Wednesday, July 26, 2017

the one with the picture

one year and six days ago we saw our sweet girl's face for the first time. our agency sent out an inquiry email, asking if we would be interested in more info for a little girl they were about to put on the waiting child list. and of course we said yes. and then there she was. just a tiny little babe, various pictures of her crying and holding a cookie. and we were suspended in this moment between then and now, where we knew our son or daughter was out there but knew nothing about them and here was this child in an e-mail that could be our daughter but who knew because how actually do you make a decision like that? and we had exactly 12-hours to say yes or no and i just remember looking at evan and saying, "the only reason i can think to say no is money. and i don't think that's a legitimate reason for Jesus." and so we said yes.

we said yes one year and six days ago.

and yesterday was a hard day for me. watching a handful of my agency's families travel to ethiopia to bring home their daughters (of course. make it as hard as possible.) and i don't know how i can possibly wait two more months. and that is just me relying on the power of prayer and believing that Jesus will answer my pleas for an October court date.

we are currently in the middle of what is called the i-604 investigation. this process happens in ethiopia to make sure that our daughter is an abandoned or relinquished orphan (we know her story but they want to prove that it's true and she's not being trafficked). and now we are waiting on two people to be interviewed by the embassy for further proof of this. one is a police officer and he is already refusing to come in for the interview without a court order but it's not through the court so the court has nothing to do with it so there can't/won't be a court order so basically we won't get his interview (they always do that). and the other was her guardian and we haven't heard back on whether or not she will come to the embassy.

SO. praying that this will be resolved quickly. that we'll either get these interviews done or they'll write the letter excusing them (i mean, like what even is this process) and we'll be granted our PAIR approval.

one hundred billion steps for each piece of the puzzle.

we got this picture this morning from another mama whose sweet girl is also at our orphanage. i officially cannot handle it. my heart longs for her today. i've been on the fine side of things through this whole process but i can feel myself slowly starting to unravel at the edges. and the hilarious part to me is that i want her here now but we don't even have a bed for her yet. crying and laughing about that at the same time, all the time. and sweet maddox, asking all the time when we'll go get his sister. so much sweetness, i can hardly handle it.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

clinging for life to all you promise

i have been one shaky, teary HOT mess today, y'all.

because we got ethiopian approval today. you read that right. the thing that was just closed (MOWA) approved us to adopt zara.

my agency called me today at 12 just as evan and i sat down for lunch. i saw her name pop up, started sweating and flapping my arms, you know, all chill things because i have no chill, and she's like, "hi larissa. do you know why i'm calling?" well now all of mccormick's knows THAT WE HAVE MOWA APPROVAL THANKS TO MY SHOUTING. 

you guys. i've been boldly praying for not quite two weeks. and with those bold prayers, i have literally been fighting off fear and it is exhausting. i did not actually know how much fear i literally carry around internally with me on the daily. my inner monologue is seriously this:

"but what if we don't get approval and then we don't get to travel?"
"we need both MOWA and PAIR approval and it's only two things but that's a lot to depend on in four-months."
"october is not that far away. is this the most ridiculous request i've ever made?"
"what if they want us to travel this weekend because we can't because we have a wedding."
"courts are closing. when do courts close? how long do they close for? what if they don't open until november for some reason? i should email CHI and ask them."

it is bad. it is constant. even just wondering the dates of court closure for rainy season could send me in a spiral down a deep hole of panic about what needs to happen before we can go. so i have to physically repeat 2 timothy 1:7 (sometimes outloud) to myself. but i am constantly fighting off a spirit of fear that i did not realized i carried around like the worst best friend in all of history. this best friend is not good to me and must go. i am constantly telling myself, my thoughts, "NO." firmly and over and over again ("take every thought captive and make it obedient to christ." 1 corinthians 10:5) and training my thoughts to not even turn to fear when something is a little hard or a little unknown. it literally is a workout for your entire soul. i dig it.

and if you would like to continue to hear about how great is our God, read on. because not only do we have MOWA approval, but our agency is working to get us a court date at the beginning of october. the courts will close for august and september for the rainy season and open right back up in october. i already knew this when i began asking for october but it is still dependent on these two approvals. so it's not cheating. 

even though God literally plucked this mountain from right in front of my face and chucked it across the whole wide world, we are not finished yet. we still need PAIR approval (3-6 months). we need to buy our tickets. i still want to travel with my two friends (and our three girls are all at the same orphanage now so if you don't think that's a promise from God, i'm sorry we can't be friends anymore.) and they need their approvals, too. we need airline miles. we need billings tickets to not be literally $10,000 + your right arm so we don't have to drive to bozeman or denver to fly out.

PRAY WITH US. your prayers are being heard. HE IS THE GOD WHO SEES US. 

but dang. we are celebrating so many victories (BABIES CAME HOME ON FATHER'S DAY) and so many mountains being absolutely obliterated. i turned on my adoption playlist on spotify this morning and the first song that came on was "unstoppable God" by elevation. so if you ever wondered if God uses spotify, HE SURE DOES. "faith commanded and the mountains moved. fear is losing ground to our hope in you....impossible things in your name they shall be done."

God is SO good. i know i have a lot of words here, but i'm also speechless at this excitement. we mostly have words of THANKS for joining us on this journey. for asking and caring and praying with us. for the people who tell us they're also praying for fall with us. THANK YOU. our girl is coming home!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

you move the mountains

evan and i have been listening to "do it again" by elevation worship non-stop for the past few weeks. it has become our daily prayer to cover this adoption season, this unknown. i've always given each season of life and struggle a worship song and i cannot believe how seriously perfect this song applies: "i've seen you move, you move the mountains. and i believe i'll see you do it again." because on april 21, ethiopia shut down adoptions without any explanation. the worst part of all of it has been the rumors floating around about why and how long and what it means for us as this specific part of our journey, because some of the rumors are terrible and i'm over here like, "LALALALALALALALA I CAN'T HEAR ANYTHING YOU'RE SAYING BYE."

i don't do super great when there aren't a ton of details. if you cannot answer all of my questions, don't even bother coming to me with the story because i literally need all the details. all of them. so my stress level has been extreme.

but i also have surprised myself during this season. my typical control freak personality has sort of stepped aside for this open-handed personality to take over. there is absolutely nothing i can do (i've already done it all: contacting my reps, sending letters, asking my friends to do the same, etc.), so this is me: "fine God. take it. i don't even want it." AND SO. he took it and he has it and i can confidently tell you that when you let God have your problems, IT IS SO MUCH BETTER TO LIVE LIKE THAT. also, i keep reminding myself that the God who brought us through $8,000 in seven days would not have brought us through that to leave us here. (whenever something is too much for me, i just remember that. it is probably the only thing keeping me going.)

SO. here's a little timeline of what has happened since the suspension:

april 21 -- suspension announced

may 2 -- my birthday and nothing happened. 

may 5 -- our case went to the first court date. an orphanage rep appeared and if the court decided to continue our adoption case then our case would be sent to MOWA (ministry of woman and children's affairs) but because MOWA was suspended, it just stayed at the court.

june 5 -- the start of the busiest, most stressful week. i start to lose my mind and feel attacked on all sides.

june 6 -- several families receive the letters they were waiting for to get their children out of the country. possible sign that MOWA is working again. we all casually FLIP. OUT. and pray that the suspension is over.

june 8 -- i realize that if MOWA is working again, then my case should be at MOWA. we find out that OUR CASE IS INDEED SUBMITTED TO MOWA!

june 8 -- take evan lunch and receive e-mail that we've also been submitted to PAIR (pre adoption immigration request)!

june 8 -- realize why i'm having such a stressful and terrible week and why i'm feeling attacked on all sides, hello.

ethiopia has literally said NOTHING to anyone about the suspension. it's kind of like a passive aggressive friendship being rekindled. no one says anything about the fight you just had. you just pretend like nothing ever happened and get on with your business. i'm just going to keep walking around on my tip toes until zara is home.

we now get to wait some more on these two submissions to be accepted. once they're accepted we'll get a court date and we'll go get our girl! (in tears just even typing that up.) PAIR can take 3-6 months and MOWA can take just as long as they please. there's a lady from my agency who had PAIR and MOWA approval within two weeks. others are waiting over a year. MOWA is basically a matter of where your paperwork lands on the stack.

so here's the thing: i've been saying since the beginning that the travel unknown is my worst fear. i have asked my agency no less than 15 times when i will be traveling and at this point, they just tune me out. i didn't actually realize that this was a fear until this weekend when i was discussing child birth with a mama friend of mine. (hi mary!) i pretend it's not a fear by saying, "travel stresses me out." but no. let's call it what it is: A FEAR. and so, my mama friend was telling me how she prayed for specific details before the births of her children, requests if you will, and these were incredibly specific. like down to the time of day she wanted her children to be born. AND GUESS WHAT? God delivered. so i'm like fine. i'm claiming this fear. i'm taking ownership of this stress and this fear and i'm not going to let it rule over me any more. so i have started praying for incredibly specific aspects of our travel.

+1 i'm praying that we'll travel at the beginning of october.
+2 i'm praying that our airline tickets will cost around $1,000 per person.
+3 i'm praying that we'll be able to travel with two other families (we know them, they're both adopting little girls and one of the girls is at the same orphanage as zara).
+4 that someone would gift us their airline miles.

i kept thinking about how silly #4 is. we want to fly UAE and so who is even going to have miles on UAE and can you even do that? but then God keeps reminding me that a) no mountain is ever too big and b) did he not raise us $8,000 in seven days?

we would LOVE if you would pray with us for these four specific things. we can't wait to see how God answers our prayers and to continue to watch zara's adoption story unfold.

"for God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind." 2 timothy 1:7

Thursday, November 10, 2016

unending love, amazing grace

exactly one week ago evan and i were sitting in the parking lot of the post office sending out a few prints and our phones buzzed at a new e-mail at the exact same time. it had been a week on constant e-mail refreshing as we awaited our referral documents and new pictures and the financial invoice and all the answers to the 500 new questions that pop up daily. evan and i have the type of relationship where one of us loses our heads and the other is completely chill. so, evan first. he tried to open the invoice attachment but couldn't so i tried on my phone. and there it was. twenty three thousand, three hundred and seventy five dollars.


that's a chunk of change.

and you guys know the story. you know how we were about $8,000 away from that amount and to make matters worse, we had exactly 14-days to pay it.

and so, like i said, evan freaks out and i'm calm. i freak out and evan is calm. so he went first. he's the protector. he cares for us. money is always on his mind. i'm the exact opposite about money so i'm like, IT'S TOTALLY FINE! oh my gosh! let's watch what God does! as i'm laughing hysterically because i don't even know what else to possibly do.

and then we went to ask my parent's advice because they have all the money answers (literally. all of them. i trust their advice over anything when it comes to money.) and as we were talking i could feel the weight of this problem creeping up into my chest and i was doing everything in my power to act calm, act natural when all i wanted to do was hide behind a door and scream.

and then we left their house (with three jars of my mom's homemade tomato soup, which is the best soup in the whole world for moments of stress because tomatoes are my comfort food) and i started flapping my arms and stressing out while evan literally told me to chill out because i was the one who had been so calm an hour ago. NO MORE.

we'd already prayed about the situation before we met with my parents but i don't think i've stopped praying since we opened that e-mail.

because this thing that i'm doing right now, these past seven-days, this is the hardest thing i've ever had to do. i don't like to ask for help. i like to be independent and do things myself and do them correctly and not worry about the stress on other people and blah blah blah. literally every fundraiser i've done that involves people in a place (ie: garage sale, spa night), i'm like, "i don't need help." then proceed to give evan and probably my mom a list of things to do and then other people force me to let them help and then i'm so unbelievably grateful that they forced their help upon me but then the next fundraiser comes along and i'm like, "nope. i'm good. don't need help. that would be rude to ask." AND THEN I LITERALLY DIE FROM THE STRESS. even though, once again, people force their help upon me and i'm so so so so so grateful.

SO. this. asking for help. trusting that God has this all planned out and knows exactly where each dollar of this adoption will come from. and every time i get anxious about this process, God jumps in with a wise word from a friend, the exact word that i need to hear in that moment.

for example, last night i was telling my dear bible study girls that after this big ask, i will feel so guilty asking for any more money. that we have done NOTHING these past two weeks besides ask for money (lie, BIG FAT LIE.) and how people will be so over us. but they obviously spoke truth over me and brought comfort and peace AND TRUTH.

and all the people who have said, "thank you for letting us in on your story." no, THANK YOU for being part of our story. for making this possible for us. for encouraging us.

we've been so humbled this week because my life is one big fight against God to relinquish control. i don't want to. i want to hold onto all the things in my life and control it all and be in control and have control and i don't. i have zero control and that's terrifying for this control freak.

so to ask for help and say, we have nothing left. i can make you a print. it's a tiny little drop in the bucket of what we need but that is all i can give you right now, and for people to say, we don't even want anything in return. it's too much for me. we've been humbled and blessed beyond measure and i can't believe how much people love us and how much they love zara.

so when we opened that e-mail last week and felt the overwhelming sense of failure and fear that we couldn't do it, God stepped in and brought forth such generosity that we have probably cried daily as we see the money roll in. before 24-hours had even passed, we had raised over $3,000. seven-days have passed and we're $700 away.


i know. we can't comprehend this. God is so good. he is so, SO good. my friend carrie who doesn't have a facebook was like, "how did you do this?" i literally did nothing, girlfriend. nothing.

so, there you go. our money is due next wednesday the 16. we'll wire it from our bank and sit back and watch God in his wonders and miracles as we start the next phase of this journey.

we don't have anything left except for THANK YOU. thank you for being our tribe and for loving us beyond measure.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

she has a name

yesterday we announced the name for our baby girl. this is completely backwards from maddox because we a) didn't find out what we were having and b) didn't tell anyone the names we had picked out. but can you imagine? that would not work with adoption. the not finding out part.

we've had our name chosen since our second anniversary. i remember coming out of our house on the way to dinner and asking evan, "what do you think of the name zara for a baby girl?" we'd had our boy's name picked out since evan and i started dating over 10-years-ago. we always thought we'd adopt a boy first (aka, i'm still waiting for God to add a boy to this adoption), but we are so excited to add a girl to our family. but LOLOLOL to God's timing because we picked out her name and then found out i was pregnant a few weeks later.

we liked the name zara before we looked up its meaning but it means "princess" or "to blossom." LOVE LOVE LOVE. and her ethiopian name is actually a boy's name meaning "blessing." which a) i love boy's names for girl's (charley, blake, etc. YES.) and b) CAN YOU JUST. this entire process is just blessing after blessing. i'm telling you, GOD SEES THE LITTLE THINGS.

also, the cutest thing in the world is maddox talking about his sister. we have her picture on our fridge and maddox brought me to the fridge last night and said, "i love zara, mom."


Thursday, November 3, 2016

paper pregnant

i have been waiting to write this blog post since july 20th but so much has been top secret because adoption is tricky.

i'll give you a little timeline of what has happened since the end of july to catch you all up to speed:

july 20-alicia at CHI e-mailed us about a waiting child. it was a tuesday and evan was at college age and i was probably at home dying from my parasite like i did all summer. i sent him a thousand texts FREAKING OUT about it and dying until he came home. texted our moms and my bible study girls and was like "Y'ALL BETTER PRAY RAT NAOW."

--the referral was for a little girl who matched our profile (you have to specify medical/emotional/physical needs that you're willing to accept) and was in our desired age range (younger than Maddox) and had a medical necessity that required us to say yes or no within 24hours so they could get the funds to move her to a better orphanage and get whatever medicine/tests/whatever done.

--we literally said, "the only thing holding us back is money. we're saying yes." SO WE SAID YES. we would owe over $15,000 when we accepted the referral.

--here's another part of this story: we didn't even have our homestudy done. NO HOMESTUDY. but we've got a child. i had just turned in the last piece of paperwork FIVE DAYS BEFORE this e-mail. typically this is not how this happens >>>> more on that in a minute.

july 21-we said YES!

--since our homestudy wasn't done, we couldn't officially accept so we were only given a "soft referral," which meant that she would be ours if we could get our stuff turned in quickly. it also meant they wouldn't show her profile to any other families. 

--we didn't even have our homestudy scheduled and my agency was like PLEASE DO THAT A MONTH AGO. and so my gf callie was like, "give me something specific to pray for." i'm all, "my homestudy needs to be done and i don't even have an appointment for it." within an hour, my social worker had called us and set up our homestudy for that saturday, as in two days from the phone call.

july 22-clean the entire house. buy one million stupid outlet plugs. freak out about the rugs that move too much and the book case that isn't nailed to the wall (hint: IT'S NOT A BIG DEAL).

july 23-our social worker came for a few hours and interviewed us and questioned maddox about how he shares and is he excited for a brother or sister (I DIE, SO CUTE) and toured our house. she's amazing and we love her.

--we then went to shoot a wedding for the rest of the day. ALL THE NERVES.

july - august-meet with our social worker two more times to fill CHI's quota. do a million hours of online training.

august-feel like we're going to get our homestudy back any day and stressed about having no money (started with about $6,000 in july). i prepare all the grant stuff.

september-feel like we're going to get our homestudy back any day and still stressed about having no money. i complete all the grant stuff but can't send it in because lack of homestudy.

october-CRAZIEST MONTH OF MY LIFE. i don't know why i thought it was a good idea to schedule everything in one month but i did: a conference at our church (well, i didn't have anything to do with that), mini session and a spa night fundraiser ALL IN THE SAME WEEK. i almost died of lack of sleep. still feeling like we're going to get our homestudy back any day. i thought that because our social worker TOLD me she was finished with it and waiting on CHI to send it back. there was some sort of miscommunication about some papers so i waited for over two weeks from the point of it being finished and actually getting it back.

november-NATIONAL ADOPTION MONTH! our homestudy is approved by CHI! we can accept our referral! we accept! WE ACCEPT! we find out we have 14-days to make a payment and we've got our $15,000 ready to go! i have a weird feeling that it's not $15,000. guess what? it's not. there were two financial statements and i wasn't looking at the correct one when i was getting all excited about hitting our goal. i beat myself up, have a quick panic attack, cry to evan and FIGURE IT OUT. the actual total that we owe is almost $24,000. so we're about $8,000 away from our total THAT IS DUE IN FOURTEEN DAYS.

here are some things that i find incredible:

1. we got our referral acceptance on november 2nd because God knew i would straight up KEEL OVER if i found out that i can't read and was $8,000 wrong in my crazy stressful month. because i had a week of "rest" (it was not restful in the least) at the end of october in preparation for this new kind of crazy.

2. last year i wanted to announce our adoption during national adoption month. this year we get to accept our referral! WHO KNEW?! this year has flown by.

3. God is in the details. i know this. otherwise he wouldn't have made us do this completely backwards.

so, we get asked all the time about what a "referral" actually is. when you apply to adopt and are eventually matched with a child, the referral is basically the child. our babe came with a bunch of papers explaining why she's an orphan and her medical needs and height and weight and the things she can do like walk and talk, etc.

we filled out several applications for grants but because we're doing this out of order (proper order: homestudy > grants > other stuff > referral. our order: child > rest of the stuff), we don't even have time to receive any grants. this is literally a test of my faith, RN.

reasons we won't get any grants (probably):
grants take a bajillion weeks to be approved.
grants won't cover anything you already paid.
grants won't cover any loans you take out.
grants won't cover travel expenses.

we have a few more payments that we'll make to our agency so we can probably get a grant for a few thousand dollars but i was reading this other blog where they broke down their financial situation after their adoption and they received like $20,000 in grants and i'm like YES! I LOVE GRANTS! FREE MONEY! and then God was like, "actually no." so we don't know where this money is coming from. but we have faith. and $8,000 is a lot of money but shoot. i serve a God of miracles. #praisehands

we can't share many details about our babe but since we accepted the referral, we did announce that it's a girl! i may have secretly, not so secretly shared that on FB already but for those that missed it, WE HAVE A DAUGHTER!!! i can't believe those words! we've known since july. her picture has been on my fridge for months. but it's real now! THIS IS REAL LIFE!

if you made it this far, THANK YOU. thanks for praying. thanks for sharing in our JOY. thanks for being a part of our tribe to bring our love home. more to come. this story isn't finished.

 ps. maddox took this picture. he was like, "okay, now just mom." click click click. "okay, now just dad." click click click. "okay, mom get back in there. okay, now kiss." WE DIE. he is literally a mini us.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Tips for a successful fundraising garage sale

Earlier this summer we had a giant fundraising garage sale. We asked for donations from our friends and family and they passed along the message and we had random strangers calling us telling us they had items for us to sell! It was definitely one of the hardest and most time-consuming fundraisers we could have done but so worth it in the end. We made over $2,500 and were able to cover a giant payment that was due around the same time! So, here are a few tips and tricks for anyone who is thinking about conducting their own garage sale fundraiser!

1. Pre-price! Do not wait until you're setting up to price everything. We priced 90% of our stuff and left the big pieces that were in storage until the morning of. It was chaos to get everything set up and then priced and stuff was dusty and needed to be wiped down and I wanted to just sit for five minutes. If it's big and you're storing it where you won't get to it until the sale, price it as you're putting it away. I read another blog that suggested big tags for big items and I 100% agree. If it's a couch, use an entire sheet of paper. People driving by will see it and people won't have to search all over for a tiny little dot.

2. Don't shoot a wedding the day before for 15 hours. We're crazy. By the time we went to bed on Saturday night, we had been awake for 36-hours straight. I'm still recovering.

3. When you ask for donations, be specific about the things you don't want. I'm sure there's a kind way to say, "Please don't give me used underwear and your broken garbage."

4. People will give you their used underwear and broken garbage.

5. Offer to pick up donations! This was our biggest ally. We had access to my dad's truck so we were able to pick up big items. We let people dictate our pickups but it would probably be less stressful and more organized if you gave specific dates and times when you are able to, especially if you need to rent or borrow someone's vehicle.

6. Yes, this is a fundraiser for a good cause. No, people do not care. People would barter over a whole dollar even after we told them about our adoption. I have a hundred stories but here's two of my favorites:
a) A guy asked the price on a brand new Hurley kid's hoodie. I said $3. He responded, "Ten cents?" NO, GUY!
b) A lady asked how much the shoes were ($3/ea for most), then proceeded to fill an entire plastic bin with 15 or so pairs of shoes and ask for all of them for $5. YES. I KNOW. She gave me some story about how she sends them to kids in third world countries and it costs her a lot of money to do so and so I needed to basically give them to her so I offered 3 pairs for $5 and she agreed then proceeded to take a $1 tag off something else and put it on a pair of nice soccer cleats and tell me she'd do 3 pairs for $3.
If you're not comfortable bartering with people or pricing items as people are paying, ask someone to take that job! I'm the most uncomfortable with money (and bad at math) so people would bring stuff to me and I would say, "A quarter!" All the time! Like, we would have made $5 if I ran the whole thing! So, our friend Nick took over and was great at keeping the price where it was originally labeled and bartering when he needed to. I'm so thankful he was there for that because it definitely took a lot of stress off of me.

7. ASK. FOR. HELP. Are you like me and hate asking for help? Well, get over it, cupcake, and ask for it! Be specific in your needs, not just telling people, "I don't know! If you want to stop by, feel free!" Ask people to help price or set up for a few hours or tear down or hang signs or be available to carry heavy items. People want to help. LET THEM. You will straight up die if you think you can do it all by yourself.

8. Set up an end date for donations. I thought I'd be taking things up until the day before. Because I didn't realize that people will fit 943 of the tiniest things in one box. It's too much work, especially if you a) have any kind of life or b) want to sleep ever again. Stop taking donations on a specific day and announce it! We had people offering stuff the week of and it would have been great to make more money but it wasn't worth the stress of accumulating more stuff in my already stuffed house + pricing and hauling.

9. Try to be organized but you probably won't be. My plan was to take over a giant room in my basement. I received one very large donation of basically an entire house-full of stuff and tried to keep boxes organized so all of my kitchen stuff could be together. It lasted two hours and then it was just boxes upon boxes upon boxes. I did try and keep what was in the box organized but it took forever to set up, had I been organized in the beginning or not. PLUS, I didn't even haul the stuff to my parent's (where we held the sale), so it would have been completely disorganized in the move.

10. There is absolutely no good way to display clothes. We had tons and tons of baby clothes so I separated it by size and put it in boxes. There was no way I could hang up 75 newborn onesies. I mean, it was just out of hand. Hardly anyone looked through the clothes so now I have like 10 giant tubs of baby clothes in my basement because my plan is to someday sell them online.

11. You will be so surprised at what sells and what doesn't. Someone gave us some broken furniture that I had planned on fixing but then obviously life happened so I didn't. Someone still bought it. Someone bought an upright freezer that didn't work to use as storage. People did not want computers or printers or TVs and I was sure that those things would sell the fastest. You really have no idea what people are looking for so don't throw away the things you deem as junk because sometimes those are the fastest things that go!

12. Have a plan for the extras. Some donation stores like Goodwill will pick up your donations but only do it on specific days. Our garage sale was on Saturday and the truck only picked up donations on Tuesdays. When they came they only had room for half our stuff so we still had to haul a load that filled up my dad's truck and our car. It sat in my parent's driveway until we could haul it off so it would have probably been smart to just make a giant FREE sign and let people take it off our hands.

My biggest tip is to just ask for help! Get a rockstar team together to set up and tear down and help you greet the millions of people who are going to stop by. You're going to be exhausted no matter how organized and careful you are with planning. Good luck!