Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tween Spa Party

I'm a little behind on my blogging.  I've been working on my book and I'm so excited to announce that I am getting a book published! Rebel Princess will be out June 2014.  I will post a picture of the cover as soon as my publisher sends it to me.  I'll blog more about the book when the release date gets closer.  Needless to say, I am very excited.

I've been meaning to post my daughter's birthday party for months.  (The green grass and shorts should give you an indication as to how long!)

For my daughter's 12th birthday, she wanted a spa party.  We decided to keep it simple.  See the decorations on the side of the house?  That was all the decorating and we even already had them in the basement.  Party's don't need to be extremely elaborate to be fun. 

I did secure the table clothes with an elastic band, as you can see in the picture.  That was to keep the cloth from blowing away.  Worked like  a charm and it's kind of cute too.  Win! My daughter's friends have faces.  I just blurred them out because they're not my kids.  I blurred my daughter's face too, just so she wouldn't feel left out. They're all adorable.  You'll have to take my word for it.

The first activity was to decorate shopping bags. I got fabric markers and rulers with lettering.  They all put their names on their bags so there wasn't any confusion.  I was surprised at how long they all took to decorate their bags.  They spent a lot of time chatting about boys and camps that were coming up. They also sang funny parodies.  Twelve year old girls are too fun.  The bags turned out very cute and they were excited to take them home.  I found the canvas bags on Amazon in bulk.

Next, they filled their bags with goodies.  I found scented hand sanitizer at Bath and Body works for a dollar each.  We also found a 12 pack of flavored lip gloss for a few dollars at a party store.  Then we added all sorts of chocolates because my daughter insisted that girls needed chocolate at a spa party.

Once their bags were filled (and their mouths), we played a game of musical toes.  The pink table cloth isn't really necessary, but I thought some girls might not like sitting on grass.  It also made it easier if a bottle of polish was dropped.  For this game, I got a 20 piece lot of nail polish from Amazon for about $20. (The price has gone up since then.) The girls picked a color and I turned on some music.  When the music stopped, they painted a toe nail.  A few of the girls wanted to do finger nails instead.  I let them pick.  They all ended up with super cute multicolored nails. They got a little silly so it spread onto their toes too. 

I you're thinking of doing something like this, be sure to have polish remover handy.  Several girls wanted to remove the polish they had before painting with new colors. I had a little basket with all the polish, a bottle of remover, and cotton. It was nice doing it outside so we didn't have to worry about spills or getting remover on the carpet. 

After the game, I had them each add a bottle of polish to their bags.

Instead of cake, we did cute little cupcakes and ice cream bars.  For the cups, we put temporary tattoos on plastic cups.  They looked pretty fancy.  Most of the girls took their cup home instead of throwing it away.  I froze green punch in a star shaped ice cube tray and poured the lemon lime soda over it.  It was a huge success. It was cute and tasted really good.  I also had plain water available for the girls who didn't like soda.  The frozen punch worked well in water too.

I worried that we wouldn't have enough activities, but the girls spent a lot of time chatting, singing, playing with balloons, and taste testing chocolates so it filled up most of the time.  Once my daughter opened her presents and all the cupcakes were gone, the two hours were over and it was time for the girls to go home.

It turned out to be quite a successful party. The girls had a great time and I didn't spend a boatload of cash.  Win!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Super Easy Link Costume

I was walking my cute 3rd grader home from school on Tuesday and he told me they were going to have a superhero day and he needed a costume.  I said that sounded like fun.  When was the day? Turns out it was that Friday and he needed me to sew an entire Link costume. (I agreed only because he's going to use the same costume for Halloween.) Link is the hero in the Zelda video games.  There are also *graphic novels available. 

I've come to smash your pots and take all your rupees!

On Wednesday, I went to the store and bought the green undershirt and an XL men's shirt.  I put the XL shirt on my son and marked the places to cut and sew with chalk. (I was short on time and my camera is broken, so I made a lovely drawing to show what I did.)

I took the sides in and used a sleeve to make his hat.  I didn't hem anything. It gives it a rough look.  Also, I don't have any green thread.  It wouldn't have been pretty.
 I cut and sewed while my son was at scouts.  He tried it on on Thursday.  We added the belt and boots.  My husband took the picture so you can't see the boots. And he's wearing the whole outfit today.  Whew!

He couldn't have his sword or shield at school. They will be part of his costume for Halloween.  The light and dark green are swapped, but we weren't going for accurate on this costume.  We were going for fast. 

* A quick note on graphic novels.  They are more than just comic books.  Many of them are on a 5th - 6th grade reading level.  They are perfect for kids who read on a higher level, but have a shorter attention span.  They are also perfect for older kids who struggle with reading or kids that just enjoy reading them. My 9th grader still likes them. (He lets his little brother and sister check them out, though.)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

You may be addicted to the internet if . . .

1. You go through withdrawals every time your WiFi light blinks.
2. You posted pictures of your child sitting on the potty (for the first time!) on Facebook.
3. You've forgotten how to use a phone book.
4. You are seriously considering getting a waterproof phone so you can take it in the shower and not miss any new tweets.
5. Your children set the house on fire while you were checking Pinterest.
6. Your first impulse, upon seeing a massive zit somewhere on your body, is to take a picture and post it on Instagram.
7. Fresh air hurts your lungs.
8. You get tired while walking from your computer to the bathroom.
9. You constantly compare real life with a video game.
10. You turn every occasion into a tweet.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Back to school blues.

Just to be clear, I'm not feeling blue. This is my happy day.  I even wrote a song for the occasion. (Sung to the tune of The Sound of Music's Favorite Things.)

Alarm clocks that beep in the wee morning hours,
Kids that forgot to take their nightly showers,
What do you mean, your backpack is gone?
Why won’t you just put your new pants on?

Cute lacy skirts with no matching shirt,
Leggings that somehow got covered with dirt,
Someone is searching for their new shoes,
They are all dealing with back to school blues!

Eat some breakfast, put your shoes on,
You shouldn’t look so sad.
As soon as you’re all out the front door and gone,
Then I won’t feeeeeel soooooooooo bad!

Okay, I admit that I'll miss having them around all day, but I'm also excited for them to get out and grow. They're pretty good at growing.  They do it the moment I buy new clothes for them.  Happy back to school everyone!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dear Pissed Off Mom...

There has been a letter going around the internet that a woman sent to a mother with an autistic child.  It is rude and cruel.  If you haven't read it, the link is here. I know the woman in question will never see this, but I'm going to post it anyway.

Dear Pissed Off Mom,

I do not have an autistic child.  My kids are, as you put it, normal.  In fact, my kids are very bright.  All three read well above their grade level.  My oldest son even skipped 7th grade math and went straight to 8th grade honors math.

When we first moved into the house we live in now, there was a little boy in our neighborhood that scared my son. This was about nine years ago so my son would have been five.  This little boy often hit him and my tender hearted son couldn't understand why someone would be so mean.  I didn't understand either, but didn't do anything since he wasn't hurting anything but my son's feelings. After a while, we learned this boy was autistic.

I sat my son down and explained to him that this boy's brain was wired differently.  He had a hard time telling what was right and what was wrong.  I told him that the boy was still loved by Heavenly Father, even though he was different.  My son looked doubtful and opted to avoid the kid. I didn't blame him. No one likes to be hit.

Cub Scouts unite!
I was lucky enough to be put in charge of the wolf scouts (8 yr old scouts) a few years later.  I was nervous when the autistic boy joined our little group, but hoped we could find a way to include him. Autism wasn't something I was familiar with, but I read what I could and asked to his mom for advice. I also insisted he have an adult helper of his very own.

The boy was still randomly violent. (He bit another boy and I once had to physically remove him from my cat.) His attention span was short.  He wasn't able to do what most of the other boys could do, but the other boys didn't seem to mind.  They took him in like a little brother.  Even my own son got over his fear and helped out.  They made sure this autistic kid finished every project and completed every requirement we did together. It was an amazing thing to experience.  I expected the other boys to tease or make fun of this autistic kid.  I never heard one negative word toward him.  Not even from the boy he bit.

The boys are teenagers now.  The same age as Max.  My son has learned compassion from this boy. He has learned to look beyond the obvious and see the worth of someone who is different.  My son, who is reading on a college level and skipped a year of math, has learned from a boy who will probably never read. My son no longer fears this boy.  He likes him.  He considers him a friend.  He says the other boy is funny and he likes spending time with him.

So now I am going to do for you what I did for my son years ago.  Max's brain is wired differently from other boys.  He still has feelings.  He matters. He might make strange noises, but all kids do that.  Kids like making weird noises.  Max has so much to offer the world, if you only stop and take the time to see it.  I think if my son can learn compassion and kindness from someone so different, you can too.  Then once you understand, you can explain it to your own children.  They don't need to be afraid.  They can learn to see the worth of someone who is different. Maybe Max could even put a smile on their faces.

A Loving Mom

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Updating the old swing set

The swings broke on our swing set.  I looked up the cost for new swings (yikes! they're expensive). Our youngest is 8 and doesn't swing a lot. I thought about taking the whole thing down, but then we would lose the water slide.  (As noted before, my children are anti-water. They've seen The Wizard of Oz a few too many times. The water slide is for their friends and cousins who appreciate my brilliance.)

Incidentally, we found a way to get the slide in the pool.  The slide doesn't lift so we slid the pool under it before inflating.  It was one of those duh moments. If you want to check the original water slide post, go here.

Anyway, back to the swing part.  I decided to get rid of the swings and put in something that we can all enjoy - a hammock!

First, we rearranged the chains. We had one of those teeter totter things at the end so we left one side in place and moved the other as far to the other end as possible. My original plan involved canvas and a lot of wasted time.  As I said, that was my original plan.  We don't need to dwell on that.

Then we discarded the original plan and got a simple rope hammock from Amazon.  (My bamboo had quite the growth spurt, didn't it.  One day it will cover the neighbor's weird addition. I call it my bamboo jungle.  My husband calls it a weed bush.)

I used a knife to cut the plastic covering the chains and slid a hook inside, then I used the rope that came with the hammock to secure it.  Here's what it looks like.

 And some detailed shots of the set up.  You probably could just skip the chain but I wanted to be sure that it was secure (because falling isn't fun). I also hung the foot end a little lower than the head end so we wouldn't have our feet as high up as our heads.

The hammock would have been crooked if I hadn't used the chains.  The blue rope just keeps it from folding weird.

Here's a better shot of the hook I used.  I got them from Walmart.  They can support about 200 lbs each.

One more shot of the finished project.  My daughter is looking forward to curling up with a book outside.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Castle on the wall

When my daughter was little, I painted a castle on her wall.  She loved fairies and dragons and pink.

Her dragon pictures are crooked.  I'd get a picture of the entire wall, but then I'd have to include her desk, shelf, and dresser.  No one needs to see those disasters.

Over the years, she's added her own touch.  I think the butterflies are kind of cute.  We also put glow in the dark stars around the castle so it lights up the night sky in the background.  You can see one of the stars between the windows.

Some stickers have been there longer than others.

Now she's growing out of her castle on the wall.  Some of the stickers she added are peeling off.  Some of the fairies she put in the windows are gone completely. She's almost twelve.  She's almost in middle school (for us middle school starts in 7th grade).  She's almost grown up.  (Sniff.  This blog is seriously making me weepy) I've come to accept the fact that she's no longer a baby.  We've had THE talk, and she was horrified. (Keep thinking that way, kiddo - at least for another ten years.)

We still spend a lot of time together, but we no longer talk about fairies and magic.  (Unless we're talking Harry Potter, in which case she will go on and on.) She likes to talk about boys and how weird they are. We talk about her friends and how awesome they are. I've been teaching her to cook and use a curling iron. There are days when I miss the glitter and fluffy pinkness.  I've thought about painting over the castle on her wall, but we plan to build a room for her downstairs, so I don't want to tear her room apart just to have her move downstairs in another year.

This morning I was telling the kids goodbye as they headed off to school.  My youngest was already on across the yard and my daughter's friend was across the street.  I yelled goodbye to them all and then said to my daughter, "Have fun storming the castle." We're pretty big Princess Bride fans.  I used to yell this to them all the time, but she sort of grew out of it.

My daughter looked around and a little half smile appeared on her lips.

Then she said in a voice loud enough for me to hear, but no one else, "Think it will woik?"
"It'll take a miracle," I said.
She grinned, waved, and yelled, "Goodbye!"

It was just a little bit of magic, a tiny spark of glitter, but it was enough.  My daughter is growing up, but is still my little girl. She will always be my little girl. I think the castle on her wall can stay for a bit longer.

Monday, April 15, 2013

How to lower cholesterol without medication

I haven't blogged for a while. (Hides head in shame.) I've had this blog for a little over a year and I've gone in all sorts of directions with it.  I've posted recipes, crafts, drawings, random stuff... My son asked me why I haven't posted for a while and I said it was because I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with the blog.  I don't have a lot of followers and I was worried that it was too random. He said it was a blog about me being a mom.  Ha.  He's absolutely right.  Being a mom is pretty random and no one listens to me in that aspect either.  So, I'm back with all my randomness. Hi.

Here's a follow up on my cholesterol thing.  I went back to the doctor at the beginning of the year and my cholesterol was back in the normal range (woot!). I thought other people who are avoiding weird medications would like to know how I did it.

My youngest actually said that one day when we sat down to a nice healthy meal of mostly vegetables. His tongue might miss cholesterol, but his heart won't. :)

1- Exercise.  Ugh.  It's one of those necessary evils.  The key to actually exercising is to find stuff you enjoy. Try: video games that require movement, hula hooping, walking, running, hiking, a variety of exercise videos, exercise balls, playing with your kids, grocery shopping (not kidding), intense house cleaning, or elliptical machines. Don't do the same thing over and over again.  Switch it up and have fun with it. (Yes, I just put fun and exercise in the same paragraph.) Just get moving for at least 30 min a day.

2- Cut back on red meat. I still had the occasional nitrate free hotdog, but that was it.  Now that I'm just maintaining my cholesterol levels, I'll eat the occasional steak or burger.

3- More leafy green vegies.  I ate a lot of green salads.  Spinach, grated cheese, croutons, and pineapple salad with a small amount of ranch dressing. Don't do the low fat ranch.  The cholesterol in ranch is the good cholesterol.  Just don't go overboard with it.

4- Smoothies in the morning. I tried green smoothies, but couldn't get over the fact that I was drinking something that looked like alien ooze.  My smoothies consist of fruit, lowfat yogurt, and water.  Berries in the morning are really good for you. I actually lost about 8 lbs just from the smoothie breakfast alone.

5- Cut back on all animal products. I went easy on the cheese, meat, and milk.  I used only egg whites while I was lowering my cholesterol.  I've heard that eggs are good cholesterol, but I cut back any way just in case.

6- More beans! Black beans and pinto beans are a good meat substitute.

7- Lemongrass essential oil.  I have no idea if the lemongrass helped or not since I was doing so many other things.  I actually use it for my knees and carpal tunnel, but it is supposed to also help lower cholesterol so I'm including it on my list.

8- Cut back on sugar.

9- No fried foods. (I admit that I snitched an occasional french fry, but fried foods are the worst for cholesterol.)

10- Use olive oil instead of butter for cooking and keep the heat low.

11- Substitute sugar free (no weird sweeteners) applesauce for oil in cooking.  It changes the texture, so you can do half apple sauce/half oil.

12- Read labels.  Get to know what you're actually eating.  If the ingredients list requires a chemistry degree to understand, you probably don't want to eat it. Fresh is best.

13- Drink more water.

Basically, you have to do all the stuff your mother has been telling you all your life if you want to lower your cholesterol without medication. I was willing to go for the medicine if I had to, but they always come with side effects. These few changes in my diet and lifestyle have given me more energy and helped me lose those last few baby pounds. (My baby is 8 O_o)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Essential Oils: Resistance is Futile

When I first heard about Essential Oils, I thought they were something long haired hippies used in place of real medicine so they could stick it to the man shortly before they died due to lack of proper medical care. Then I realized that some of my neighbors were using it and I’d never once seen any of them running naked down the street singing freedom songs. (For that I’m extremely grateful.) And it wasn’t just one or two neighbors; it was like a Borg infestation of naturalness. Essential oils were everywhere and I was quite determined to not be assimilated.

When my son was stung by a wasp last summer, and I realized my Benadryl had expired, I called a neighbor to see if she had any on hand.  My family has a history of severe bee allergies and while he hasn’t ever had a reaction to a sting, I wanted to be cautious.  My fabulous neighbor brought her Benadryl over along with a little bottle of Lavender oil. (Gasp, she’d been assimilated.  I still let her in. She had Benadryl.) My son was screaming in pain. (Always the dramatic one.) I don’t like giving my kids more than one medicine at a time, so Tylenol was out of the question.  Benadryl was more important.  The Lavender wasn’t something he had to take internally so I put a drop on the sting hoping for a good placebo effect.  He stopped crying and didn’t swell up like a balloon. (Win-win!)

I get anxious when I have to drive to new places, meet new people, and be in the spotlight. It's not anything major, just minor stomach upset.  Needless to say, I was worried about the book signings last month. I didn't need to feel sick on top of feeling nervous. That was when I decided to try Essential oils on myself.  Smells can be calming and I’d already used them on my son.  I didn’t even mind if it was just a placebo effect.  After all, the anxiety was all in my head anyway. So I decided to try the Balance blend. (Thereby proving that resistance was futile.)

 I have to admit the Balance blend is pretty awesome.  It totally took care of my anxiety and I made it through all my book signings without running away or screaming freedom songs at the top of my lungs while running through the bookstore. Before Balance, I often felt tired and rarely wanted to exercise.  After the Balance, I started feeling like I wanted to exercise (which some may argue is actually a sign of craziness.) I’ve found myself more on task and less on Facebook. (Sorry friends.  I still love you.) I decided to try it on my kids.

Parent teacher conferences are always a joy (I even typed that with a straight face.) Every teacher tells us the same thing.  “(insert name of my child here) is really smart.  Look at these amazing test scores,” shows us amazing test scores. “If only they would focus and turn in their homework. And that’s why I had to fail them.” Okay, so they don’t actually say that last part.  But their grades do not reflect how smart they are.  All three read way above grade level.  Their CRT scores are perfect.  My oldest skipped 7th grade math and went straight to 8th grade honors math.  We’re talking brilliant kids. Why can’t they turn in their freaking assignments? (Sorry about the bad word. It just gets frustrating. Wait, assignments is only a bad word for my children. I don't need to apologize.)

I’ve been using Balance and In Tune for my youngest.  He’s my biggest wild card.  You never know what you’re going to get from him.  Usually he’s contest to read his kitty books or sit on his bed spinning things. I like to think of this as a sign of his brilliance.  Geniuses are quirky, right? He actually told his first grade teacher during one of those super fun conferences that math would be more exciting if she would teach division. (On a side note, if you’ve ever watched The Middle, the youngest kid, Brick, is totally my son if you mix his personality with the friend who thinks he’s a cat.) Anyway, last week I asked his teacher if she’d seen any difference in him and she said she had noticed that he was actually finishing, and turning in, assignments. (Win!) I’m also seeing assignments come home that are graded instead of blank. (Another win!)

My daughter doesn’t need the oils as much as my boys, but since I started using Balance on her, she actually remembered to talk to her teacher about all the Social Studies assignments she was missing. (Which would be every assignment minus one.) Then she brought them home and finished them. Today I will find out if she remembered to turn them in.  Baby steps. My oldest has own bottle of Balance that he keeps in his pocket and rarely uses.  He is also still grounded because of his last report card.

So there you have it.  A brief rundown of why I started using Essential Oils. I’ve been using other oils than the ones mentioned here, so I’ll keep posting about the different kinds as I learn more.  My kids still lose their focus, but the oils help them regain it.  I’ve also noticed that they have a better hold on their emotions when they use the oils.  Traditional medication for ADD or ADHD can make kids lethargic and the science isn't complete.  I like having something natural that helps my kids, but doesn’t change them. We still have challenges, but now we have a tool to help us get over the hurdles.

*Please note that no freedom songs were sung in the writing of this blog. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

New Year: New Goals

I've mentioned before that I don't do New Years Resolutions.  Resolutions are too absolute.  I will eat healthy this year! Yeah, right.  One look at the left over Christmas goodies, and you've broken your resolution.  That's why I do goals.  I'm working toward something.  I don't expect to have it mastered the moment I decide to do it.  

My goal this year is to teach my kids to work.  I'll do this through follow up and example. The example part is the hard one.  I told them that I would have the entire basement organized by the end of the year. If you've seen my basement, you'll understand why this is such a daunting task.  I don't plan on doing it in binge cleaning sprees.  I'm going to do it in 15 minute intervals a few times a week.  It doesn't sound like a lot of time, but it adds up.  You can do a lot in 15 minutes. (I must thank Flylady for that bit of enlightenment.)

I realize I just said that the example part is the hard one.  Actually, they are both hard.  I have to remember to follow up with my kids. I found a book on Pinterest called Cleaning House: 

A Mom's Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement. It's a monster of a title.  Anyway, you can find it here if you're interested.  I really liked some of her ideas for getting her kids to stop expecting everything to be done for them. 

In the book, the author put a jar with 30 one dollar bills in each child's room and then removed a dollar when an expected task was not completed. By the end of the month, the children got to keep what was left.  I thought that $30 was way too much allowance so I went for $20. My husband thinks $20 is too much, but then his allowance was $1 a month.  I cannot believe he and his siblings did as much work as they did for such a pittance. (We grew up in the 80s and 90s, not the 50s). 

Anyway, we had previously been giving our three children an allowance based on their age and then deducting whatever we thought was fair based on the lack of work they contributed.  They didn't really care.  However, since we've put a bag of money in their rooms, they don't want to lose that money so they're more willing to do the work.  I've also explained to them that since their allowance is considerably higher, they'll have to buy some of the extra things I'd been buying for them.  I get them a certain amount of clothes and if they want more, they pay for it.  The trick here is that I have to remember to check their work.  O_o

We actually started this in December.  All they had to do was make their bed in the morning.  I even reminded them. If they went to school with an unmade bed, I took a dollar out of their bag. Then when they got home from school, they had to complete their chores.  Each kid has an assigned task every week day.  They have a chart on the fridge to help them remember.  If they didn't complete their chore, and have it pass parental inspection, they lost another dollar.  There was a lot of grumbling, but December was ultimately a success. All three kids are now making their beds consistently and completing their chores.

This month they have to make their bed neatly (I was lenient that first month on the wrinkles.  Baby steps), have their room generally picked up, complete their chores, and help cook dinner once a week.  It is a little harder for them, but they are doing it.  This morning I was actually able to get the vacuum into the two younger kid's rooms.  I am rejoicing in the cleanliness. Each month I will add something else to their list.  I haven't followed exactly how the book went.  My kids already knew they were supposed to make their beds, clean their rooms, and do their chores.  What's different is that I'm following up and there is an immediate consequence if they don't do it.  Also, having them help with dinner has been a learning experience all around.  I learned that my youngest didn't know how to operate a can opener yesterday. Now he does.

I'll update about how it's going as the year goes by.  I'm not including a lot of detail here because I'm not sure if anyone is really interested.  I guess I'll know by the number of hits this post gets.  I always welcome comments too. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What I learned from all those signings

I did five signings in the month of December.  That was crazy.  It's also what happens when your book is a Christmas book.  You only get one month. Here's a shot of me at my first signing.  I'm totally giving the camera a 'just hurry and take the picture look.' I couldn't believe how crowded that store was. 

Two of my three kids came to see me.  My youngest proudly declared to anyone who would listen (not that they had a choice) that I was his mom and I wrote The Candy Cane Queen.  I have the cutest cheering section ever.  My teenager was at home doing homework. He did come to other signings, just not this one.

Here's a shot of my freshly painted candy cane striped nails. There were some spots I needed to fix, but it wasn't bad for a quick job.  I hand painted those stripes on both hands.  Not an easy task.

My book is a 16 page Christmas story.  It's a little pamphlet that comes with an envelope and is easy to mail.  They make the perfect long distance gift or inexpensive gift for neighbors. Some things I learned with these signings won't necessarily help with a traditional book.

I sold over 80 copies of my book at my first signing in Seagull Book. That was phenomenal. The next Seagull signing was 40, then down to 20, and the last was about 15.  I also did another signing at a university bookstore.  I'll go over that one later.

The first signing was in a crowded store on the first Saturday in December.  People were there to buy and not only to buy, but to buy in bulk. I had several people buy 8-15 copies at once.  They went to the store specifically to buy a stack of those little booklets to give as neighbor gifts, home teaching gifts, and gifts for visiting teaching sisters. The books sold for 2.49 each.  They make great gifts. The best time to sell these booklets is at the beginning of the Christmas season.  I sold half as many books at my second signing because most people already had purchased their bulk gifts.  I was amazed at the number of people I talked to who said they'd already bought my book.  (They also said they loved it, which is nice.) I didn't sell any multiple copies at my third and fourth signings.

If I ever do one of these pamphlets again, I will cram pack signings into the first two weeks of December and leave the two weeks before Christmas to my family. It would probably be good to do that for a traditional book too.  Most people were in a hurry and just needed a few things they forgot by the time those last two weeks rolled around.

I will very quickly touch on the university bookstore.  The people in the bookstore were very nice.  The students were nice too, but they were going to class, not shopping.  I wouldn't recommend doing a signing at a university bookstore unless you are there for a conference and there are several other authors signing with you.

I am not a super social person.  That is why I brought my bin of candy canes. It's easier to ask a person if they want a candy cane than to ask them to look at your book.  I'm not a saleswoman.  Most people would take a candy cane and then the adorable cover would catch their eye.  I sold the majority of my books by simply offering customers a candy cane.

Location made a really big difference. The best spot to sign is by the entrance.  From there, I was able to offer customers a candy cane when they walked through the door.  Some locations had me by the checkout line, which wasn't optimal since people were already done with their shopping by the time they saw me.

A lot of people noticed my fingernails.  As strange as it sounds, it worked for me.  My book is The Candy Cane Queen.  I had candy cane striped fingernails and was giving away candy canes.  Gimmicky? Yes, but it worked.

One thing I had to work on was my one sentence spiel.  People asked me what it was about and at first I just handed the book to them and had them read the back cover.  Lame.  I know.  I forced myself to work on a hook after that.

My kids' enthusiasm also contributed to sales for the short time they were there.  Their cute little faces and smiles attracted attention. Just having people there, draws attention.  If something is going on at your table, other people will look.  If they like what you have, they will buy.

My family and neighbors are awesome.  I could not believe how many of them showed up to see me and buy my book.  A few of them even bought in bulk.  Most bought one or two.  The important thing is that they took the time to come see me.  How cool is that?

I spent two to three hours in each store, but the employees work up to eight hour shifts.  I worked hard to make sure they liked me.  They're the people who actually sell my book.

I got hit with the flu for that last week before Christmas so I was sick during my last two signings.  I kept hand sanitizer next to me and washed my hands frequently.  I wanted to share the joy, not the germs. I also turned down a chance to do a sixth signing.  I looked like death warmed over.  It's not the best way to sell books.

The last thing I want to talk about is something I think is common among writers: anxiety.  I have mild anxiety and get physically sick when I go to unfamiliar places and have to talk to unfamiliar people. This is not optimal for book signings.  I heard about something called essential oils.  I thought they sounded kind of weird, but it also made sense that a scent could be calming.  I may blog a little more about them later when I know more, but the important thing is that they worked for my anxiety.  My point on this is not that everyone should run out and buy essential oils.  It's that you need to do something about your anxiety (if you have it) before you go to book signings.

I would love for any other author to post their favorite tips for signings in the comments.  I hope to have more books published and can use all the advice I can get.