Sniffing crayons

World-famous Crayola crayons are manufactured ...

World-famous Crayola crayons are manufactured in Easton. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I walk into Walmart and veer over toward the aisles with signs advertising “back to school” sales, I realize, I want school supplies.  I always do at this time of year.  Call me crazy, but I love paper products and I feel like I’m missing out on something.

It’s like a new season; a fresh start to a new year of learning, meeting new people and new teachers and a year to be a better student and classmate.  That is how I always viewed it anyway.

I can smell the crayons and recall the careful searching for just the right box.  In kindergarten, there were the chubby crayons available in limited colors, for little fingers not yet aware of their strength.  Next was the bigger box sporting a few more colors and finally, you graduated to the big box, the one with the sharpener embedded in the back (I remember sharpening them down so small that my mom would tell me I wasn’t going to have anything left to color with).  When you got to these, you’d hit the mother lode of crayons.  The crayon eaters (there was one in every class) seemed especially drawn to these large colorful boxes.

Back when I was in elementary, picking out the wooden (cigar box) or tin crayon box was one of the most painstaking decisions to be made and I will venture to say many mothers must have lost their patience with children like me.

Browsing through the back to school aisles now, although still nostalgic, is not quite so familiar anymore.  I don’t recognize the super heroes and the cartoon-like images look more ghoulish or scary to me than Scooby doo or Superman.  There is also a shelf full of calculators.  My girls had to have these for math class.  I was always taught that I took math for those times when I didn’t have one of these and had to think for myself.  Oh well, math was my least favorite subject and I am eternally grateful that I don’t have to use it often.

I still love the paper aisle.  I just see page after page I can fill.  I am compelled to pick up a couple of cute notebooks for myself so I don’t feel completely left out.  I get a green one and a pink one sporting cute little owls.  This takes me back to Mrs. Green’s class where we wrote for the first 10 minutes of class, honing our writing skills.  There are fond memories there.

Strolling past the pencils conjures up memories of students sharpening pencils when the sharpener hung from the wall.  The kids who couldn’t sit still wanted to sharpen all 24 of theirs every day.  If I were a teacher, that would have got on my last nerve.  I remember the smell of lead and wood shavings to this day.  Then there was the poor boy that leaned too far back in his chair and fell on his pencil, lodging it in his derriere, and requiring medical attention.  We all thought he’d be dead by morning, as our parents had constantly warned us about the dire consequences of lead in our mouths or in our bloodstream.

Then, I see the lunch boxes.  I was never one of the children who used one, but always thought it would be cool.  I suffered though cafeteria food until high school and then we overloaded cars and trucks and went to McDonalds.

In all honesty, I enjoyed school and can summon all kinds of great memories from my time as a student.  Those days are long gone for me and even for my children, but I don’t think an August will ever go by without me waxing nostalgic over school supplies.

I think maybe I’ll go and buy myself a new outfit and some shoes too, in keeping with the spirit of things.

Deposits in our children

Ayda at Disney 2011

Ayda at Disney 2011

As I look back on the past 47 years of my life, I am convinced that of all of the lives I have touched, the biggest impact has been on my children.

Knowing this, I contemplate the failures which sometimes seemed as plentiful as the successes.  For this, I can promise, you will fail at times, more than once or twice.  You will find though, that how you handle the failures is the most important part.  There is no shame to be found in saying, “I’m sorry”; this is teaching your children to do the same.  You also have to forgive yourself and move forward.

I recall many times that they called me out on something that I had taught them not to do or also the times when I beamed with pride at the awesomeness of their character shining through.  There were times I was impatient and didn’t give them the chance to explain, or completely misread a situation and found myself at their bedside asking forgiveness.  There were also times that I know I rocked; that I gave them praise and their smile and hug told me I had got it right.  Those are the times your heart feels as though it will burst.

I have found that patience is mandatory throughout their lives; not just during the terrible twos and sassy teenage years.  Your complete and undivided attention is a must and forgiveness a necessity.  Praise is essential and should be used in far greater quantity than negative remarks.

The words that are spoken should be carefully chosen, the looks you give always filtered by love and the example that you set should be stellar.  If it hasn’t been thus far, make the rest of the years count!

Yes, there will come a time when they will make their own choices.  However, you will want them to make good ones, based on the things you have taught them and shown by example.  The little sponges will soak it all up, so make your choices wisely.

After all, you want to look back with more good memories than bad ones and you want to know you have done your very best.

Ahh, a relaxing shower….HAH

English: Shower

Okay, so we all know if you’re expecting a call, the best place to wait for it would probably be in the shower, right (or at least the bathroom)?  No, of course it won’t come if you think of it that way.

However, it never fails, especially if I am home alone, enjoying the solitude and the free time, yes, the me time, that while I am in the shower, usually in the midst of shaving my legs or conditioning my hair, the phone will ring.

That horrid noise, breaking the peace, making you absolutely certain that this is THE call, the call of the big news you’ve been waiting for, or the call from a long lost friend, or, oh no, not that one, the call where your child has been injured at school.

The last is the worst, because for the remainder of the shower, you are entertaining usually ludicrous and sometimes gory and grisly ideas of what happened to them.  Did they just pass out?   Did they fall from the monkey bars and break a bone?  Did that bully hit them and they are missing their front teeth?  Oh, it just has to be something horrible.  These fears are greatly multiplied if a moment later the phone rings again, because then you just know…YOU KNOW….they have to reach you right away, as the situation is dire.  Sometimes, you even imagine someone at your door.

Just as you slice a hunk of meat from your leg because you are dragging the razor across the delicate skin way too speedily, the phone stops and the minutes seem like hours before you can get to the phone and read the caller i.d.  Or, you step out with suds dripping from your scalp, stinging your eyes so badly, that you can’t find the phone to check it.  If you are one of the clumsy ones, like I am (particularly at times of certain hormonal fluctuations), you may slip on all the water you’ve allowed to leak onto the floor and barely, by the grace of God, keep from injuring yourself.

Where is that phone anyway?  We have two of them and neither is ever in the proper place unless I have been at home long enough to take care of this mindboggling dilemma.  It’s mindboggling, because for the life of me, I cannot understand why NO ONE ELSE who lives here actively demonstrates the skill or ability to do the same.

You can guess what happens next.  I find the phone, after my world has been shaken up, my mind all set to all sort of imaginations.  It was not THE call, nor was it a long lost friend and nope, not the school number either, which I know by heart (like any self-proclaimed wonder woman mom would).

The number begins with 866…..a solicitor has done all of this.  Suffice it to say, there is a moment of anger, right before the relief.  And once again, all is quiet; all is right with my little world.

The little, big things

Ayda and the red marker experience

Ayda and the red marker experience

This afternoon after reading Psalm 67, I just can’t help but think about all the things I have to be thankful for and how that thanks should turn into praise.  Some things we just take for granted like the fact that we woke up today.  Many didn’t.

There are so many little things that make me happy and bring me so much joy.  They seem small but if you contemplate each of them, one by one, they are really enormous gifts that life would be so dreary without.

For instance, I’m thankful for smiles in general, but especially the smiles that start way down deep inside, the ones that pass through the heart and soul and burst forth birthing more smiles.  Imagine a world where no one EVER smiled, not ever.

And what about laughter?  Laughter is such a beautiful thing, differing from person to person, but always fitting the personality.  We’ve all had those friends with the deep belly laugh, the modest snicker, the snort and the cackle.  Can you imagine the world without it?

I’m grateful for the sense of touch; the fact that I can reach out and comfort my husband or my child with a simple touch, a hug, or a kiss.  What is it about feeling that presence of another that can give you strength or courage to keep going sometimes?  I think about those denied the touch of another and how dreadful that would be.

My point in this little snippet is that we are easily thankful for the big things.  Every day, I thank God for my home and family, job and church, friends and neighbors.  The praise can get routine and not as heartfelt sometimes.  Today, I’m reminded of so many little things that are really big things and of how I take so much for granted in my very blessed life.  This is a reminder to me to be grateful for the seemingly little things and to help others to notice them too.

Be Blessed!

Valentines shoe box

Puppy Love Valentine CardsI remember when my girls were young and we had to buy or make valentines for the entire class.  There were big decisions to be made about who got which one.  Patience was a necessity as they carefully pondered the possible ramifications of each selection. “But mom, if I pick this one, he might think I like him”, and “Which one should I give my teacher?”

Some years we would carefully transform a shoe box into a glittering, shimmering, pink or red valentine mail box.  After the inevitable Valentine party with punch and cupcakes, they would bring it home and excitedly show me all of their cards. I would catch them perusing them again later in their room and maybe tucking one in the frame of their dresser mirror.

We used to make some of them together with construction paper and doilies.  We would cut out shapes, make drawings and pen our own verse, then deliver to family, friends and neighbors, often along with valentine cookies. Their smiles were the only reward I needed for my help. I imagine I could still find some of these treasures if I looked in the right boxes.

Time passes and those memories grow more precious to me as I try to hold on to every one of those sweet moments.  Love grows and changes and those precious little children, who captivated us at birth, weave their own unique and precious pattern deeply and permanently into our hearts.  Once again, I am so grateful for all the times I took the time to really enjoy them, to look in their eyes and listen to them.

Time flies and you never know what is waiting around the next corner. Live well and spend plenty of time with your family.


Nana and Ayda playing patty cake

Nana and Ayda playing patty cake

“I luff you Nana”, she said.  Now, I’m not entirely sure if she meant those words this particular time from the bottom of her nearly three year old heart, or if it was the overwhelming gratitude she felt at my latest promise.  I had just said, “Nana will send you the Peter Pan movie”.

For anyone who has the immense, incomparable pleasure of being a grandparent, it really doesn’t matter why they said it.  It melts your heart, liquefies it right into a puddle of love.  Those four little words make you feel like the most important person on earth.  They are coveted words and not always shared so freely by our independent little cherubs.

Before we were blessed with Ayda, I remember other grandparents and their endless pictures and chatter about their precious little ones, the most brilliant little people ever conceived.  I thought I understood.  I didn’t.  Not even close.

I was there when she was born.  After my nervousness for the safety and health of my eldest throughout the process, I was blissful to see the little dark haired head make its entry on the scene.  The thrill of her first cries upon encountering this big, bright world overwhelmed me.

I remember my first trip back out to California after they had been to visit for an extended period.  Her daddy had been in Afghanistan serving his country, so they stayed with us during his tour of duty.  She wasn’t very old and it had been a few months since I’d seen her.

My daughter picked me up from the LA airport, in the early evening and we enjoyed catching up on the drive back to Temecula.  Ayda was playing at a friend’s house and we stopped by there to pick her up.  She sat in her car seat and jabbered all the way home.  I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her but I wasn’t sure she would welcome being held.

I will never forget getting out of the car at their apartment and her little arms reaching out for me, just like those months between visits had never passed.  And oh, the feeling when those chubby little arms hugged me ever so tightly.  I still get tears in my eyes thinking about it.  She remembered!

Am I smitten?  Totally!  In love with her?  Absolutely!  And don’t even begin to think you can understand, unless you’re one of the proud, the elite, the grandparents!!

Slow down, have some fun

I’m sitting here with heavy eyelids looking at all the Christmas decorations scattered all over the place.  I had good intentions, I really did.  I was going to have the inside of my house completely decorated today.

I got up early this morning, did my devotions, enjoyed my coffee and started off with a bang.  Seven boxes later, tree up and the remaining mountain of merriment covering my dining room table and floor, I lost my momentum.  Then my daughter said, “Let’s go to the movies”.  That was the end of it, so here I sit at 10:00pm surrounded by nutcrackers, snow men, greenery, angels and scented candles galore with no energy left at all.

But, I will have to say, I’m very proud of myself.  Normally when I put my mind to something, there is nothing that can stop me.  I tend to be a very resolved, stay with the program, planner or some might say more like a rigid, unbending, fanatic.  It’s unlike me, out of character to just drop everything on a whim, just to go have fun.

This felt good though; more quality time with my daughter and her friend and I got to see a movie I’ve been wanting to see, not to mention the peppermint chocolate chip milkshake from Chick Fil A.  Honestly, I look back and wish I could say that I had done this a lot more often, especially when my children were younger.  The house might not have been as clean and maybe I wouldn’t have felt as “in control”, but we would have had more fun. I’ve heard it asked before, “What will our children remember?  A clean house or the priceless memories we shared with them?”  Thankfully, I was blessed with lots of good memories and I’m sure my children were as well.  However, I know there were times when I was too busy, or just too devoid of flexibility to mix things up a bit for the sake of frivolity.

If you have young children, don’t hesitate to stop whatever you’re doing and embrace those moments.  They are gone all too quickly.  Sometimes I think that is why grandparents are so amazing; because they have learned this and will more often make the time to make a memory.

If God has blessed you with a child, grandchild, niece, nephew or any other child you spend time with, share your knowledge with them, lead them, guide them, but take care to just stop what you are doing sometimes and have fun!  Play in the water hose, make pictures out of the clouds, play that game and listen with your heart.  You won’t regret one minute of it!

Good night; I’ll be dreaming that elves come in and finish my decorating by morning….

Mitch Teemley

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