Thursday, June 23, 2016

Hello There, Dear Reader

Okay, so it's been a while since I posted. A looooong while!

Today was my first day of summer vacation, and I'm looking at 77 76 days off. School got out so late this year that it almost felt like it would never end. It was one of my best years ever, but even good things must end.

As for the blog, I just didn't have enough time to collect my thoughts in the last couple of months for a post. Life has been so busy and, quite honestly, kind of out of balance. But, I'm taking steps to get things back in balance. It seems like almost every endeavor of mine ends up with me in a leadership role. However, as the leader of this little family, I need to remember that being an only parent and breadwinner is enough responsibility on my shoulders. So, I relinquished one responsibility for the coming school year that didn't have an entirely positive impact on our family life. Hopefully, with that off of my plate, I can be a more focused parent and take better care of myself physically. 

Our plans for the summer include a trip to the Sierras with my parents, ballet and ukelele lessons for Michaela, working out and dropping a few pounds, lots of afternoons swimming in Grammy and Papa's pool, a few projects around the house (especially organizing - I looove organizing!), and ramping up my little ebay business for a successful fall. By the time I return to school in September, I hope to be satisfied with how we spent our time and refreshed for another great year in the classroom!

I also hope to blog our summer adventures. So check back soon!

P.S. Can you see my blog's header? I can't...

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Mrs. Then - Mrs. Now

I think I have written about this before. If I haven't written about it before, then I guess I'm just recalling when something similar happened in the past. I didn't like it then about two years out, and I don't like it now six years out.

So consider this a public service announcement.

Please don't call me "Ms. Labrador."


I am Mrs. Labrador to those who don't call me by my first name.

Thank you.

Losing my husband...

Becoming a widow...

Did not make me "Ms. Labrador."

I don't know "Ms. Labrador."

According to Emily Post, you should refer to a widowed woman as "Mrs." if you don't know the widow's preference. The default is "Mrs." Easy peasy!

I have had multiple professional correspondences with another Mrs. this year, and despite the fact that I always sign my correspondence with "Mrs. Labrador" this person continues to address me in written form as "Ms. Labrador". However, she has referred to another colleague (whose husband is alive) as Mrs. So-and-So. She's making a judgement call based on whose husband is here and whose husband is not.

I lost a lot when I lost Michael, but I didn't lose my "Mrs.". Widowhood painfully redefined who I am in many ways, but my "Mrs." is not something that has changed.

Update: Speaking up was a good thing. I don't think I'll be addressed as "Ms. Labrador" again, and the other person was very apologetic and understanding. I should have said something sooner - I could have saved myself a lot of aggravation!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Find & Flip: January - February

As I stated in a recent post, January was pretty slow. There would be entire weeks where I wouldn't have a single sale. That didn't mean I wasn't working the business, though. I had heard that January was a great time to be thrifting because so many people had made donations at the end of the year. So I did a lot of sourcing in January.

One day my mother-in-law and brother-in-law took Michaela to Disneyland, and I had the entire day to myself. I spent $220 at the Goodwill and came home with 35 items. My cart was full. It was fun.

What's even more fun than thrifting for items for sale (which is fun!), is hearing my iPhone cha-ching when something sells. That's when my hard work literally pays off.

Here are some of my favorite finds and flips from January and February:

This was one of the items I purchased that day at the Goodwill. I don't usually buy jeans because they are $9.99 and it's hard to make a decent profit after that. But if they are new with tags, and a good brand, I will happily spend $9.99. These sold in less than two weeks. Cha-ching!

Anthropologie labels sell well. I paid $4.99 for this pretty top and it sold in just a few days.

Here's another item I found new with tags. Dresses at my Goodwill are usually $8.49 as was this one.

Such a pretty sweater. If it had been in my size, I might have kept it. Sweaters are $6.49 usually.

One thing I noticed about my February sales compared to the previous months was that the average sales price dropped. Previously, I had an average sales price of $36 per item. But in February my average sales price dropped to $30 per item. So sales were up, but people were spending less overall.

I have also learned to shop my own closet for inventory. There are things I am not wearing for whatever reason, and they are destined to be donated anyway. Why not make a few bucks instead?

This was something I purchased from Stitch Fix last year. It's cute, but I wasn't that excited about it anymore. I paid a lot more for it than I sold it for (there are no deals on Stitch Fix), but I recouped some of my investment - and it sold quickly.

I purchased this from ThredUp not that long ago. It's super cute, but I decided that it's a little "young" for me at this point. I'm sure I paid less for it than I sold it for.

March is off to a great start. I've found some great items and sales are good so far. I'm hoping for 40 sales this month. Come on eBay!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Six Years

Today marks the sixth anniversary of Michael's passing.

Last night we had dinner with Michael's parents and his aunt. It was good to be with some of the people who love him and miss him.

The night Michael went home, his mom and his aunt were here with us. They almost went home for dinner, but after attending mass in the neighborhood here, they came back first. Within a very short time of their arrival, Michael took his last breath on Earth and took his first glimpse of Eternity.

I say it every year, but it really is hard to believe that it's been six years already. It just goes to show you how brief life is, really. Time continues it's relentless march into the future no matter what happens in our lives. I am grateful that my future is in the hands of the One in whose presence Michael now lives.

Today is a day to take a break from the daily grind, and be with Michael's best gift to me - Michaela. We are enjoying the rainy weather and a quiet morning in our little home.

And for those who haven't seen this memorial video, here it is again. If you didn't know Michael, then you will see why he was so loved.

Updated to add my first "vlog":


Saturday, March 5, 2016


February has come and gone, and I neglected to post anything here on the blog.

One of the things I like about February is that it has two long weekends thanks to the observances of Lincoln and Washington's birthdays. Every time I have a three-day weekend, I think that is the perfect schedule for me. Three days gives me enough time to get my household chores and related errands done, and still have time for rest, relaxation, and time with family or friends. Two days just isn't enough time.

I took Michaela to see a movie on that first long weekend. We saw Kung Fu Panda III. Neither of us had seen the other two Kung Fu Panda movies, so we didn't know the backstory at all. Nevertheless, we both liked it a lot. Michaela has only seen three movies in the theater, and she is still a little nervous about them. I'm not sure why as I've never exposed her to anything very scary, but she always anticipates that she will be scared. She hasn't gotten used to the fact that every movie (well, almost every movie) has a "bad guy". When the bad guy shows up, she gets nervous. I remember feeling that way when I was a kid, too.

Michaela took another session of hula during January and February. She really seems to enjoy that form of dance. I'll be signing her up for another session this spring, but she'll move up to the older kids' class. The little ones were super cute, but they were all over the place because their attention spans are so short. I think Michaela is ready for a slightly more focused group.

I spent a lot of my non-teaching time on my little eBay business. Sales were really slow in January, and I was slightly discouraged. But things picked up in February, and March is off to a great start. I will have my first debt paid off before summer, and I am more confident that I will be able to make Michaela's tuition payments. I intend to post my sales numbers and favorite sales in a coming post. In sharing, I hope to inspire others to consider something like what I'm doing to tackle debt, or have greater financial freedom.

(Some of my recent finds to flip on eBay!)

The weather in February was pretty amazing. El Nino has been slow in showing up here in Southern California. So we were treated to summer-like weather most of the month. I haven't run my furnace in weeks and weeks, and I've been sleeping with the window open a little bit and even the ceiling fan on some nights. It's crazy!

Professionally, I am having one of my best school years. Sixth grade is a great age to teach, and I love the way my new school is run. Every day it is a pleasure to be there. As part of my teachers association's executive board, I have been a part of a new collaborative effort for the district and the associations to work together in decision making. It's very refreshing and satisfying to be included in the process of rebuilding our beleaguered district.

So that's February in a nutshell. Here's hoping March brings El Nino rains and lots of eBay cha-chings!