Life teaching

Why I’m Happy School is Starting Again

Ah, back-to-school time.  That season of the year when store shelves are brimming with shiny new pens, markers, notebooks, and lunch boxes, and clothing racks are stuffed with fashions for going back to school.  Parents groan because of the expense of equipping the kids with everything required for the new school year–but those shoes fit in May!  Kids groan because their summer is too short, and the reminders start in July with back-to-school sales–can’t they at least wait until August?  Teachers groan because their summer is too short–wait, I need more time off!

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The rest of the world–civilians as I used to call them–gives a sigh of relief that life will finally settle into a familiar routine of the kids being off the streets, out of the shopping centers, and in the schools for at least eight hours a day.  Sorry, teachers, I feel your pain.  After all, I was one for 30 years myself.
That is the number one reason I’m happy that school is starting. . .
1.  I’m retired!  I don’t have to worry about endless staff development meetings when I would rather be in my classroom preparing for the first day of school.  I don’t have to spend money buying extra school supplies for the students in my classes who won’t have them.  I don’t have to wonder when I’ll find the time to prepare my lessons, grade papers, schedule meetings, call parents, and worry about ARDs, LEPs, IEPs, STARR, ADA, AEIS, RTI, TEKS, TELPAS, STEM, BS, and CRAZY!
2.  Fall is around the corner.  Sayonara, summer, with your 100-degree temperatures (I shouldn’t complain–we’ve only had one day of those so far this year!). . .bring on those dead leaves, pumpkin spice lattes, boots, and sweaters!

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3.  I can go to the store during the day and every aisle won’t be filled with parents and children getting in the way. . .IF I go before 3:00 p.m.
4.  I won’t have to compete for doctor and dental appointments with teachers and students.  I’ll be able to get an appointment for whenever I need it. . .maybe.
5.  Those school facilities I pay enormous taxes on will again be in use.  (How many times did I hear this when I was teaching?  Ugh.)
6.  Tax-free weekend happens in August (at least here in Texas), and you don’t have to be a teacher or student to buy clothes or supplies minus the sales tax.  But it’s crowded!

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More info here
7.   Back-to-school shopping means a sneak peak at the new fall fashions. 
8.  After the back-to-school season comes Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, the good, better, and best parts of the whole year.
Those are the reasons I am glad school is starting back up again.  I’ve always been happy to see school start, ever since I was old enough to start getting new clothes and school supplies.   I guess I have teaching in my blood.
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What about you?  Is back-to-school a good thing for you?
home decor Junkin' and Thriftin'

Booth sprucin’ and ponderin’. . .

One of the things you have to do when you have a booth space in an antiques mall is spruce it up occasionally, or as Vintage Rescue Squad puts it, “foof your boof.”

I just love that.  I wish I had thought of it myself!  Surely she won’t mind if I borrow it?

Anyway, these last few months haven’t been exactly lucrative for my sister and me in our little booth at Uniques & Antiques in Mineola.  Actually, 2014 hasn’t been as good for me as a vendor as 2013 was.

With sales low month after month, I wonder if the problem is what I choose to put in my booth, how I choose to display it, or if my prices are fair.  I start asking myself:

1.  Is our booth eye-catching and attractive?
2.  Is our booth welcoming?
3.  Is our booth full of stuff people want?
4.  Are our prices reasonable?
5.  Do we introduce new merchandise often enough?  
6.  Are we located in a good spot in the mall?
7.  Are we in the right mall?
8.  Are we in the right business?
9.  Is it time to try something else?

Then I start talking with other vendors.  I read their blogs and Facebook posts.  I realize that we are all in the same boat.

This business is fickle.
No one can predict what our customers will buy from one season to the next.

Last summer it was sage green shabby furniture and chalkboard painted silver trays.

This summer it is black distressed furniture
and rustic signs. 

Things that flew out of the booth last year
have been sitting for weeks.

No matter.

I stay because:

1. It allows me to do something with all those thrift store and garage sale finds.
2.  It gives me a place to trade out my home decor as I find new old things to decorate with.
3.  It gives me a thrill when something sells.
4.  It gives me a creative outlet for design and crafting.
5.  It’s sister-bonding and FUN!

So. . .this week I did some booth sprucing.
Somebody might just come in and find exactly what they have been looking for. . .

or find the very thing they didn’t know they needed.

It’s Mary Lillian Vintage if you want to stop by.  Look for the turquoise sign at Uniques & Antiques in Mineola.

Make my day.


Junkin' and Thriftin'

Teacher Tuesday: Dolly Python Vintage

It’s Teacher Tuesday on my blog, so today I am going to share what this teacher learned visiting Dolly Python Vintage in Dallas last weekend.  I have been wanting to visit this place for quite some time after seeing it mentioned in a magazine (I can’t remember now which) and then looking it up online.  What a treat it was to finally have a chance to go!

The front door

Located in east Dallas on N. Haskell Avenue, it is an unassuming older building with a cute neon sign on the corner and parking on a side street.  But once you open that door and are greeted by several people who work there, along with Lucy the black lab and Mr. Sandwiches, the terrier mix, you are in heaven.  Or at least, I was.

Lucy was friendly and very laid back.
The first items you see are shelves and shelves of used and vintage cowboy boots on the right and racks and racks of vintage clothing on the right from the front to the back of the store.  In the center of the store between two dividing walls are glass counters where you pay for your merchandise and cross over into the antique mall part of the establishment.  
Rows of vintage clothing beckon under various taxidermy pieces and this 1950’s dress.

This is not your ordinary antique mall.  There are many vendors with lots of stuff, but amidst the lamps and furniture and knick-knacks are various and sundry oddities, like floating doll heads, dressed up taxidermy, framed taxidermy heads, bones, caskets, snakeskins, circus tapestries, and dolls with no eyes.  There is also a whole corner full of vintage records as well as a psychic ready to forecast your fortune.

Doll heads float on cubby shelves.

A jar rounds up various doll parts behind these porcelain heads.

Imagine that this used to belong to a little girl who probably loved her very much.
Still kind of creepy, though, huh?

There were two of these stuffed fawns!  What would possess someone to kill and stuff a baby deer, much less two?
I prefer to believe they were accidentally killed and lovingly preserved.

“I say, old chap, might you have a light?”  Crazy weird!
Victorian wicker casket said to allow corpses to breathe if they suddenly revived.
The wicker allowed the air in but kept the bugs out.
Ronald McDonald helps keep watch over the store.
See what I mean?  So cool!  So quirky!  So full of ideas for my own decor and especially my booth at Uniques & Antiques!  Wonder if people around here are ready for oddities?  It’s worth a try!  I have lots of other photos I may share later. In the meantime, you can check out their Facebook page and their Pinterest page.  

Can you believe I got out of there with only three vintage photographs at less than five bucks?  It was one of those places where there is so much I couldn’t decide on anything!  I did that the first time I went to Sam Moon–I was too overwhelmed with all the choices in jewelry and purses!

I will definitely be returning to Dolly Python Vintage with my daughter, who is a fan of the Discovery Channel program “Oddities.”  My son even brought her a bag from the store Obscura in New York over the weekend.

Let me know if you think these oddities I shared are way too odd or just too cool!



Teacher Tuesday: Classroom Prep

image from here

It’s August and “back to school” season in stores and on school campuses.  School buildings have sat almost dormant all summer–except for summer school–allowing custodians to do heavy cleaning, maintenance to rebuild and repair, and administrators to catch up and plan for the coming year.  Summers are all too short for educators for whom the end of May was slow coming.  

But it is weird because after a couple of months off (if you don’t count the workshops and staff development), most teachers will tell you that they wish the summer was longer, while secretly their heartbeats quicken at all the new school supplies beginning to line store shelves.  I believe that is the mark of a truly dedicated teacher, that renewed enthusiasm that returns every August.

There is nothing quite as exciting as seeing all those new notebooks, lunch totes, writing utensils, and assorted gadgets.  As soon as those shelves begin filling up in my local Walmart, my shopping cart (or as we call it in Texas, my buggy) heads that way as if it has a mind of its own.  As a teacher, I HAVE to see what’s new and what I MUST have for my classroom and students!  Can I get a hearty “Amen!” on that?

This year is slightly different, though.  I retired in May so I have no classroom to fix up and no supplies to buy.  It’s not as sad as I expected, though.  I am saving money I didn’t realize I usually spent!  I will still peruse the merchandise and, against my husband’s wishes, I will put a few things in my buggy to place into the store’s school supply donation box. But I will not be sad!

Just for old time’s sake, though, here are some photos of my last classroom, my science classroom from last August (please excuse the phone photos). . .

Of course, things didn’t remain so neat and tidy, and I added things to the top of the shelf unit in the back, as well as more stuff to the walls.  Since I knew that retirement might be an option at the end of the year, I tried not to accumulate too much, but I still ended up with more than I intended.  Such is the life of a teacher/junker/decorator!

Have fun, all you educators out there, shopping, spending your OWN money (we ALL do it), and anxiously preparing for the first day of school.  It’s a new year, a new start, and a new opportunity to impact a child’s life.  It’s a calling.  
You must answer that call.  Godspeed. . .
Ap ril  xoxo

"How are you enjoying retirement?"

This is a question I have been asked several times since May, when I retired from 30 years of teaching public school.  I actually  left a couple of weeks early due to a surgery I had scheduled before school was out so I could use up the remainder of my state leave days.  No, I was not one of those lucky few who accumulate enough days to actually purchase a year of retirement or be reimbursed from their school district.  So, I just had major surgery!  The timing was not the best for my family, though.  The surgery was scheduled the day after Mother’s Day, and had the Lord called me home, it would have made for some difficult future Mother’s Days for them.

All that said, I really haven’t felt retired yet, because schoolteachers normally are off for several weeks during the summer. It has been nice not having to attend summer workshops or do any advance planning, but I think it really won’t sink in until the first day of school rolls around and I have no classroom to return to.  It is already weird not buying new school supplies now that the stores are filling up their back-to-school shelves.  I can always buy things for the school supply train for needy children in my area.  That will help somewhat.

Some of you may be thinking that I should become a substitute teacher.  To that I reply, “No thanks!”  I have been there and done that, and the lack of respect for substitutes is not something I particularly relish.  I hope to continue writing–and perhaps start a business, or get an office job. . .but until then, I guess this coffee mug one of my dear friends gave me just about sums it up. . .

. . .because I will have my feet up for awhile!  (And sprinkle in a few home projects that I have put off for years and years and years. . .)

And before all you teachers out there start the hating, remember that you will be at this point someday, Lord willing.  I have earned it, and you will, too!  Enjoy the back-to-school shopping!