Since organizationally I totally missed the first day of school, I took this year's spring cleaning very seriously. VERY. SERIOUSLY. I printed out last year's two-page typed list of chores, updated it to three, and assigned everything to fit into a two-week cleaning schedule. The list is pretty important, because I really like being able to check off each chore accomplished:
Scrub and disinfect the trashcans (check - GROSS!!!)
Move the refrigerator and vacuum underneath (check - Add "call the chiropractor" to the list.)
Touch-up paint the downstairs (check - Keep the paint out. Ty just walked by with a Popsicle.)
Wash the windows and wipe down all the woodwork (check - I get one lousy check mark for two day's worth of work???)
You get the whole crazy, ugly picture...
My plan was to host a garage sale at the culmination of this cleaning rampage, because I was hoping to net enough money to buy a comfy reading chair.
The problem with cleaning a house that has four children in it, unfortunately, is that while I was waging war against a battalion of dust bunnies under the fridge, a nuclear bomb was going off in the family room. And while I washed one window, sticky hands were smudging up the other ten. I spent a lot of time re-cleaning the house and re-checking the list in my pursuit of one, perfectly organized, post-spring-cleaning day.
I also stretched my two-week schedule into three... which pushed the garage sale back to Memorial Day weekend... which is a really lousy time to host a garage sale.
Of course, I didn't realize my timing was bad going in. I was a woman on a mission to clean out and restore my house to its pre-child glory - and buy that coveted reading chair. So I dutifully posted an ad on Craigslist, made a collection of colorfully-ballooned and directionally-sound garage sale signs, and organized and tagged a yard-full of quality discard items. At the last minute, I picked up some Country Time Lemonade and a package of Styrofoam cups. My goal was to keep the kids away from my busy sale by distracting them with a lemonade stand.
Garage Sale Day dawned sunny and hot. Mom showed up early with bagels and shmear, which we ate quickly in preparation for the onslaught of early-morning customers. Since the sale started at 8:00, I wanted to be all set to go by 7:30. Ella, who it turns out was totally on board with the whole lemonade stand thing, was also ready by 7:30.
"Are people going to give us money for our lemonade?"
"How much money, Mommy?"
"Uh, how about a dime for each cup?"
"Nah. Let's do a quarter. We get to keep the money, right?"
"Sure, honey. Y'all can keep whatever money you make at your lemonade stand, and I'll keep the money I make at my garage sale. Sound good?"
Ella made a sign for the stand while Emily and Evie took turns pouring lemonade into cups. And Ty tasted it for them. Several times. They were all pretty proud:
By 8:00, the kids had gone through about half their product and were starting to wonder if any customers actually planned to show up. Just then, Ella spotted our next-door neighbor taking a pajama-clad walk of shame to deliver her garbage down to the curb.
"Miss J! Miss J! Come buy our lemonade! Over here! Come buy some lemonade!!!"
The kids all took off in hot pursuit of the embarrassed Miss J, who managed to make it back into her house before they reached her with their lemonade-filled Styrofoam cups. Lucky for her, Ella spotted a car coming up the street before she could ring Miss J's doorbell.
"Hey, girls! It's customers! Customers! Hey! HEY!" She started chasing the car down the street. "Come buy our lemonade! And then go look at my mom's stuff!"
It turns out that no one in that particular car was interested in purchasing lemonade, or in looking at my stuff. However, Ella felt she was on to something and started shouting at every car that came down the street. Eventually, someone stopped and bought a cup - for $1.00. Then a couple more stopped. Miss J came back out - dressed now - with some money too. Even the garbage man hopped off his truck to buy a glass. Suddenly, the kids' lemonade stand was doing booming business. It didn't hurt that Nana, Papa, and Auntie M showed up about this time to enjoy a swig of Country Time.
Finally, FINALLY, one of the lemonade customers strolled up to peruse my garage sale goods. She picked up a chipped tea pot and handed me a dollar.
"There's a matching tea pot over here, if you'd like," I offered helpfully.
"I only have that dollar. I used my other change to get this lemonade."
"But I really like that second pot..."
"Oh, um, well here. I'll just give it to you, since that other one is chipped."
"Thanks!" She smiled and walked away just as I noticed the $20 bill hanging out of her pocket.
At least I had a second customer waiting in the wings. He'd already bi-passed the lemonade stand and moved on to inspect my junk. Evie, however, poured him a glass, chased him down, and handed him the drink anyway. Then she waited. Expectantly. Her four-year old stare (or was it the open hand) turned out to be more than he could handle, so he fished out a quarter, downed the lemonade, and headed back towards his car without making an offer on my kitchen table.
By 10:00, my mom and I had dubbed our day "THE MOST DISMAL GARAGE SALE DAY IN ALL OF HISTORY." Meanwhile, the kids' stand was hailed by all (mainly Ella) to be a huge success. I decided to close up shop early and headed off to collect my signs. While I was gone, Mom reported, Ella kept chasing cars. Apparently, one of them laid a wheel trying to get away from the scary little girl and her lemonade.
Her hard-sale tactics worked, though. In the end, Ella and her team made $8.79 in lemonade sales. If you subtract what I spent on signage, my garage sale netted -$9.00.
"Wow, Mommy. We did a whole lot better than you did. We're really good at making money. A lot better than you. You didn't sell much at your garage sale. What can we buy with all our money? Can we buy noodles to swim with a the pool? That would be a fun way to spend our money, since it's ours and we get to keep it. You don't really have any money to keep, do you? 'Cause we made more money than you."
I'm thinking about setting her up with a stand at the front of our neighborhood and renegotiating our original deal. There may be more than one way to get my hands on a new reading chair. But stay away from our street if you're not interested in buying some lemonade. You're liable to get stuck with a drink you didn't want.