Thursday, October 25, 2012

Today Is Just Not a Funny Day

I don't have any sweet or witty or gross stories to share with you today.  

Sorry, guys.  My kids can't be funny every day.

Well, Caedmon was pretty funny yesterday.  We had some Rice Crispy cereal (except it was the Aldi brand, creatively named "Crisp Rice cereal"), and he wanted to try some for the first time.  So I put a bowlful in front of him and poured some milk on top.  It started to make its trademark "Snap Crackle Pop" sound, and Caedmon refused to eat it, because "It's burning!"  

Later, Derek came home from work with a handful of temporary tattoos from the Ames Fire Department.  When Caedmon saw his older siblings each getting one, he decided he needed one, too.  Derek put it on, and Caedmon spent the next thirty seconds trying to get away from his own arm.  The tattoo scared him. 

Atticus and Adelaide then declared that Derek and I also needed firefighter tattoos.  So now each member of our family is sporting matching tattoos.  It makes me feel like we're part of a rad family band that wins musical contests and uses words like 'rad.'  We're practically the Von Trapps over here.  Or the Partridge Family.  *shudder*

Other than those little stories, though, I've got nothing.  So, here are some photos I took last week while Derek was trying to rake the backyard.

I've decided to narrate them for you.

Adelaide in the leaf pile.  Caedmon being cute.  Atticus in the background, not so much raking with the small rake as playing golf with it.

Adelaide recovering from Caedmon dumping leaves on her head.  If Atticus had done it, she would be screaming at him.  Because it was Caedmon, she's laughing.

Derek burying Daughter.

Derek burying Eldest Son.

Atticus about to explode out of the leaf pile.

 A rare All Three Crisler Children In One Shot photo.

Maybe not that rare.

The end.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Hand Jive

Lately, the boys and I have been listening to a satellite radio station called "Malt Shop Oldies" when we're home throughout the day.  It plays music from the 50's, Atticus particularly seems to enjoy it, and I don't have to worry about the lyrical content. (A lot of the songs they play are about food- seafood and spaghetti and meatballs and such.  Why can't they make songs like that now?  I like food.  I like music.  Seems like a winning combination to me.)

One of the songs regularly played is "Willie and the Hand Jive."  It's a fun little song, and the boys like trying to do the hand motions in time with the music.  Good times all around.

This morning, we went to a bigger, fancier grocery store than the one we usually frequent.  I've had a hankering for soup in bread bowls recently, so we were on a quest to find big enough bread...roll... ball... thingies that I could hollow out for supper tonight.  Atticus and Caedmon were just excited that they got to ride in a special cart shaped like a car.

So there we are, right around the bakery section in Hy-Vee, I'm looking for bread, and Atticus is quietly singing, "Hand Jive" while doing a vague approximation to the movements.

For some reason, there were what seemed like a lot of bakery employees,  five or six of them, all working efficiently.  A couple of them noticed my lost look as I muttered, "I don't think we're in Aldi anymore, Toto."

They had both started toward me, when Atticus decided it was time for a dramatic crescendo and belted out, "HAND JOB!  HAND JOB!  DOIN' THAT HAND JOB!"

Oh, and he was still doing wild, spastic hand motions that looked very little like the actual hand jive.

The young man rounding the edge of the counter stopped in his tracks, and behind the counter, one young lady's hands flew to her mouth, while the other four of them lapsed into silence and stared at us.

"Hand JIVE," I clarified.  "He's singing, 'Hand Jive.'"

I waited for the floor to graciously open up and swallow me whole or my face to burst into flames, but instead at that moment I spotted what I was looking for, blindly threw some bread into the cart, gave the giggling employees a sheepish grin, and wheeled our cart around to the check-out as fast as I could.

I like to think of it as our family doing it's part to spread a little joy in our section of the country, rather than my children doing their level best to mortify me in public.  Either way, I'm going to declare this a "win."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

This Post May or May Not Contain a Slight Exaggeration

Our family thrives on routine.

Well, I thrive on routine.  Our kids don't really have much choice in the matter.  Maybe having more spontaneity in their lives would be better for one or more of them, but unfortunately, they're stuck with me for a mother, and I just don't handle last minute changes well.  Or change at all, really, unless I've been given plenty of time to mull it over and prepare myself.  

Basically I'm the most exciting person alive.

One part of our family's daily routine is the post-supper play hour.  This is the one time each workday that we get to spend together, all five of us.  Our kiddos are still a bit young to be in any extra-curricular activities, and I'm actually trying to hold them off for as long as possible at this point, just to help preserve this family time we have together each evening.

And because I'm a socially awkward hermit.  But I usually just cite the first reason.

If it's at all warm outside, we play out in the backyard.  The evening usually looks something like this:

Atticus plays soccer or golf or frisbee at a skill level that is coming close to out-stripping my own.  He's usually just what this photo depicts:  a blur.

Derek plays with him.  Sometimes I join in, but usually stop when I get tired of being laughed at or when I feel I've hit my daily quota of closing my eyes and squealing when a ball comes toward me.  I've noticed a number of people walking their dogs on the other side of the fence, and I sometimes wonder if it's a feminist out there, cringing every time she hears me.

Sometimes we can even coerce Adelaide into playing with us.  But not on this day, obviously.

Caedmon is usually up for about anything.  I think that evening he was trying to hide from the camera behind my scarf, and it quickly became a fun game for him and a strangle-session for me.  Seems like a pretty accurate metaphor for motherhood in general, actually.

We've had a few evenings this fall that have been too cool to play outdoors, so we stayed in and played a family favorite:  Hide and Seek.

You should know something about me: I'm awesome at Hide and Seek.  

I once won a game of Hide and Seek at a neighbor's house by making everyone think I was a tree.  Not hiding in or near a tree.  I was the tree.  Seriously.

Another time Derek walked right past me because I had managed to successfully camouflage myself to the point that I blended in with the quilt on our bed.  And I don't mean I bunched up the blankets at the foot of the bed and hit under those (a H&S rookie move if ever there was one), I mean I laid spread eagle, flat on top of the bed.  That's how good I am.  

Does it seem like I'm a little too proud of my H&S prowess?  

Well, if I am, it comes only from sucking at every single other competitive activity in existence.  So I'll ask you not to begrudge me this one thing, please.

Oh, and I should note that if you're one of those freaks that believes H&S also involves running and getting to a "base" before the person who's "it," you're sorely mistaken.  That's some kind of tag-infested, bastardized version of Hide and Seek.  And I'm not just saying that because I always lose that kind.  (Except I probably am.)

So, yeah.  I'm really good at Hide and Seek.

Or I was.  

Because those recent nights where our family stayed in and played H&S?  I did not do well.  

The problem is all mental.  (So many, many of my problems are.)  You see, successful hiding depends on 

1)  Absolute stillness.
2)  Absolute silence.
3)  Being brazen in your hiding spots.  Don't go for the obvious, like stuffing yourself in the clothes dryer or cowering under the table.  Be a tree.  Be a quilt.  Be brazen.

Number three, I can still do.  But numbers one and two?  I seem to have lost those abilities over the summer.  I had decent hiding places a couple times the other night, but completely sabotaged myself by giggling madly when I heard Derek approaching, or letting my body become suddenly overcome by random spasms in my limbs.  

And breathing?  Forget about it.  I have suddenly become the heaviest breather ever.  I'm trying to be completely still, but my chest rising and falling by at least a foot (okay, maybe not quite a foot) and my bordering-on-obscene mouth-breathing gives me away.

I had one thing.  One thing I was good at.  And God has snatched it away from me.

I'm hereby changing my name to Job.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Anti-Highlight Reel

Did I ever tell you about the time I walked into a room full of my fellow middle schoolers, sat down, and had to listen to my mom give the whole room a lecture (complete with fun visual aids) on sex education?

Oh, I did?

Well, to continue in the time-honored tradition of humiliating your offspring, I'm going to post a few photos on here.

My original intention wasn't to post bad photos of our children, but I found more bad ones than good when reviewing our recent photos.  Therefore bad is what you shall see.

You'll take it and you'll like it.

(Sorry.  I've still got those mom/seventh grade/sex ed memories careening around my brain.  It always makes me a little cross.)


Guess who still hates having his picture taken?

That's right.  I tried to take his picture on his birthday.  Just call me "Mommy Dearest."

Who wants to play a rousing game of "Guess Which Kid Grows Up To Be A Serial Killer?"  (You should really click on this one to embiggen it, just for the full effect of that dead, glacial stare.)

And here we have Caedmon again, who's hatred of the camera wars with his love for frosting.

And this one's for you, Adelaide.  You can thank me in, oh, say ten years or so.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Belated Birthday Post for Atticus

Tuesday was Atticus's birthday.

I had planned on writing some kind of sweet post, lauding all his positive attributes and talking about how much he's learned and grown over the past year.

Then I got sick.

Not super-sick; just a nasty cold whose low point happened to fall on Tuesday.  So rather than doing all kinds of fun birthday activities throughout the day with the boys (things I don't allow on a regular basis, like painting and digging in the dirt), I spent his birthday trying to come up with yet another game that we could all play together that would a) burn through as much time as possible and b) allow me to lie down the entire time.

As a result, instead of me doing fun, birthday things for our newest four-year-old, he spent the day doing things for me: rubbing my back when I suspect I looked particularly miserable, lowering his face to the floor until it was about two inches from mine and asking, "Can I get you anyfing else, Mom?  Do you need more Kleenexes?", snuggling right up next to me in a mound of blankets under which he had buried my feverish body (Atticus is by far our most physically affectionate child).

That day was actually a pretty good representation of how Atticus has changed over the last year.  One year ago, there was no way I could have gotten away with spending most of the day horizontal, no matter how vocal I was in an attempt to fool the boys into the thinking I was engaged in their play.  I spent a good portion of my days correcting Atticus's behavior and trying not to lose my ever-lovin' mind in the face of his frequent meltdowns.

Anymore, the meltdowns are increasingly rare.  He still has one every couple days, but if I remain calm and catch him early enough, I can usually coach him to the point where he regains his composure.  (Usually.  Not always.)  He's gotten much better about "using his words" (in quotation marks because I probably say that three million times a day) to express what is upsetting him.  In short, he is maturing.

I'm also trying harder to understand what it's like to be the middle child.  It seems tough.  You're not the high-achieving, already-reached-all-the-fun-milestones oldest child, but you're also not the cute, look-at-how-I-can-turn-the-most-mundane-activity-into-something-adorable baby of the family.  You're stuck in the middle.  And that kind of sucks.  (Props to Derek for pointing out the middle-child-sucks thing to me.)

To help compensate for his less than ideal placement in the birth order, I've been trying to spend a little extra time and attention on Atticus each day.  Not a lot- there really just isn't time- simply an extra few minutes here and there throughout the day.  It's incredible how quickly he responds to it; just taking the time stop washingthedishesfoldingthelaundryvacuumingthefloorsetc to get down on my knees, look him in the eyes, say, "Hey, Bud!" and give him a hug can change his attitude for an entire morning.

Did we spend his birthday the way I had envisioned?  No.  And make no mistake; I felt a good deal of Mommy-guilt over my failure to make his day special: no creative, messy painting, no made-from-scratch chocolate birthday cake; instead, lots of pretend-mommy's-a-sick-monster-and-you-have-to-make-her-feel-better and a quick trip to Dollar General for crappy chocolate cake mix with canned frosting.

You know what, though?  He didn't seem to care one bit.  It all bothered me way more than it did him.  Any lingering guilt I felt was assuaged when, after pulling up to McDonald's- his birthday supper pick- and catching sight of the school bus in its parking lot, disgorging swarms of middle school athletes, Derek and I looked at each other, groaned, and contemplated leaving to find somewhere else to eat.

And went inside anyway.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Whole Story

Tomorrow, Atticus will be four.  In honor of his birthday, I'm going to post a bunch of photos of the little golf outing our family took a couple months ago.  Golf is, after all, Atticus's favorite pasttime.

I know it looks like everyone's having a great time in all these photos- and make no mistake, we did have fun- but man, is it a lot of work to take the three of them anywhere out of the ordinary.  Scratch that:  It's really just a lot of work to get all five of us out in public.  So to have all three of the kiddos out on a golf course, where a certain amount of decorum is expected, and try to get them all to behave like normal human beings- well, let's just say it was less "Look at our little family, can't you tell we're having the time of our lives?" and more "GOODNESS, CHILDREN- don't touch that, Caedmon- AREN'T WE- Atticus, come back here- JUST HAVING- Adelaide, get up, we do not roll around in the rough- THE BEST- Caedmon, stay out of the water- TIME?"

By the end of the (everlasting and exhausting) round, Derek and I both agreed that we wouldn't be taking all three children out for golf again for at least five years.  Or never. 

But at least we got some good photos out of the whole venture, right?  That's all that matters.  Not the emotional scars we'll all bear for years, but the pictures. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I Now Know What My Superhero Name Would Be

One of the great things about living in a small town in the Midwest is that it's definitely a make-your-own-fun kind of place.  We have a post office, Dollar General, library, and a Subway restaurant, and that's about it.  Oh, and two Casey's gas stations.  I'm not really sure why we need two; probably something to do with the fact that Casey's headquarters are about fifteen miles down the highway from us.

So unless you want to get in your car for at least fifteen minutes, you're going to have to rely on your own creativity for entertainment.

Yesterday, we went to the beach.  And by "beach," I mean "abandoned sand volleyball court."

Our little town hosts a small festival every August, and one of the activities is sand volleyball.  This lonely patch of sand stands dormant the rest of the year, and just happens to sit across the street from the bus stop.  Yesterday, I lost my mind for about ten minutes and suggested we go play in it when Adelaide got off the bus.  Yes, I knew that sand was a little messy, but I'm trying to be more of a fun, in-the-moment kind of mom and less of a downer, that's-going-to-make-such-a-mess kind of a mom.

All three kiddos had a great time, which I had to keep reminding myself when we got home and I spent the next hour sweeping and vacuuming the floors, couch, and almost every other piece of furniture we own until they were satisfactorily sand-free, then sweeping and vacuuming all over again when I realized that Caedmon had a veritable sand dune hidden in his diaper and was hemorrhaging sand with each step he took, bathing the kids, then sweeping again when I discovered that I, too, was leaking sand from my own jeans.

Parents who live on the coast- how do you do it?

Our trip to the beach also served to cheer Adelaide up from her first grade blues- with the exception of one little interaction between the two of us.  About ten minutes after we had parked ourselves in the sand, she came running up to me with a big hunk of some kind of hardened sand/mud conglomerate and brandished it at me, saying, "Mom, look!  A dinosaur bone!  I found a dinosaur bone and I'm going to be the first kid and non-paleontologist to have found a dinosaur bone ever!"

"I don't think that's a dinosaur bone, Adelaide."

"That's just because I haven't cleaned it up yet."  She then proceeded to chip away at it, and upon finding a small rock in the middle said, "See!  It is a dinosaur bone!"

"Honey, that's not a dinosaur bone.  It's a rock."

"Yes, it is!"

"Fine.  If you want to think of it as a dinosaur bone, go ahead."

This was apparently the wrong thing to say as her response was a withering glare and the announcement,  "You are a Killer of Dreams."

Then she stalked away.

That whole episode obviously wasn't too scarring, however; she and both her brothers have already asked if we could return to play in the sand this afternoon.  Sadly, the weather has turned on us; yesterday our high was in the lower 80's, today it's in the lower 50's.  It was probably our last warm day for a long time, so we won't be able to go play in the sand again for quite a while, and I won't get to clean sand out of the crevices of our floors, couch, chairs, and children.

I'm crushed.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Make Lists, Not Anorexia

Are you trying to figure out what that title means?  Me, too.

I was going to post a random list today- because, you know, I love lists- and it occurred to me that I especially love to make lists when the rest of my life is somewhat disorderly.  It's like my way of creating a small amount of order in my life.

Then it occurred to me that eating disorders often start the same way: as a way of establishing control in one's life- "Hey, I may not be able to control much of anything in my life right, but at least I can still control my body!"

So what I think I'm saying is that you should make a list if you need to assert your control.  Lists good, eating disorders bad.

Jeez, someone get me a muzzle.  Or, you know... something that locks my fingers together to keep me from typing.  SAVE ME FROM MYSELF.

Let's just start the list, shall we?

  • Adelaide hates the 1st grade.  I'm not sure what to do about it.  She seems to be performing just fine on an academic level, but every day she comes home unhappy.  And cranky.  And takes it out on her brothers, which seems to make them feel like we could do with one less female in the family.  I'll probably write a longer post about this topic soon, but right now, I'm pretty much at a complete loss as to what to do for her.  Ideas, anyone?
  • I recently read a statistic that the average American checks out 7 items per year from their local public library.  Really?  Only seven?  And apparently the month of September is "Get a library card" month.  People need to be told to get a library card?  That whole article made me feel depressed, and defeated, and a little disbelieving.  Seven?  That can't be right.  I feel like if people would just walk in and see everything their local library had to offer, they'd be there a lot more often.  Things like Books! DVD's!  Free internet access!  Book clubs!  Story time!  Newspapers!  Smart people!
  • Speaking of which, it's Banned Books Week!  While I understand the need to censor certain books for certain people (there are books that we don't allow in our house, so our family does, in effect, ban books), it's hard for me to read the vast lists of books that have both been banned in the past and are currently being banned, because some of them are such great books, and some of the reasons for doing so are so stupid.  To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most banned books of all time, and it's one of my very favorites.  And while I'm not surprised to see Harry Potter on the list I can't help but think, Really?  REALLY?
  • For some reason I've been reading more nonfiction than usual lately.  I recently read Strength In What Remains, about a young man who witnessed the start of the civil war and subsequent genocide in his native country of Burundi, and somehow managed to escape to the US, where he began the difficult climb from the very bottom of the socioeconomic ladder in New York City all the way up to medical school.  Before that, I read a book about the American ambassador who lived in Berlin in the years just before WWII.  Both books had very difficult scenes to read and described some truly heinous atrocities.  It was in the middle of one part of Strength In What Remains where the fleeing young man witnesses a rebel soldier throwing a baby into a pyre with one hand and eating a corn cob with the other that my stomach rolled and I began thinking about all the horrible sins perpetrated in WWII and in other genocides, and it occurred to me that the terrible weight of all those and every single sin in history combined is what Jesus had to knowingly bear when he went to the cross for us.  It makes me feel disgusted with the human race and simultaneously uplifted to know that He loves us that much.
  • We got a postcard in the mail letting Derek know that "It's time to get your vision checked!"  Oh, and it's from the eye doctor he saw one time IN CONNECTICUT.  They've somehow managed to track us through four moves across three states, because we're still getting regular postcards from them.  They should give tips to the CIA.  Because, you know, I'm sure the CIA has trouble with that kind of thing.
  • I got a text from my sister yesterday saying that her daughter (my sweet niece Charlotte) is thisclose to crawling, except for one pesky leg that just won't cooperate- so all she can do right now is crawl in circles.  Which gave Derek and I a good laugh.
  • And here's my other niece, Vada, the blondest and rolliest baby ever.  (Maybe not ever.  But definitely in this post.)

And I haven't seen either one of them in MONTHS.  (Well, it's been about a month.  But that's a long time in baby land!)

The end.

Monday, October 1, 2012

How To Host a Successful Garage Sale

If you know anything about me, you know that I love garage sales (or yard sales, tag sales, rummage sales, whatever they call them in your neck of the woods).  It allows me to clothe our children in reasonably attractive clothing on a tight budget.  Plus I like what Derek calls junk, and I call antique/vintage/cool old stuff.

I've met quite a few people who have said they just can't get over the thought of going through someone else's stuff.  It doesn't bother me in the least.

I also realize that not everyone is going to swoon over a glass peanut butter jar from a defunct Des Moines factory with an expiration date of 5/24/1928, but I just love that kind of thing (COST ME 50¢, PEOPLE).  Or all the kitchen items I can find- tupperware, sifters, real silver utensils- that generally cost as little as 10¢ and never more than a dollar.  You can't find that kind of thing at those expensive Wal-Mart stores.

What I've found, however, through all this sale-combing, is that there are a whole lot of people out there who don't know how to throw a good garage sale.  They're just terrible at it.  They seem to be the ones who have never actually attended a garage sale themselves, and are just kind of winging it.

It's easy to tell the good sales from the bad:  the good ones have lots of people browsing and walking out with armloads of stuff, and generally the people hosting the sale are smiley and happy because they're making a lot of dough.  The bad ones, well- I really just want to tell those people that they shouldn't have wasted a weekend.

The thing is, throwing a good garage sale is pretty simple.  Notice I didn't say easy.  You're going to have to work for that money.  Still, if you have a couple kids or friends who will work for cookies, you should be able to knock the whole thing out pretty quickly.

So here it is (this week's excuse to make a list):

How to Host a Successful Garage Sale

Above all, you need to treat your sale like it's your own little store or boutique.  Think about what you look for in your favorite stores.  Things like:

Advertising:  First, you need to let people know your upcoming sale exists.
  • Local newspapers:  This is the more traditional method of advertising for your sales, and most newspapers now have an online option, which is especially helpful for all those people searching your area for sales online.  Usually pretty inexpensive.
  • Craig's List:  Helpful because you can write as much as you want, a lot of people use it as a sale search engine of sorts, and it's free.
  • No matter what route you go for advertising, don't just write vague descriptions like "Lots of stuff!"  No kidding.  This is a garage sale.  Write "Kids' Clothes" (and if you have unlimited space to describe your stock, include whether for boy or girl, a range of sizes, or if you have nice clothing to sell, say something like "Brand Names"), "Kitchen Supplies," etc.
  •  PLEASE DON'T LIE.  And when I say, "Don't lie," I mean don't label your collection of VHS tapes as "Vintage."  FYI, common parlance among antique dealers states that "antique" is anything 100+ years old, "vintage" is 50-100 years old (although technically, the word "vintage" should always include a year- vintage 1943, vintage 1972, etc- vintage was traditionally used to denote the year a wine was produced).  Your collection of 1990's Hotwheels is not "vintage."
  • If you don't want early birds (people that come in the hour before the stated start time), you need to specify that: "No early birds."
  • Make your sale stand out.  If you're moving, write it down:  "Moving Sale!"  If you're cleaning out twenty years worth of stuff, down-sizing, cleaning out your kid's closets, or just super excited to be having a sale, say it!

Signs:  Not only help people find the sale they're looking for (that would be yours), but also draws in people that just happen to be driving or walking by.   

  • Those little plastic signs you can buy that say "Garage Sale" are nice, but please realize that they're pretty small and can easily get lost if there are a lot of For Sale signs or political ads anywhere near them.  They also provide a small space for you to write in your address.  Generally, this address is written so small that it's nearly impossible to read as you're driving by.  
  • For my money, I'd buy several brightly colored (think hot pink or eye-searing green) pieces of poster board, and put up a whole mess of signs.  Put your first one up at the closest major intersection or at the entrance of your housing development.  And I know it's tempting to use fancy script or use different colors for each letter, but DON'T DO THAT.  Simply write GARAGE SALE in big block letters, under that write your address, perhaps the days and hours of the sale if you have room, and then a big arrow pointing in the direction of your sale
  • You're not done yet.  You need to put up another sign about every block or so with more arrows pointing in the correct direction.  I always enjoy when they say fun things like, "ALMOST THERE!" and "YOU'RE SO CLOSE!"   Don't forget to put another sign up in front of your house ("YOU MADE IT!"), especially if the bulk of your sale is actually in the garage.

Don't Go It Alone
  • Check around your neighborhood.  Maybe your neighbors have a bunch of stuff they want to get rid of, too, and would be interested in having a neighborhood garage sale.  Those things draw in hordes of people.  (I am not kidding.  Hordes.)
  • If you don't really have that much to sell, see if any of your friends or family has some stuff they want to sell.  When I have a long list of sales to hit, I will drive right by a sale if it looks like there's not much there.  
  • If you do end up having a sale of only your things, make sure you're not there by yourself.  You need someone to walk around and make sure things are relatively tidy, answer questions, and just generally keep an eye on things, while someone else mans the cash transactions.  Plus, you never know when some psycho is going to wait until you're the only one there and come try and abduct you.  I'm just sayin'.

  • If you've ever worked in retail, you know what I mean.  If not, then listen up:  people aren't going to want to buy your stuff if it looks less like "stuff" and more like "crap."  Set out plenty of tables so that there's plenty of room to display all your stuff. 
  • If you're selling clothes, don't make piles more than a few shirts deep; if you have towering stacks of clothes, people will go through the first few items, then give up because it's frustrating and time-consuming to try and sort through twenty pairs of jeans in one pile.  Also, if you have dresses, coats, or plenty of nice tops, try and get your hands on a portable clothing rack to hang those things on.  People are more likely to buy clothing if they can actually see it and it's easy to inspect.
  • Wash clothes.  Disinfect toys.  Wash kitchen utensils.  Make everything as clean and presentable as possible.  (Note: Not applicable to true vintage and antique items.  Just dust those with a dry cloth.)
  • Even if you're the least organized person every other week of the year, you need to be organized now.  Group like items together.  Don't just dump stuff randomly on a bunch of folding tables and assume it will sell.  It won't.

  • This is a tough one.  A lot of it depends on what area of the country you live in; I've found that the closer to the coasts you get, the higher the prices, both in general and at sales.
  • I've found that most clothing items around here (central Iowa) range anywhere from 25¢ to $5.00.  Well, I should say most reasonable pricing is within that range.  I've come across sales where they're asking $15 and $20 for a fancy little girl's dress- if you're that attached to something or feel like it's worth that much, you should consider taking it to a consignment shop.  I generally get my kids' shirts for 25¢ to $3 (if it's a really nice, heavy sweater), and pants for 50¢ to $3.  Coats go up to about $10, but they need to be in great shape to ask that much.  If your clothing has holes or shows heavy wear or stains, you can make it really inexpensive, but chances are it probably won't sell no matter what.
  • If you're getting a lot of foot traffic but nobody's buying anything, chances are your prices are too high.
  • You can get those stickers that say 25¢, 50¢, $1, etc at Wal-Mart, you can use little pieces of masking tape and write your own prices in (and your initials if it's a joint sale with friends), or just put up some poster boards with prices listed:  "All shirts: 50¢, All Kitchen Items: 75¢, Hardcover Books: $1."  As long as you have a clear and easy-to-follow pricing system.  But PLEASE don't do one of those "All Prices Are Negotiable!  Make Me An Offer, and We'll Come Up With a Price!" things.  ANNOYING.   

And Don't Forget
  • Have plenty of small bills and coins: Lots of ones, fives, and tens, and quarters, too, if you've marked your stuff for 25 or 50¢.
  • If it's really hot out that day, consider offering free water or cups of lemonade (or if you have kids, help them set up a little lemonade and cookie stand, with lemonade for 25¢ and 2-3 cookies in baggies for around 50¢).  If it's colder, try hot chocolate.  
  • Don't sell your underwear.  Just don't.  Throw it away.
  • Make your sale as long as you can.  Anymore, the standard seems to be Friday mornings and/or afternoons through Sunday afternoons, although some start on Thursdays and some choose to end it on Saturdays.  The longer the sale, the greater the likelihood you're going to get rid of everything.
  • Smile!  Be friendly!  I don't care if you've had a terrible day/week/life, I don't care if you don't really want to be there, I don't care if you don't like human beings in general.  If you want people to buy your junk, you need to be nice to them.  It will not kill you to show some kindness for two days, and come Monday, you can go back to your miserable little existence. 

Okay, my fellow garage salers.  What did I forget?