Road tripping – Day 2 {Day 15}

The next leg of our journey took us from Columbus, Ohio to St Louis, Missouri. We didn’t really stop anywhere interesting on the way, just little rest stops and fast food joints for the necessary meals and bathroom breaks.

So we spent all of Monday traveling, passing fascinating signs like “Thanks for visiting Ohio!” and “Welcome to Indiana!”

I will say though, the soybean crops in Indiana were very pretty in the sunshine. How’s that for a phone camera photo snapped from a moving car?

Then, we crossed the Mississippi River, and officially entered the west! I thought a lot about Laura Ingalls on this trip, and I was very thankful that we had a bridge to drive easily over the river instead of floating in a covered wagon pulled by swimming oxen. ;-)

And then, finally, after about seven hours of driving, we were welcomed into Missouri. Fun fact, did you know that Panera Bread Co. started in St Louis as the St Louis Bread Co, and changed their name when they expanded into the rest of the country? Neither did I.

We took our time heading out in the morning, so by the time we got to Missouri the sun was setting and we were thinking about bedtimes for the kids. (Not that they went to sleep by anything close to their normal bedtimes!) Lover booked us a fabulous room at Staybridge Suites – we love them and have stayed there before, always a great experience. We had to make an emergency trip to CVS though, after a certain toddler discovered my nail polish and experimented with painting it all over the hotel room wall! I would have taken a picture but I was too busy scrubbing. Thankfully about half a bottle of nail polish remover did the trick. Also, this happened. Cuteness.

jenny

 

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Road tripping – The First Day {Day 14}

Sunday the 21st we went to our church one last time, said goodbye to our pastor, and headed out to the van. Some of Lover’s family was there to hug and kiss us one more time, and then we loaded up and headed out. There were a few tears but mostly we were excited to get started on our trip! I’ll never forget the way Javi would say “we moo-fing to Den-Ber!” Melted my heart every time.

Our plan was to make it to Columbus, Ohio on this first day. It was just over six hours, and we knew we didn’t have much more in us than after the month we had had (our original plan was to drive all the way to St Louis, MO that first day, thankfully we realized that was a terrible idea!) The kids conked out shortly after leaving Rochester, so we had a couple of hours of quiet as we started out.

Road trip

We made it about four hours, and then stopped at a little gas station to fuel up and stretch our legs. We were in Nowheresville, OH, but they had this awesome steam engine and diner car at the top of the hill. So naturally we climbed up the hill to check it out!

Peanut had a bit of trouble climbing such a mountain (to her!) so she and Lover lagged behind a bit. Javi charged up that hill, anxious to see the train, of course. A while ago I asked Lover to take more pictures of me with the kids, and he’s been awesome at that. I particularly liked this one he got of my little guy and I while we waited for them to catch up.

From up top the view was incredible. We got to see the train, and look out at the awesome sunset. It was a nice way to get out some wiggles and have some freedom from the car before finishing the rest of that leg to Columbus.

Road trip1 Road trip2

jenny

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Saying Goodbye {Day 13}

A few people have asked us how we could possibly leave our family, friends and church family behind. I will tell you this, it hasn’t been easy. I’m a lover by nature. I love people, love to feel connected and like I belong. Starting over in a new city has its benefits, but it is definitely hard to feel unattached and without a support system.

My adorable grandparents

The Wednesday before we left town, I went over to my grandparents to say goodbye. I love them dearly, and they have been especially important to me since I lived with them when I was in college. My grandma became my friend, which I know is such a rare gift. We said our goodbyes with the full knowledge that it may be our last time together. I plan on visiting, obviously, but the reality is that they are older, and their health is not what it used to be. It was hard knowing it might be my last time to see them in this life.

But what I always come back to is the fact that it is not truly goodbye if we are a part of the family of God. Yes, I may not see you again in this life, but we get to spend all of eternity together!

We sing songs about the family of God, and we talk about it routinely, but I truly believe that my “family” is sprinkled around the globe, and I was so excited to move out here and meet some new family members. Of course I miss the depth of friendship and familiarity that I had in New York, but I’m also excited for the new friends we’ll make here!

jenny

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Beauty Around Us {Day 12}

We’re living in a beautiful little area of Denver, and since we only have the one car, three days a week I’m home with kids car-less. So we’ve been taking a lot of walks – to the park, to the playground, to the library, to the store. Last Monday we walked to the library, which is about two miles away. This is what I love about Denver, as we walked down a totally normal street we passed dozens of prairie dog colonies, found a hidden herd of horses, checked out the wildflowers and got a sunburn. You know, just walking to the library.

Javi took this next picture, I am so proud of my budding photographer!

The sky here is an unreal shade of blue. Like bluest of bluey blues. It’s so bright and saturated that it kind of leaves me breathless.

We walk through the park, around this little pond, all the way up to the playground. It’s a nice, calm walk that we always enjoy. It allows the boy to burn off some energy, and the girl to practice her walking. And the momma to take some deep breaths and snap some pretty pictures.

Not even big sky and horses compare to these two though. Have you ever seen anything cuter? :)

jenny

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The Mountains {Day 11}

Last Saturday, after all that fun at the festival, we loaded up the kids in the van, handed out binkies and made a beeline for the mountains. We had been admiring these gorgeous Rockies from a distance, and I was absolutely dying to get up there with my camera and see them in person. They did not disappoint!


The view from Overlook Mountain. Pretty sure we could see all the way back to NY.


Some big eared Mule Deer checked out us from the side of the road. I was ecstatic but they were not impressed. I want to see elk and big horn sheep and whatever else these mountains are hiding – maybe a mountain lion? From the safety of my car of course. :)

It’s only kind of pretty up here. You know. Average stuff.

I’ve been meditating a lot on the fact that God has always descended on a mountain, shown his glory on a mountain, drew all men to Him while lifted up on a mountain… So many references and I need to do a study on it. It seems these beautiful, wild, exquisite creations of His are quite important to him.

I think we’ll be headed back up into the mountains today. I’ve been struggling a lot this week and being surrounded by this absolute beauty and wildness that God created is so soothing to me. I’m doing my best to remember to “lift up my eyes to the hills, from whence comes my help!”

jenny

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The Most Epic of Moving Sales – Part 2 {Day 10}

So last time I talked about the Epic Moving Sale, I gave you my three rules for a successful sale. Today I want to just talk about my sale in general, some anecdotes, and a few things I want to remember.

 

Papa’s first selfie! 

I couldn’t have done this sale on my own. Thankfully I have an awesome father in law who came over bright and early Thursday morning to help with set up (I think he made three dozen trips down from the attic!), sisters in law who are always up for helping out, a husband who worked from home so I wouldn’t be alone with the creepers, and a sweet best friend who took time out of her day to come help out at my sale.

We met some really, truly interesting characters. Some of my favorites were the Irishman who chided me for carrying a heavy box – “why are you carrying that all by yourself, ye bonnie lass?”, his partner in crime Luigi who was an absolute riot, the people who spent two hours in my house only to spend 50 cents, and the lady who nearly had a heart attack because her little dog ate something off the ground in my yard. “What did you eat? Do you know what he ate? If you die, I am not going to be able to help you!” All of this after she threw her just purchased wine glasses on the ground trying to “rescue” her dog.

We also had a really fun guy we dubbed Superman who bought a ton of our stuff and was a real riot. He bought things one at a time, a picture frame, then some boots, then maybe I’m interested in the computer, oh, and I’ll take these 30lb weights, but my hands are full, so let me stack both weights (60lbs) and carry them with one hand out to the car! He also bought all of my vintage sheet music for his daughter, and came back the next day with his wife to buy even more stuff.

I’m glad we set up indoors, because we had really chilly, rainy weather for most of the weekend. I had already packed up our winter stuff, so it was a cold couple of days! But we survived and we had a good time, and the kids thought it was a blast to run around the yard playing with all of the stuff we were trying to sell.

I thought it was really interesting that a few friends came to our sale as a show of their support. They bought quite a bit of stuff to help us out, so that we could move! It wasn’t something I would have thought of, but I appreciated them coming, having a chance to visit with them, and then of course, getting rid of more of our things!

So that wraps up our little moving sale recap. It was fun, and exhausting, and a part of me never wants to do it again. :)

jenny

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Giving Myself Grace {Day 9}

The last few days have been hard days. You know, the days that are sandwiched in between the happy-go-lucky fun days? Days full of sticky stuff like discipline and poor sleep and feeling unsettled. Overall this move has been fantastic, but I’m definitely feeling the lack of community and a support system here, and our family has been through a lot of changes in the past month. It would be idealistic of me to think that we could navigate all of this without any hard days/negativity/personal failings. So, I’m extending grace to myself and reminding myself of God’s blessings, and doing my best to be okay with the fact that I’m feeling a little weepy these days. We’re starting to settle into a routine and find our new normal here, and after tonight we may even own a couch! :) That would be fantastic. Bring on the snuggles!

jenny

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Tired of Being a Stuff Manager {Day 7}

I know I said that I was going to do part two of the moving sale today, but I am nothing if not a rulebreaker. *cough* I can hear Lover laughing somewhere. Anyways, on to today’s post.

It was really interesting to watch people’s reactions when we told them we were selling just about everything we owned before our move. Some people applauded us, some (a lot of) people thought we were crazy, and some people were downright upset. I tried so many times to explain our thought process, but I just never seemed to be able to really put it into words. Maybe today I’ll do a better job.

Have you ever thought about how much time we spend taking care of our stuff? I’m talking about working on our houses, maintaining our vehicles, sorting our paperwork. Washing our clothes, our dishes, and our linens. Dusting books and baseboards and knickknacks. Winterizing the lawnmower, summerizing the snowblower, raking fall leaves, replacing blown lightbulbs. Decorating, redecorating, tweaking and revamping. Washing clothes, ironing them, putting them away, sewing on buttons, matching up socks, hanging clothes on hangers, putting away out of season clothes.

Some days, it drives me bonkers. Why am I doing this? Why is such a huge percentage of my time taken up by caring for my stuff? Do I really need sixteen nail polishes and twenty Pyrex dishes and eighteen coffee mugs? Do my kids need so many toys that putting them away at night takes too long for a toddler to do in  reasonable amount of time? My husband has so little free time, why are we spending it on oil changes and mowing and yet another kitchen project?

There was a time that I pretty much stopped blogging because I had grown tired of talking about decorating all the time. What was the purpose? How was talking about decorating doing anything of merit? When I get to heaven, will God compliment me on my perfectly matched curtains and decorative throw? If I styled my mantel perfectly, who cared? Did it help anyone?

I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with decorating your house. In fact, my conclusion from that year or so off was that it was necessary for me, in order to create a home for my family. I think my blog also helps other people see how attainable decorating and projects can be, and encourages them to give it a try too. But, like everything else, there needs to be a balance. I needed to find a way to create a warm and welcoming home, but to be able to look at a room and say “enough is enough.”

Basically, it boils down to this. I’m tired of being a “stuff manager.” Today my kids and I went to the library. We don’t have a second car, so we walked the two miles there and then rode the city bus home. It took us FOUR AND A HALF hours to do what would have normally taken about 12 minutes round trip in a car. Back in Rochester, if you had suggested that, I would have said no. Heck no! Why? Because there were probably two dozen other things on my to do list that seemed more pressing than a trip to the library, and I can guarantee that at least three quarters of that list would have been “stuff” to-do’s.

So when we were given the chance to start with a clean slate, I considered it a gift. I could get rid of the “just in case” paperwork. That gift that someone gave me that I don’t like but felt like I should. The clothes that didn’t fit, and the fifteen mugs that I didn’t really like as much as my favorite three. By renting a much, much smaller place, there’s just physically not enough room to have much. And yes, I will decorate and cozy-ify this little place to make it feel like home, but there’s only so much you can do in a two bedroom apartment. A few fun projects and a handful of furniture purchases, and we’ll be done.

As we downsized, whenever I hit a particularly difficult group of things to purge, Matthew 6:19-21 would play in my mind.

 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

It was always the reminder I needed that things are not what this life is about. I won’t look back at the end of my life and wish I had owned more stuff. I won’t regret not purchasing the latest “necessity”. By reducing the amount of “stuff” we have to manage, we’re freeing ourselves to have more time for family, friends and God. It’s not an easy process, nor is it an easy adjustment. But I do think, for us, in this time and this place, it is exactly what we need to be doing.

The Nester wrote a great post on this topic as part of her 31 days series two years ago. It’s worth the read.

And this is a very interesting study on how possessions shape us. Notable quote “our possessions become an extension of who we are””

jenny

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The Most Epic of Moving Sales – Part 1 {Day 6}

Yesterday I talked about how we sold most of our high value items. Today, I’ll talk about our huge moving sale, and what we did in order to make upwards of $1500 in three days.

First of all, in order to make a lot of money at your moving sale, you need to follow three absolute rules: 1)Price your items to move! 2)Advertise and get the word out! 3)Be very, very willing to negotiate. Let’s chat about each one.

1)Price your items to move! The goal of having this sale was to get.rid.of.stuff. The goal was not to get what each individual item was worth, but rather to lure people in with great deals, hoping that they would end up with several things instead of just that little 50 cent sale. I’d say, on average, each customer spent between $10 and $20, which is so awesome for a yard sale! here’s a sampling of what we priced items at.

  • Kids’ clothes 50¢, kids shoes sizes 0-3 $1.00/pr, 4 and up $2.00/pr. If clothes were a matched set or brand name or adorable, I sold them for $2.00/set. On the last day of the sale we did “fill a grocery bag with clothes for $5 and sold at least 5 or 6 bags this way.
  • Glassware (glasses, vases, small bowls, etc) and mugs were 50¢ each or 3/$1.00 I sold all of my kitchen utensils (spatulas, whisks, tongs, etc) in a big bin $1.00 each or 3/$2.
  • Women’s shirts $2.00, pants $2.50 and dresses $3.00 (Remember, I had already set aside the best stuff and sent it to Thredup)
  • Men’s shirts and pants $2.00
  • Boots (adult or children’s) $5.00/pr
  • I grouped a lot of stuff in ziploc bags – so 5 bottles all together for $5, two hooded towels for $2, etc. This makes people buy a little more, and it kept me from having to price every.single.thing. If someone asked to just buy one item from the bag I said yes, then adjusted the price of the bag accordingly.
  • DvDs $1.00 each, CDs 25¢ each. I sold ALL of our DVDs and CDs at these prices.
  • Techie cables were $1.00 ea or 3/$2.00 A surprising amount of these sold.
  • My higher value toys were priced individually (Melissa & Doug toys, wooden puzzles, Tinkertoys, etc) All other toys were 50¢ each, stuffed animals were 25¢ each.
  • Picture frames were $1.00 each, $2.00 for very large ones. These all sold. I guess I have good taste in frames!
  • Board games were between $2 and $5 depending on their condition. If I had purchased them at a yard sale, I tried to list them for the price I bought them for.
  • If items were brand new, in their original packaging, I sold them for 50% of their purchase value.
  • For everything else, I tried to price things at a price I would be happy to pay if I were the one at the sale. Pretending I was my own customer helped me to not be sentimental about the “value” of any said item.

IMG_20140911_100937

2)Advertise and get the word out!

  • I always list my sales on Craigslist, and this time was no different. This time, however, I listed the sale each day so that the posting would be at the top of the page each day, instead of people having to scroll down to find my listing. In the listing, I uploaded pictures of the things I had for sale, as well as a picture of my moving sale sign. I told people to look for the hot pink signs!
  • I paid $50 to list my sale on estatesales.net In order to do this, I had to let people into my house – so I cordoned off the upstairs, kept the garage closed, and allowed people in the first floor, basement and of course the front yard and driveway. I was nervous about letting people into the house, but everyone was very nice and respectful of our home, and it worked out great since the weather didn’t cooperate with us! We got a lot of traffic from this site, and I would have gotten even more if I had listed the sale earlier. They do email blasts in advance, and you can list up to seven days ahead of time. I listed mine Wednesday night, so I didn’t really get traffic from this site until Friday afternoon and Saturday.
  • I also posted the sale on my personal Facebook page (and several friends were kind enough to share my post!) as well as our local Mom’s Resale Page on FB. I got quite a few friends and other traffic from Facebook, which surprised me!
  • Great signage. I put up about 17 signs in our neighborhood. I put them at every large intersection surrounding our house, on the sides of the street that you would make the turn from. I used hot pink posterboard and a black sharpie, and taped the posterboard to foam board to make it stronger. I put them all up on Wednesday, but drove around each evening to check on them. Some had blown away or gone limp from the rain, so I replaced them as needed. I made my signs as simple as possible: MOVING SALE in big letters, the days of the sale, the address and an arrow. I’ve found that people never pay attention to the times of a sale, and any additional info (what you have for sale, etc) just makes the sign harder to read. One additional note: when the sale is over, please take down your signs! It’s the polite thing to do!

3) Be very willing to negotiate. People love to haggle at yard sales. It’s just what people do. They’re looking for a deal, and you’re looking for the items to no longer be in your possession. So – make a deal! People often asked me what was the best price I could do on their selection of items. I would add up the value of their items and round down to the nearest whole amount. So – if they were buying $17.50 worth of stuff, I would say $15. There will always be the people who try to point out all the defects of an item in order to get a lower price. I knew that I was selling nice stuff, at very fair prices. So if they started to point out problems, I would simply state my price and say “I’m not willing to go lower than that.” You have to be firm but friendly. Most of them time people were very willing to meet in the middle, at a price both of us were happy with.

So those are my absolute rules for a successful yard sale! Tomorrow I’ll talk some more about my particular sale and some general tips for a great sale.

jenny

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Flat Acres {Day 5}

Yesterday was a day to relax. A much needed, long overdue day to spend together as a family, not roadtripping across America, not packing or shopping or unpacking or assembling furniture, but just having fun together. We spent the morning at Flat Acres farm in Parker, Colorado, meeting some new friends and enjoying a few fall festivities. I really enjoyed just taking some nice pictures and watching the kids have a blast. Fall is here in Colorado but it is a little different than in upstate NY! It was 73 degrees, and so sunny that we all got a little sunburned! That was a first for us. :)


We checked out the little pumpkin patch first, Javi made a beeline for the huge ones and we got some classic pumpkin pictures. My kids are apparently little rebels though :)

We constantly joke that Javi is so timid and terrified. He just won’t try out anything new. :) The boy seems to have no fear, especially not of anything regarding people. He checked out every activity, tried every new thing, and took it all in unafraid. I hope that courage is a quality he continues to have throughout his life.



The tractor ride was a hit – our driver was very friendly and talked the entire ride to us about the farm, which would have been nice except for the fact that the PA system made everything come out completely garbled! Peanut loved the tractor ride, and did her best to fall off the wagon several times.

The corn maze, however, was not a hit. I think the kids were just too little and it was a little too overwhelming. We lasted for only the first few turns and then ended up having to find the quickest exit. :(

Javi and I got our faces painted, and throughout the rest of the day I would forget, think something was on my face and try to wipe it off before I remembered it was paint. :)


The petting zoo was also a hit, although Peanut had absolutely no interest in it. We bought her a soft pretzel which she happily munched on while Javi and I visited the animals. The alpacas were awesome – they looked like stuffed animals!




They had a fun water slide for rubber ducks set up for the kids that was Javi’s absolute favorite. I think he would have stayed here all day if we had let him. He only liked the yellow ducks though, and at one point had both yellow duckies and would send them zooming down the slides. He was very particular about them facing the right way on their way down the river! What you can’t see in these pictures are his happy screams each time they floated down the pipes. :)


Our last activity for the day was the big corn boxes. This was such an awesome idea! No mess, no yucky sand stuck everywhere, tons of fun. Both kids got a huge kick out of them.


All in all, it was a really fun time together. We met up with a friend of friend who lives here in Denver, which was great. It’s nice to know at least one person in a town, right? Andrea, her parents and her kids were so nice, and we had a great time chatting in between kid wrangling. We laughed and played with the kids and just relaxed. It was so needed after the last few weeks. After the farm we grabbed lunch and then drove to the mountains. I’ll show you those pictures later, but they were just breathtaking. The perfect counterpart to the fun at the farm.
jenny

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