmas items in the stores before Halloween?!" bandwagon.

More doctor appointments?! Yikes.
To add more to the list of already crazy busy and stressful, I found out my thyroid has gone screwy. The ob/gyn did blood tests which came back abnormal. She then did some more and got more not-good results. The endocrinologist said he doesn't think it's pregnancy related. Thyroids just don't do what mine is during pregnancy. The ob/gyn and endocrinologist are both concerned so I'll have an appointment this week (2 hours away again, oh fun!) to start looking into that. It would seem a high heart rate and heat intolerance aren't normal pregnancy symptoms. Instead, it's from the thyroid going wonky. The weight gain, over what is normal for pregnancy, is also probably related. The downside is the options of how to treat it are more limited until after Baby2 is born. None of them are fun options even then.

M2's full speech evaluation went well. The therapists said she's very smart and observant. On everything else the ladies tested her for, including comprehension, she's on track or ahead. We just need to get her to use her words! Even for the speech part, she's not as far behind as we thought, coming in at 15-17 months when she's 22 months old. The speech therapist agreed it's best to intervene now before she gets farther behind. Along with my thyroid and prenatal appointments this upcoming week, we'll be meeting with M2's service coordinator for the final complete evaluation report and to get the speech therapy appointments set up. Ideally, we'll have at least one session before Baby2 arrives. We'll see, since we're insanely busy and the therapist's schedule fills up fast as well.

For M2's fun activity of the week, she and I went to the library's Halloween festival. There were stories, songs, goody bag decorating and trick-or-treating with story book characters. M2 wasn't impressed. She made it through the songs and stories, barely. After that, I asked if she wanted to do the rest or leave. I got my answer as she ran out the door, around the edge of the library, to the front doors, was hunting for the special needs door button, and then ran out to the car saying, "Go! Go! Go!" She even ran past baskets of candy. The kid just did NOT want to be there! She looked darn cute in her monkey costume, though!
Getting ready for trick or treat. (No, this isn't our house. ;) )
With doctor appointments taking up a full day this week, M2's speech appointment, Halloween with friends, pumpkin carving, house cleaning, continuing with Baby2's nursery and more, this next week is going to be another busy one. My goal is to at least give you all a weekly update these next few weeks. There are only 4 to go until Baby2 arrives! Hopefully, there will be enough finished with the nursery next week to make it worth posting update photos.

October 19, 2014

Baby2's Room: Bright and Beachy

A and I finally picked out a paint color and he painted Baby2's room this week as musical couches was completed with the donation pickup. We went with Valspar's beach blanket color to keep the room colorful, light and airy while being in line with the nautical/sea theme. It also goes with the rest of the colors in the house to keep the peaceful, relaxing vibe going. We splurged and got the new top-of-the-line paint with zero VOCs that's easily washable. It needs to hold up and last a long time so we thought it's worth the extra bucks. With the paint up, a trip to Walmart yielded a turquoise and white rug that will go down once we carpet clean the whole house.
Fresh beach blanket color paint. 
M2's contribution is a twinkle twinkle little star wall hanging. She grabbed it at the store and loved it so into Baby2's room it goes! What's a nautical theme without some stars to guide you, right? I also got an anchor decoration to paint and hang. One of our family traditions is my painting a big wooden letter of the new baby's first initial to put up on the wall. I haven't found one I like yet though I've got a few ideas on colors. M2's was pink and glittery. Her room didn't have much pink so it became a girly statement piece.

All the other wall decorations have been picked. I plan to buy them off Amazon this week, along with all Baby2's and M2's birthday and Christmas presents. I want everything done at least a week before Baby2 arrives so I don't have to deal with it! Gamma and Gampa will send the new crib and mattress soon as well. As deliveries come in, I'll be hanging and A will be building. M2's room is getting a slight re-do as well--the changing table it coming out of her room to go to the new baby and she's getting a set of cubbies for her toys and treasures instead.

Now, to get the closet cleaned out and reorganized so I can wash all the baby clothes, blankets, bibs, burp cloths, etc., and get them put away. Not to mention the big pile of stuff that needs to clean out of the room and all the books and knickknacks to take off the bookcase. The laundry hamper and diaper pail need to be selected. In other words, (as you can see from the picture) there is still a ton to do and not very much time to do it in since there is only about 5 weeks to go! Our next two weeks are packed with other appointments and activities (Halloween fun!) which eats up even more time. The to-do list of non-baby before-baby items is long as well. If you don't see many posts from me, that is why.

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October 9, 2014

A Quick Update: M2's Speech and Baby2

This week has been busy with kid-related appointments and having my parents in town visiting. One of the big appointments was to get M2's speech intervention rolling.

M2's Speech Development
M2 isn't quite where she should be speech-wise. She understands everything, has ways to get her points across, she just won't use words most of the time. Except for a select few, the words she does know she refuses to use often. A and I have been working with her doing everything we can think of to no avail. The pediatrician said we could either start looking into therapy now, or wait until she turns 2. However, when she turns 2 is just after Baby2 is born. Taking that into account, we decided to start intervention now.

When asked what the next step is to get her help, the doctor very helpfully only said to "call the county." The county very helpfully only has info on getting assistance with speech for kids 3 and over. After some research and asking around at library time, I found a place not too far away that specializes in therapy for under age 3 only. The nice lady I spoke too arranged an appointment for initial intake at our house. She came over this week, met M2, asked a bunch of questions, and set us up for the next step of a complete evaluation. In a few weeks, M2's going to have "playtime" with a couple ladies who will do a full eval then give us the results. The woman today said she's obviously very intelligent, we just need to get her to start using more words. It's expected that she'll be on track with everything else.

After the evaluation, our intake coordinator sets M2 up with a therapy plan. The good thing about this organization is that they find it important that the child is in their own environment for therapy. The therapist comes out and word with her and show A and I things we can do with her the rest of the time.

The plan right now is to get all this set up and maybe even get a session or two in before Baby2 arrives. At the least, we'll be ready to go as soon as things settle down with him.

Baby2's Room
Last week, we finally narrowed down the choices of paint colors for Baby2's room to four. Once we get those up on the wall we'll (hopefully) be able to pick one. Right now, there's a futon in there so we can't paint the whole room. The futon needs to go in the family room, which has another couch in it. That one needs to go in the living room which--you guessed it-- also has a couch in it. The hospice we're donating one couch to comes next week, then we can play musical couches and start painting. You can read more about the plans for the nursery here.

At my weekly appointment the doctor said Baby2 is on track. The only downside is that he hasn't flipped yet--he's still breech. He's got a few weeks left to make the flip and I'm hoping he does as I don't want a C-section for a number of reasons (the big one being surgery and I don't mix, at all).

A and I checked out the other choice of hospital for labor and delivery finally. M2 got to spend time with Grandma and Grandpa going to the pumpkin patch, animal park and out to dinner while I was busy with the tour and doctor appointment. It's a good thing we did the tour since we've decided we like the hospital better than the one we were thinking of using. As long as Baby2 doesn't come earlier than 38 weeks, we plan to use the one we toured. The big selling point for me was all private rooms and wireless monitors so I won't have to be strapped down uncomfortably to a bed for hours. That part was NOT fun with M2 and I think labor would have gone faster than the 41.5 hours it took had I been able to move around. I also can't get comfortable in beds sitting up or lying on my back--which is the position I got stuck in so the doctors could have the monitors work.

With less than seven weeks to go, there is still plenty to do on our lists!

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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.






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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.


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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.


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September 14, 2014

Cooking with M: What's for Dinner?

It's cooling down which means it's time for more hearty dinners. It's no longer a huge deal if the oven is on a while, yay!



Sunday
American sausage pierogi with green beans

Monday
Slow cooker pulled BBQ chicken, corn bread and leftover green beans

Tuesday
Steak, baked potato and veggies

Wednesday
Leftovers

Thursday
Pork stirfry

Friday
Mushroom and broccoli chicken over rice

Saturday
Beef roast, parsley buttered potatoes and mixed veggies

Red, Orange, and Yellow Bring a Chill to the Air

Fall is my favorite season. The time from September to early January is simply the best time of year. The heat and mugginess start to dissipate as clean, cool, crisp air takes the stage. Windows can be left open to air out the house without fear of stifling heat.

Brilliant colors of fall.
Where we live in Virginia, we see the trees change from green to red, orange, yellow and brown. The colors slowly spread across the mountains getting more vibrant until they disappear, telling us it's almost time for Christmas. The view outside our windows is spectacular. On drives through the area, the fall leaves on the backdrop of clear, strinking blue sky is simply amazing. Almost nightly we smell bonfires. Our fire pit will be making its own debut soon.

Family photo while apple picking last fall.
When the leaves start to change, it also means apple season is back. It's a family tradition to go apple picking each year. Last year was M2's first time. She couldn't get enough of it. We went a bunch of times to stock up on eating and baking apples. I love making my apple crisp and bread (A loves eating them). Our favorite orchard is up in Winchester, Va. Along with the orchard, it has has pumpkins, a bake shop with amazing apple cider donuts, ice cream, fudge and other goodies, plus a playground for the kids. I can't wait to go in October.
Lovely red leaves in the yard.
I love Halloween. It's a magical time, connecting us to the past and the future. In some cultures and traditions, the October 31 marks the start of the new year, rather than January 1. M2 already has her costume and will have her second crack at trick-or-treating. Last year, she wasn't so sure about it. This year, she should be much more into it. After Thanksgiving, we have Thanksgiving to look forward too, then Christmas.

Decorating for all is just as fun. I pull out all the harvest, pumpkin, leaf and other decorations we have, including the fall-scented candles. Just as fun is knowing that once these decorations come down, all the Christmas decorations will be going up. Falls starts months of beautiful decorations, family time, traditions, our wedding anniversary, birthdays and holidays. It's the time of year to spend with family who are here and remember those who have passed on. It's also a time to make new memories to carry with us through the years.

Looking out over the mountains.
This year, Baby2's appearance will be added to the list of anticipated events. All the things we have to do to get ready for his arrival, including decorating and setting up the nursery, will add to the business of this time of year. Yet, while fall is always busy, it always has a calmness the rest of the year doesn't. It's a feeling I love and look forward to each year. How it can be so busy yet calm at the same time, I'll never know. Maybe it's secret magic hidden in the leaves of the trees, taking over the land as the colors spread.

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September 7, 2014

What's for Dinner?

This week I've got a nice, big case of cook's block. I seriously can't think of what to make for one night, let alone a week! Luckily, I've got a handy list of go-to foods I can make. Writing out the menu also helps kickstart my cooking juices. Let's see what I can come up with.



Monday
Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and veggies

Tuesday
Pork chops, couscous and veggies

Wednesday
Green salad

Thursday
Black beans, rice and ground beef with cheese

Friday
Sausages and veggies

Saturday
Herb chicken, baked potatoes and veggies

September 4, 2014

My Parenting Style

M2 looking cute posing for a picture.
Before M2 was born, I didn't read many books about parenting. I did have the "What to Expect When You're Expecting" standard requirement for pregnancy, which doesn't have much about parenting after baby is born. My preference was to read magazines, like Parents, read articles online and check out blogs from real moms. A and I had a few ideas we knew wanted to stick to as parents. A big part of our parenting is taking things as they come, going with the tide rather than against. As new situations arise, we do what we think is best at the time. Overall, I'm a more hands-on parent, as is A. We work to strike a balance between being hands-on and being too hands-off. Being what's known as a helicopter parent isn't something that works for us or that we want for our family. Like pretty much everything in life, it's about moderation.

Running around exploring new things at the children's museum.
At the park, we're close by to watch in case she falls (or starts making a beeline to the side of the play equipment that is high up yet not blocked so she can just fall off the side). We're not RIGHT on top of her and still let her do her own thing. She has space to play, try new things and explore while being safe. When she's older, we'll move farther away but still plan to be in the area to keep an eye out.

It's a similar deal at the playtime at the library we go to. We keep her in eyesight while she runs around with the other kids. Even if she takes a toy from another child or another child takes one from her, we let it go so they can work it out. Now, if she's about to run out the door, do something dangerous or she/someone else is getting too rough, then we're there to step in. We want her to know we're there if she needs us and be able to provide encouragement along the way. Just as importantly, we want her to have the confidence to do and try things on her own.

Checking out the waterfall and pond at the Beardsley Zoo.
At home, it's the same "hands-on-with-space" style. We have a routine for days we're home which may change when there are errands, events or playdates. It's not a rigid schedule, we have wiggle room. This allows M2 to have the schedule kids need while still learning to be flexible for the days life is super busy.

In our house M2 plays where A or I can see her. She's not old enough yet to play by herself in her room. There are a few play areas in the house so she can be close enough to us that we can keep an eye out. I let her do her own thing playing so she has freedom to be creative and spend time playing with her as well. She knows I'm nearby in case she needs help (or is getting into something she shouldn't). While she plays I tell her the words for her toys, describe the colors on the toys or make other comments to help improve her speaking. Not constantly, but here and there so she has interaction. When she gets frustrated when something doesn't work right away, I encourage her to keep trying. If she needs help with it, I tell her to come ask for help. She's learning to be independent but also that it's ok to ask for help when she needs it.

We take time throughout the day during various activities to encourage M2 to learn new words and develop communication skills. TV isn't on much (which I've talked about in other posts, if you want to read more) so the focus stays on playing and movement. M2 loves when I play music for her during the day, including everything from oldies and classical to modern and kid songs.  Of course, I can't be doing things one-on-one with her all day. While she eats breakfast and has coloring time, I clean the kitchen and do other household chores until she's finished. I really look forward to her being a bit older and able to do more crafts, baking, learning and creative activities. I always rip out fun ideas from magazines and bookmark kid-related activities for when she reaches that age. My plan is to have these activities mixed in with her free-play time when she's at the right stage. As she grows, we'll reevaluate how we do things and make changes as needed. Every age brings new and exciting adventures in childhood--and parenting.
Everyone needs a push on the swing!


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August 31, 2014

Jamaica Allspice Apple Honey Pork Tenderloin

Autumn is my favorite time of year. In celebration of it's impending arrival, and the fact that apple picking season has started, I made a Jamaican allspice apple honey pork tenderloin in the slow cooker for dinner. Not only is it yummy, it's easy to do and makes the house smell good all day. This recipe is one of my own creation while digging through the spice cabinet.

While this is the first time using the allspice, I've done other apple honey slow-cooked pork dishes before. Each one has been so tasty. Plus, there are plenty of leftovers for A's lunches for a few days. The apple I used is one that has been sitting in the fridge, needing to be used up. Fresh apples from our favorite orchard will be making an appearance in the next couple of weeks. We go at least once (usually more) each year to apple pick. I can't wait to start on all my yummy apple recipes for the season--even better, I'll get to share them with all of you! Now, on to tonight's delicious pork. (M2 and I ate ours covered in applesauce).

August 29, 2014

What's for Dinner?

Since we've been on vacation much of August, I haven't had a weekly meal plan to share. Now that we're back, I do! Here's what I'll be whipping up in our kitchen this week. Expect future posts with recipes on some of these dishes!


Friday
Green salad with rotisserie chicken on top. M2 is having ziti.

Saturday
Slow cooked apple honey pork tenderloin, mashed potatoes and mixed veggies

Sunday
Beef tacos with fat-free refried beans and corn/pepper mix

Monday
BBQ boneless skinless chicken breasts, homemade corn bread, baked potatoes and corn

Tuesday
Beef cubes and gravy over egg noodles with broccoli

Wednesday
Pork chops smothered in applesauce, white rice and green beans

Thursday
Leftovers from the week

August 23, 2014

Well Beginings Diapers from Walgreens

Full disclosure: For this review, I was selected to try out the diapers and blog about it. This meant I got a pack for free. Walgreens even threw in some baby wash and wipes as an added bonus.




Ratings (out of 10)
Overall: 7
Design: 9
Softness: 8
Leak protection: 8
Fit: 9
Sagging: 5
Absorbent pad breakage: 3
Thickness: 9
Recommend: Yes



The first thing I noticed was that these diapers are cute with little elephants on them (M2's favorite!) They have no scent at all to them even with the natural botanicals, vitamin E and aloe on the absorbent pad. Soft and fairly thin sums up the texture and weight.

Cute elephant
M2 liked the elephants when I showed them to her when trying them the first time. The fit was good, the sticky tabs are thick and there's an extra bit of material between the leg elastic and the edge of the diaper to catch leaking poo (some don't have this which leads to poo explosions). Since the diapers aren't very thick, M2 didn't have diaper sticking out the bottom of her shorts and skirts, which was great. You also can't see the design very well through light-weight clothing which is a plus in my book! They're easy to put on and the tabs didn't rip off (I hate when diapers do that!)

M2 approved



In-use the diapers scored pretty well. M2 got no rash. They're very absorbent and poo stayed in well also. The band didn't roll up, sides didn't stick out the top after wear. The two negatives were 1. As soon as they get more than just a tiny bit wet, they sag. Because of the sag, the fit was then much looser. 2. The absorbent pad breaks while wearing, making the sagging worse and leaving a good-size area without as much absorbency. Plus it looked weird. Not horrible negatives and I still used them all without getting frustrated and damning their existence, as has happened with other brands. Overall, I liked the diapers, as did M2 and A. I would use them again and suggest them to others if you've got a Walgreens nearby.

On a non-diaper related note, things have been super crazy and busy lately, including a car accident. Hence, I haven't been posting as much. I promise an update post is coming soon!


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August 2, 2014

It's a...

These past two weeks I've been busy cramming in yard sale prep, errands, two ultrasounds (each two hours away), laundry, nursery planning and...finding out what sex Baby2 is! Both of the techs we had agreed for sure on the sex. After being sure the grandparents knew first, we announced today on Facebook. A, M2 and I are very excited as we were hoping for this.


We will have one boy and one girl, the perfect set for our family! While A's family has lots of boys, my family has been all girls so far as I don't have any brothers then there is my niece and M2. This will be quite a change since I'm so used to girls! Once we find out, I've been going through all M2's old clothes that won't work for a boy--which is most of them-- to add them to our yard sale. There is still lots to be done so we are ready for the yard sale next Saturday! (Plus another doctor's appointment, glucose test and lots of cleaning for me.) We're finally on the pricing items portion of the perp. It is all for a huge 44 mile yard crawl spanning a few counties which we hope will mean many customers. Now, to decide on a name for Baby2...

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